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Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 7.52.14 PMToday is Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s birthday.  You may not have noticed, but I’m a baritone junkie. It all began in 1978 when Sherrill Milnes walked onto the Met stage as Don Giovanni.  That’s when I realized that baritones – barihunks – are the opposite sex!  They’re the men in opera. Face it, there’s nothing more stunning than a man in Regency costume, or in a cape. Having spent many years drooling over baritones, I can honestly say that Sherrill Milnes and Dmitri Hvorostovsky are why we call them barihunks!

Sigh!

Baritones, in opera, are the ones most associated with politics, coups, back-stabbing, and statesman like leaders.  If you know you opera, just dealing with Verdi teaches us all we need to know – Politics 101.  The good guy rarely wins.  The bad guys usually lose, and the truly honorable men who are trying to do what is right and decent end up shot, stabbed in the back, or poisoned.

In honor of my favorite baritone’s birthday, we’re taking a political trip through Verdi, to explain what is happening in this country. I’m not all that sanguine as to the outcome.   We need someone with the courage to stand up to the forces of evil, and govern with honor and wisdom.

Instead of dealing with politics today, I’m going to deal with reality.  Let’s be honest here, I am heart-sick.  I don’t know what to do or say about what is going on in Washington.  We’re watching a group of truly irrational and almost evil individuals, led by Ted Cruz bring our country to our knees.  The only way to describe what they are doing to us is operatic.  Only opera makes sense here.  It is dramatic, irrational, and over the top.  Maybe that’s why I love the art form so much.  There are so many cautionary tales in opera that can illustrate what is going on here, in this nation – out of their minds.  It makes me think of the simmering insanity of Il Trovatore.

The beauty of opera is that it prepares you for the real world, and times like these.  Any real opera fan knows you’re going to be betrayed, stabbed in the back, shot, poisoned, or exiled.  Or – the person you care most about will end up dead, protecting you.  Opera is about betrayal.  Yep, that works today, doesn’t it?  We Republicans, we live-long Republicans, we Americans have literally been betrayed by the irrational forces of the extreme right. For some strange reason, they are determined to stage what can only be called a coup.

One of the great lessons of opera is that no matter how bad it is, it will only get worse, with truly evil individuals trying to destroy something that is good, honorable and decent.  No matter how much you trust a person, they’re plotting behind your back to destroy you.

Good, honorable and decent men, who are fighting for their country, for what is right, to help those who are truly in need, well, they get shot in the back by those who are more interested in personal ambition and promoting themselves.

Don’t expect a happy ending.  They don’t exist, in life as in opera.  The good die young, hearts are broken, and unfortunately, the baritone usually bites the dust.  The wise leader almost always gets the shaft, so that the hot-heads, traitors, and those who don’t have the nation’s best interest at heart can win.

The thing about a good and honorable leader is they know how to balance compassion and a need to protect their country from forces of evil and those who would over-throw it to do it harm.  This should be a cautionary tale of what happens when a good and honorable statesman garners the courage to step up and do what is right.  Rarely don’t they get a knife in the back, in opera, but once in awhile, they come out ahead and the annoying tenor – the one trying to over throw the country, the traitor – bites the dust.  It should be noted that Ted Cruz is a tenor. Barack Obama is basically a baritone – FYI.

Perhaps the real problem in creating this piece is the fact that I had to stop and listen (once again) to all of the clips I’m using. No self-respecting opera fan in their right mind is going to turn off the greatest voice in the world.  What should have been a fairly quick post has stretched into several hours.  It sure sounds good, that’s for sure.

And so we have the comparisons.  Men and women, almost evil, corrupt individuals like Ted Cruz, Eric Cantor, Jim DeMint, Paul Ryan, Charles Koch, David Koch, Rush Limbaugh,Sean Hannity, Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Mark Levine, Larry Klayman, Laura Ingraham, and so forth and so on are leading weak, pathetic drunks like John Boehner around, destroying them, while they are destroying the country.  All the while, men like Lindsey Graham and John McCain who have the courage to speak out, can expect that knife in the back.  Instead, what we get is the abject insanity of a Glenn Beck. We get men and women who don’t care about the disaster they are creating. All that matters is their own political ambition. It is rare to find someone who is more important in what is right, than in rank ambition.

You see, life is like opera, only opera sounds better, especially when you have one of the greatest baritones of all time as the leading man.  The moral of the story – any good opera fan can use it to illustrate just about anything in life, just like Star Trek!

And – it may not be Verdi, nor anything political, but I think this is my favorite thing Dmitri Hvorostovsky does.  The way you judge an opera singer is how well they handle other things.  This is very well done.  It’s why we call ’em barihunks!

The translation is so very appropriate.

Canzonetta semplice
Music: I. Krutoj Lyrics: L. Vinogradova

This sad, tired-As are we all want!
Much ado about nothing.
You know, sometimes you need simplicity!
How little you-simple song.
It goes straight to the heart.
Smile and sing it with me.
Guitar and accordion.
All love this simple song!

Happy Birthday to Dmitri Hvorostovsky!  Thank you for your beautiful music.  Many blessings to you on this day.

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1 Comment

  • jose maria says:

    What an excellent post! It is so true. When I was fourteen years old I was given a small radio for my very own. Every Saturday afternoon in my room, instead of going to the movies or listening to popular music like all the other kids my age, I listened to the Metropolitan opera radio broadcasts. I learned about life listening to opera. I also learned more about history, literature, and mythology than I learned in the classroom. As a teenager I was much more sophisticated than any of my contemporaries. I learned that I could relate to opera, mentally and emotionally. Opera taught me a lesson I could never have learned from the movies during that period of my life. I learned that real life does not always end happily.


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