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From Offenbach to ‘Weird Al’

Jacques Offenbach

This is as much a story of the parodied as of the parodists. One cannot discuss one without the other. So fear not, Lady Gaga fans, we shall get to the object of your devotion in due time. But we will start, somewhat arbitrarily, a century and a half ago, in Paris. Jacques Offenbach was the great parodist to emerge from that time and place.

One fine example of his work in this field, his development of the form of an … Continue Reading

The Five Greatest Trojan-War Operas

The Five Greatest Trojan-War Operas

A magnetic influence upon the whole of human culture, both through Homer’s texts and through Virgil’s, it remains: the Trojan War. Just to take one recent example of its pull: Philip Roth’s novel, The Human Stain (2003) begins with a classroom discussion of The Iliad, and specifically of the reason for the wrath of Achilles.

Here, then, is a list of what I have deemed the five greatest operas that work from the Iliad, the … Continue Reading