Monday, October 10, 2016

Some famous songs for "belly dance"

(I'm using these videos with just the music, not the dancers, because so many of the videos that show the dancers seem not very family-friendly!)

(I love the music from this "Beats Antique" group. This represents some of the "tribal" and "fusion" types of "belly dance" music --- i.e., not so much the "Arabian" sound, but with a strong beat that's good for dancing and improvising.)

(Flamenco music is also well suited for "belly dance," and of course has the same roots...)

Speaking of flamenco, here are some great examples, and I think the "belly dance" I'm thinking of for the Colonel characters can involve some kind of mix between these types, including the clothing they wear(!)

But I like the idea of a march, fanfare....

Are all marches military in some way? Do the words "march" and "martial" come from the same root? I Googled this and found a fascinating article on the different verbs used by Martial and Ovid and Flavius. Hmmm, not what I was looking for.

Aha! Later: Yes, of course "march" comes from "martial," which comes from Mars, the Roman god of war.

From Origin: before 1050; Middle English March(e) < Anglo-French Marche; replacing Old English Martius < Latin, short for Mārtius mēnsis month of Mars (Mārti-, stem of Mārs + -us adj. suffix)

 (Chabrier, Marche des Cipayes )

(Grieg: March of the Dwarfs)

(Meredith Wilson: 76 Trombones, from "The Music Man")

(Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera, funeral march)

(Gounod: Funeral March of a Marionette, made famous when used as theme music for the Alfred Hitchcock TV show --- I love it because I can really imagine a marionette marching, sadly, to this music...)

(Nielsen: Aladdin: Incidental Music: Oriental Festive March)


 (Disney: Prince Ali: a march, of course!--- a grand entrance! --- and with an elephant!)

(And of course the greatest march of all time, the Triumphal March by Giuseppe Verdi, in "Aida" -- I chose this version because it has horses. I was hoping for elephants, but horses are, wow!)

(And, finally, this website for a listing of "40 Famous Marches," with links.)

Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream

(Reminds me of the beginning of the William Tell Overture---You too?)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Overtures: Pirates of Penzance

Here's one I'm more familiar with, having seen the musical a couple of times and listened to the music zillions of times as I was growing up (as opposed to all those operas which are not as familiar to me).

This overture does the usual recounting (fore-counting?) of all the songs in the musical, but not in the order they appear in the musical. I love the structure of the overture, how its beginning is recapped at the end, how themes are repeated, the beautiful melodies, and how it moves from one song to the next. (And I love this version of it for the series of still photos that accompanies the music.)

And here's a treat: a Web site with the "Pirates," including all the words and music --- and a karaoke MIDI file! --- for the whole 90-minute production.

Someone has managed to upload the whole movie version! Here it is (hopefully this will stay up):

 And if you don't have time for the whole thing, here's the Pirate King song:

Ernest in Love

Did you know that a musical has been made of Oscar Wilde's great play "The Importance of Being Earnest"? I did not know, until I found this great website, and, while searching for something else entirely, found a reference to this musical, "Ernest In Love."

Here is the list of songs in that musical:
  1. Overture
  2. Come raise your cup
  3. How do you find the words?
  4. The hat
  5. Mr. Bunbury
  6. Perfection
  7. A handbag is not a proper mother
  8. A wicked man
  9. Metaphorically speaking
  10. You can't make love
  11. Lost
  12. My very first impression
  13. The Muffin song
  14. My eternal devotion
  15. Ernest in love 
Another interesting note here, listing the "instrumentation":
Reed I (Piccolo/flute/clarinet), Reed II (oboe/clarinet), Reed III (bass clarinet [opt]/bassoon), piano, double bass
Really? That's all? Why not just use a Hammond organ with the various appropriate stops pulled out?

There is a great (but long, in my opinion---especially if you've read [and re-read, and re-read] the original play [as I did for a semester-long course once, long ago]) synopsis of the musical.

Why make a musical when there's a perfectly good, and entertaining, play of the same name? I do not know the answer to that question. Well, I admit, I haven't really thought about it for more time than it took me to write that question. So I'll think about it some more.

Maybe listening to a cast recording of the musical will give me some clues. Unh-unh. Ain't gonna happen. Such a thing does exist, and is available on Amazon for about 27 English pounds, but I'm thinking it isn't worth it.

Oh my goodness, it's not even necessary: It's all available on YouTube. Here's the overture:

And you can "sample" each of the songs by going to the Amazon site.  (However, I listened to part of one of them, which reminded me that life is short. 'Nuff said.)

Meanwhile, my point is just that you may be able to understand the story arc simply by looking at the titles of the songs.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Overtures: William Tell

And I love that this one is done by the U.S. Marine Corps Band:

For now, just notice how differently it starts (from the Orpheus overture). No fanfare, but a simple theme (like the rustic/romantic solos that follow the fanfare in the Orpheus overture). 

Then, some equally quiet but somehow foreboding woodwind bit, leading up to the menacing sound of a storm coming, joined in by the brass...then it gets quiet again, there's the flute solo, then the oboe solo, with another theme that we all recognize. Again, more instruments join in, then there's the fanfare, and the most famous part of all, the Lone Ranger theme, AKA "To da dump" to many school children in the U.S. And a big blow-the-socks-off-'em finale.

Here's a synopsis of the opera. This is way better than my clumsy recounting of the main parts of the overture, for sure! And the synopsis of the whole opera explains the main bits in the overture. Interesting note, from that same web page: 
"'Guillaume Tell' is the only opera by an Italian of which it can be said that the overture has gained world-wide fame, and justly so, white the opera itself is so rarely heard that it may almost be said to have passed out of the repertoire. Occasionally it is revived for the benefit of a high tenor like Tamagno. In point of fact, however, it is too good a work to be made the vehicle of a single operatic star." 

Again, I've never seen the opera itself, and apparently not many people have. But read the synopsis on that page to see what the whole story is. You'll love it, I'm sure, as I do. But here's more:
"The care which Rossini bestowed on this work is seen in the layout and composition of the overture, which as an instrumental number is as fine a tour de force as his "Una voce poco fa," "Bel raggio," or "Giorno d’orrore" are for voice. The slow introduction denotes Alpine calm. There is a beautiful passage for violoncellos, which has been quoted in books on instrumentation. In it Rossini may well have harked back to his student years, when he was a pupil in violoncello playing at the conservatory in Bologna. The calm is followed by a storm and this, in turn, by a "Ranz des Vaches." The final section consists of a trumpet call, followed by a fast movement, which can be played so as to leave the hearer quite breathless. It is supposed to represent the call to arms and the uprising of the the Swiss against their Austrian oppressors, whose yoke they threw off.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Mom Song (William Tell Overture)

Overtures: Orpheus in the Underworld

I like that this version is done by the U.S. Navy Concert Band. Also, as I'm reading about this, I'm finding out it was not a true "opera" but more a French version of Gilbert and Sullivan (though I've never seen the whole thing, and have only heard the overture scores of times).

Anyway, the structure: There's a fanfare, then quieting down, then that great clarinet solo, some more pastoral bits, and of course the so-called can-can, then more drama.

Okay, since I'm not that good at doing this, and not that patient, I found a source that did a whole outline: 

Here, I read that if you had seen it in Offenbach's time, you would have found it an 'outrageously funny "send-up" of Greek mythology." This article goes on to say it's a "highly disrespectful romp [and] involves nymphs, shepherds, gods and goddesses, with the fun reaching its climax in the riotous revels of the celebrated "Can-Can". A lively and highly enjoyable show for both performers and audience, with many world-famous tunes."

(More to come....)

Oh, what the heck, here's the whole plot from the link I gave above---which makes me really want to see the whole operetta/musical/opera bouffe---and I must say I *love* the idea of having a character called "Public Opinion."

After the brief overture the curtain rises on a pastoral scene in the countryside around the ancient Greek city of Thebes. Eurydice enters and sings of the shepherd boy Aristaeus, with whom she is having an affair. Eurydice is busy decorating Aristaeus' cottage when her husband, Orpheus, appears. He demands to know what Eurydice is doing. She tells him she loves Aristaeus and adds that she cannot stand Orpheus' fiddle-scraping. In revenge, Orpheus starts to play his latest 75-minute concerto and completely ignores his wife's pleas for him to stop.

Orpheus would love to relinquish Eurydice to Aristaeus, but Public Opinion would not allow it. Instead, Orpheus decides to get rid of Aristaeus and tells Eurydice of the nasty surprise which he has left in the shepherd's cornfield. When Aristaeus appears, Eurydice tries to stop him entering the cornfield, but he ignores her. Eurydice follows him, but suffers a snake bite. Suddenly, Aristaeus turns into his real self: Pluto, Lord of Hades. Eurydice falls, dying, into Aristaeus' arms. Eurydice dies but Pluto brings her briefly back to life so she can leave a farewell note for Orpheus. That done, Pluto takes her down to his underworld realm.

Orpheus finds Eurydice's note and, after his initial surprise, realises how pleased he is to be rid of his wife. His joy is short-lived. Public Opinion enters and demands that Orpheus go down to Hades to get Eurydice hack. Orpheus protests but, mindful of his professional reputation, he grudgingly agrees.

The scene changes to Mount Olympus where the god Morpheus (Dr Morpheus) is scattering poppies to induce the gods to sleep. Venus, Cupid and Mars, however, have been up all night. They return home, decidedly worn out. Soon afterwards, Mercury, messenger of the gods, arrives. The young, swaggering god, ordered by Jupiter to investigate the disappearance of Eurydice, comes breezing on to Mount Olympus to tell of his findings.

Orpheus enters together with Public Opinion, who wants to ensure that Orpheus does the honourable thing, that is, ask Jupiter to restore his wife to him. Pluto, of course, has lied to Jupiter about the location of Eurydice, whom he is keeping in his boudoir in Hades. She is guarded by John Styx. Styx was the King of Beotia. Now reduced to being Pluto's gaoler, he tries to entertain Eurydice with an account of his royal past.

When Orpheus and the gods arrive, Styx locks Eurydice in a back room. As there is no sign of her, Jupiter puts the abduction question before a tribunal. What he really wants, though, is to have Eurydice for himself and, to that end, he enlists the help of his young son, Cupid. Eurydice is located by Cupid's love police. Jupiter then turns himself into a fly to get past the keyhole of the locked door. Eurydice loves the fly. Jupiter reveals himself and invites Eurydice to meet him at a party on Mount Olympus.

Eurydice attends disguised as a bacchante, a follower of Bacchus, god of wine, but Pluto realises who she is and blocks Jupiter's path when Jupiter tries to make off with her. Jupiter again accuses Pluto of abducting Eurydice. When Orpheus and Public Opinion appear, Jupiter tells Orpheus he can take his wife away, but only if he does not look back at her as they go. When Orpheus fails this test, Pluto claims Eurydice. Jupiter, however, takes her away from Pluto by announcing that he is turning her into a real bacchante. Everyone, except Pluto and Public Opinion, is delighted and the operetta climaxes with the energetic Can-Can, danced by all the gods and goddesses.
(Credit: Guide to Musical Theatre)