Friday, August 31, 2007

Needed a break

Nothing like a link from Alex Ross to get you posting again. I've been off studying for a certification exam I don't really want to write. And Howard Stern's off again this week and Wife and Son are both sick so the daily schedule has been a chaotic wreck with strobe lights.

I've also been needing a break from the steady diet of Beethoven, Strauss and Wagner I've been on. I swerved hard in Verdi's direction and I've been going through Nabucco. It's the 21st century - there should be no guilt on the part of a German music lover who partakes of the sunnier delights from south of the Alps. Right? (And I did listen to the first 25 numbers of the St. Matthew Passion before bed last night so I've redeemed myself.)

I had been planning on doing a post on a comment I heard on TV from a soprano back in the 90s. It must have been during a Met telecast. During an intermission, she said that the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro was longer than Brünnhilde's in the Ring. I'd thought since then that that must be wrong. Reading Michael Kennedy's Master Musicians series book on Strauss last week really motivated me because he claimed that Och's role was the second only to Susanna's in length. That was it - I was going to find out how many bars we're talking about here.

I dug out the Figaro score and got to work. I'd decided to count every measure in which a note for Susanna appears - i.e. including pick-ups. The recitatives didn't contribute as much as I thought they would. But that Act II finale really is a monster. Something like 650 measures for her in that one. My grand total ended up being roughly 1680. I then turned to Walküre and started counting.

The task was pretty tedious by this point and I realized that my supposition is that whoever first asserted this couldn't count. (Or maybe it was that I was the first person dumb enough to sit down and count these things out.) I couldn't face finishing the Ring, let alone plouging through Rosenkavalier. I gave up. For now, I'm content to let the assertion stand. Susanna is the longest opera role ever in the world.

Part III of Album Cover Follies is coming this weekend. I thought it was going to be a one-time deal, but it turns out you can pretty much make fun of any album cover...

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