34 004105 ; . • d da ftre&lce .. SEASON FINALE! The opera was banned in Naples. Even Malibran could not stop the censors at La Scala from prohibiting further performances in Milan. And yet its irrepressible beauty resurfaced in the zoth century to show us the explosive power of its subject matter, its unparalleled dramatic immediacy and the magnificence of a be/ canro master. Raisa NaJ
H1 TECH, H1 F1, Low PRICE: THE XnEL H1F1-L1NK The vastly widened musical options offered by Internet radio stations and streaming audio sites are a big incentive for art music devotees to invest major bucks on a computer and pay increased monthly fees for high speed internet. You hook up your computer lo what are supposed 10 be higher end computer speakers and the sound is disappointing. You then decide LO cable sound directly into the amp that runs your hi-fi system, and, within the sonic limits imposed by current bit rare transmission speeds, the sound is truncated, noise-ridden, or both. What gives? What doesn't give is the mediocre sound card in nearly all laptops. and many if not most desktops as well. Even when desktops have good cards. the people 1ha1 tilt at windmills. The most intriguing visual archives or golden age singers are the charmingly cornrived operatic musicals or the 1930s through 1950s. In Southern. Cernral and Eastern Europe, plus the immigrarn communities they spawned in the Americas. opera was a passion of the man in the street as well as along wide boulevards. Caruso and company were right up there with Babe Ruth in the neighborhood where I grew up. It was thus the most natural thing in the world ror the nascent talking tilm industry to tap idolized opera singers for a new mass market. Plus divas and divos knew how to act. Create some semblance of a plot as a vehicle for belting out arias, and you'd likely 1111 many seats. The lirs1 DVDs from Bel Canto include live wonderful operatic musicals. There's only one complete opera, a fine 1954 Elisir d'Amore. ll 's a rare chance lo see and hear Cesare Valletti. Valletti was a rising tenor al the Met when the imperious Rudolph Bing abruptly and mysteriously yanked him from a performance, and career. Valletti left opera, returned to Italy, and ultimately became a major player in manufacturing espresso machines. There's a libretto here. Beniamino Gigli stars in Non Li scordar di me ( 1935) and Ridi Pagliaccio ( 1942). The former recourns a match between a widower father, who happens to be a pudgy irnernational opera star, and a young- MARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2005 internal environment of whirling disk drives, power transformers ere. is noise interference waiting to be amplified into living stereo. An Australian hi-tech firm, Xitel, will come to your rescue with one of the best buys in audio. For just you get a small oblong plastic box, weighing just ounces, that contains an outboard digital processor. A 3-foot USB to USB cable (included) connects your Windows or Mac machine to the DAC. It's plug and play, no software needed. A 30-foot er beauty on the rebound. I won't give away the ending, but bring Kleenex. Ridi liberally fictionalizes a real-life Canio inspiring Leoncavallo to compose Pagliacci. Occa- ' sion is found, of course, for Gigli to sing Canio/Pagliacci's key a';-ias. We get a rare look at how well Gigli could act. A prototypical British war movie, Tile Glass Mo1111rai11 (1950), gives the baritone Tito Gobbi an occasion to strut his stuff. An English composer becomes an aviator, gets downed and parachutes wounded into the Italian mountains, where there just happens to be a) a partisan in a Tyrolean hat who's a knock-out baritone; b) a beauty betrothed to someone else who falls for said aviator, and vice versa. The ex-aviator writes his great opera. the peasarn baritone gets to premier it at La Scala, and the rest rm not telling, except to say that the crazy thing works beautifully. Sombre clouds hang over two films starring the great German-Jewish tenor, Joseph Schmidt: Ein lied geht um die Welt ( 1933) and Ein S1ern fallr vom Himmel (1936). Schmidt escaped the Nazis by entering Switzerland illegally in 1942. He was promptly interned in a Swiss labor camp. 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