Friday, April 22, 2011

"Friday Night Frolic" - Phantom Thoughts

Internet source unknown

Because I've barely unpacked one bag and am packing another for a weekend in Nantucket, where Easter will be celebrated with family...

An abbreviated version of FNF appears below.

(It's not what you think.)

Including (and limited to):

(a) A confession;

(b) A hustler, charlatan and genius; and,

(c) Fabulous music, of course.

As follows... 


(a) Opera. Oh, don't say it. I never liked it either. Until 1984. Then, I fell under a spell. Mostly a Puccini, Verdi and Bizet kind of spell. Mostly with arias. Mostly in the shower;

(b)  Malcolm McLaren: the hustler, charlatan and genius who sold clothing on Kings Road, a costumer and stylist who managed the Sex Pistols, and the New York Dolls, dabbled in advertising, TV, film and a musical career of his own, a prompter and maybe even a bit of a Prima Donna, who died a year ago this month; and,

(c) Fans, 1984. McLaren's symphonic productiona version of operaa tantalizing fusion of musical genres, was the spit and flare, that in my young mind, like a toasted coconut marshmallow moment, quick and thick, fired all things operatic.

Madame Butterfly:



Gianni Schicchi:

An artful new meaning to bel canto. Arias drained of vibrato, absorbed by fire. Oddly haunting and beautiful.


  1. Okay, my (a) confession would be: I never got either opera OR Malcom McLaren. Which I've always felt marks me as the lowest form of middlebrow (to mix metaphors).

    That said, loved the last video selection.

    Do you know of an album called Coco de Mer, a collaboration between an electronic instrumentalist and a (soprano? alto?) You might like it. (I included the opening song from it at the start of this post a couple years ago. First heard it in a greeting-card store and immediately thought, Wow. What is THAT?)

  2. I've liked opera but I didn't know much about Malcom M until your post, so thank you for widening my world a little!

  3. Hmmm there is highbrow, lowbrow and well no brow....I think I must fall into the latter stages of that continuum as I never really 'got' opera.
    Maybe all that raaawwwwk music has fizzled my hearing over the years.
    That said though, I will check out the links, give it another try and report back ;)

  4. I always wondered what those "Addicted to Love" girls did in their spare time....

  5. My father in law introduced me to Opera. After his wife died, we went with him to Verona. Under a star-studded sky, we sat in the ancient Roman Coliseum, (yes, where Christians were once flung to the lions)and lost ourselves to several stunning evening performances, which often moved us to tears.

    He died shortly later. I often watch/listen to his DVD collection - a precious gift he has left us.

  6. as a kid i hated ballet and opera. i've come to appreciate ballet in my golden years but i'll probably have to live another 100 years to appreciate opera.

  7. well, I'm going to have to come back and listen to the arias.

  8. Once again, offered the unknown to consider and sample. Perhaps the greatest joy of blog browsing is discovery...I certainly find it here, especially in the world of music. And from JES, as well, with Coco de Mer. Thank you both...I am better informed than when I woke up.

  9. JES- Hmmm... I don't know about the taxonomy of "brows" but I have heard Coco and I think McLaren did it better. He got there first, too. But Lakme is heavenly and definitely the best on Coco's album. And high, low or mid brow, whatever it may be, I'm enjoying your blog. ;)

    Lydia- My pleasure. :)

    Dan- I don't think opera is necessarily highbrow. It's pretty accessible to all. I took my kids to an opera once--The Bug Opera-- and the characters, story and music was so entertaining they fell in love with the opera. Maybe it was lowbrow opera, though. I think nobrow is best. Give it a chance! ;)

    Nessa- Ha! That's good! They do look like the same girls. Maybe they are??!

    Shrinky- Oh my, to see opera under a star-studded sky in Verona... I'd be pretty teary, too. ;)

    BP- Well I hope you live another 100 years then. But you never know, it could happen before then... And as a former dancer (including ballet), I can tell you I'd rather see an opera than a dance performance. ;)

    Ellen- You do that!

    Laoch- Carmen is fantastic. Such fire! ;)

    Marylinn- I agree, we learn so much from one another. It's good fun. ;)

  10. Great videos. And what a screen capture for that first video. Who WOULDN'T want to click on that to see what it was?

  11. Those gals in "Madame Butterfly" must be the grown-up little sisters of Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love" beauties. Palmer started something.

    Opera, generally: I can appreciate the voices, the drama, the production. They were the--arguably superior--precursors of music video. But I can't love it. 'Course, I thought I couldn't love classical violin, either, and I was so wrong!

    Thanks for these videos. I'd never have seen them, otherwise.

  12. I am not nearly smart enough to appreciate opera!

  13. Beer- Yes, it is a bit of an attention grabber, isn't it?! (Placement's key.) ;)

    Nance- You're correct--the likeness is striking, and (I've done a little research) that's because both videos were filmed by the same photographer/director, Terence Donovan. But it was McLaren who set precedence with his 1984 video. Palmer's Addicted to Love was released in 1986. I guess emaciated models were in back then. Things haven't really changed much, have they? ;)

    Oh, Debbie- you don't fool me one bit. I'll bet you've got Pavarotti stashed away in your music library. ;)

  14. Hi Jayne - Thanks for your visits and kind comments.

    I've been browsing a bit... my, do we have a lot in common: transplanted Bostonians in RI, like red wine and Malcolm McLaren, dislike opera and Disney, just for starters.

    I've tried with opera, but so far, no. Someone once told me I'd appreciate it more if I understood the words, so I got a translation. They were all like

    Tell me you love me!

    I love you! I love you!

    Oh, I'm so happy!

    Bleah. Made doo-wop seem like Shakespeare. Now ,Never Mind The Bollocks... is one of the finest 30 mins of rock ever recorded, I think. But what do I know?

    Disney, to me, represents everything that is wrong with America, all in one neat little package. Ugh. But I want to leave a comment, not a post of my own, so I won't even start.

    All for now. I'll be back.

  15. p.s. - It occurs to me... you mentioned liking arias. The one time I did like opera, I was watching some program on Pavarotti, probably on PBS,and toward the end there was a clip of him singing with just a piano. Truly haunting and beautiful.

    For some reason, that one worked for me.

  16. As an audiophile, I enjoy when artists explore the combination of modern and classical.
    McLaren was (overly) theatrical, but very much embedded in pop-culture and making alternative mainstream.

    By the way, have you seen this? (Yo Yo Ma and Lil Buck)

  17. McLaren brought a lot of wonderful concepts to the world at large.

  18. Cricket- Yep, you got the correct translations for most operas! Though, I think it helps to see a stage production of Carmen or Mme Butterfly. Having just a bit of performance experience, I appreciate all that goes into it. But Pavarotti accompanied by only piano is quite beautiful, too.
    And Bollocks! Oh yes--The Sex Pistols and I go waaayyy back. Terrific album.
    Happy to have you stop by Cricket - you're most welcome to join us here anytime. I'm enjoying the reads over at your place. ;)

    Antares- Wow! I had not seen that Yo-Yo Ma clip. Quite something--that kid's whole body is double jointed! Thanks for passing it along. I love Yo-Yo - he's so versatile and seems like the absolute nicest guy. Amazing. :)

    Tattytiara- You are so right. It's quite amazing the extent to which he was involved in shaping the evolution of music and performance, in general. As odd as the guy was, he contributed an awful lot to pop culture. Thanks for stopping by!

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  21. P.S. Love Yo Yo Ma, for all the reasons you mentioned. And that "kid" is a former principal dancer with the New York City ballet. Gifted.

  22. Ebendy- Thanks for your kind words, and for the visit, too. I'll be popping over soon!

    Antares- Ha! I knew he had to have a background in ballet the way he managed en pointe in those sneakers!

  23. Thanks Jayne for the reply and will be expecting your visit and comments.Lovely day.