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The Birth and Transformation of a Carol

The Birth of a Carol

One of the great standard Christmas carols, one of those most likely to be performed by the carolers who will come to your doorstep soon in observance of the season, is ‘O Holy Night.’ In the original French language version, this was known as ‘Cantique de Noël.’ Indeed, the title is a clue that we might fairly take this as the standard Christmas carol because that’s exactly what “Cantique de Noël” means!

In French, though, Cantique … Continue Reading

The Music For An Old And Lasting German Legend

The Music For An Old And Lasting German Legend

According to a very old German legend, one which has come to be expressed in every theatrical form from grand opera to puppet plays to Broadway musicals, a medieval scholar named Faust or Faustus made a deal with Satan, offering the Evil One his soul for unending post-mortem punishment, in return for elusive knowledge and worldly pleasure. The specific lure or combination of lures that led to … Continue Reading

Anton Rubinstein and Sacred Opera

Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

Imagine watching a pre-dawn scene. This is a building site. The master workman awakens his workers to continue their efforts on a tower. Only gradually, as you watch this ‘geistliche oper,’ this ‘sacred opera,’ do you realize which tower this is. For this is the tower of Babel – and in due course Nimrod himself will come on stage to boast that this tower shall reach Heaven and he shall speak face to face with God.

The opera is … Continue Reading