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Vacation Listening, and Much More

On May 13, I was baking cookies and listening to the Met Broadcast of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. One of the announcers explained that this production would take place not in the 18th century, but in 1911, the year it was composed (also the year that Mahler died, I thought to myself). And that’s when it came to me—other people talk about vacation reading, so why not some vacation opera listening when I attend Colorado MahlerFest XXX next week?

So I downloaded the English libretto to have on my braille notetaker, and borrowed the German and English libretto of Der Rosenkavalier (BRM35119 volume 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). While waiting at the airport, I listened to the CD and read the English libretto from the notetaker, this opera text joining the many other books and articles that reside on my notetaker. Later, during quiet moments in my motel room (when not listening to Mahler), I got out the braille volumes. How good it was to have original German and translation on facing pages (English “Mignon” equals German “Quinquin”). Best of all, as I was not attending an actual performance, I could listen to complicated parts over and over, reading a different character’s words each time.

You may learn more about Der Rosenkavalier and its composer from the biography of Richard Strauss by Matthew Boyden (Richard StraussDB 51175). The braille reader will find more information about R. Strauss’s operas in Opera Synopses: A Guide to the Plots and Characters of the Standard Operas, by J. Walker McSpadden, BRM24305. In addition to the libretto that I used (BRM35119), we have BRM22370, BRF00708 (German braille only, not on BARD) and LPM00446 (large print).

On cartridge, we have lectures by Michael Barclay (DBM00767), and Ann Thompson (DBM01364). NLS also has two books by M. Owen Lee that may be of interest: First Intermissions, (BR 11664 vol. 1 and 2; or DB 46718), and The Operagoer’s Guide (BR 14508, volumes 1, 2, and 3).

Did you know that you can play parts of Der Rosenkavalier at the piano? A “Concert Waltz” by Otto Singer is available: for two pianos (BRM35248, bar-over-bar format), or for piano solo (BRM07810, bar-by-bar; or BRM23348, bar-over-bar).

Knowing more about this work may help you enjoy one of NLS’s latest books, A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams (DB 85922). Here is the description: “A beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera … set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.” How’s that for a vacation read?

And finally, to learn more about Colorado MahlerFest, check out the blog I wrote two years ago, “Thirstier for Life Than Ever.”

For Braille Readers—A Real Treasure Trove

This afternoon, I looked at the Metropolitan Opera schedule, which appears in the October-December issue of our quarterly magazine The Musical Mainstream. It lists all of the operas to be performed, along with NLS materials, librettos, lectures, etc., pertaining to the operas. Nowhere did I find any mention of a reference book that I read […]

Music History: 101

Recently, we mentioned the Music Section’s acquisition of the sixth edition, Norton Anthology of Western Music, Vol. 3, Twentieth Century. This time of year also marks the beginning of the college spring semester, and we have seen a rise in the average amount of our music history related inquiries. Music history has been on the “brain” of […]

Some Splendid Saint-Saëns Selections

Today we celebrate the 179th birthday of Camille Saint-Saëns, a famous French composer, most well-known for his works The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, and a number of other pieces. Saint-Saëns began his musical studies at the incredible age of three, while he was living with his mother and aunt in […]

Opera Fans Know What’s Happening, but the Devil is in the Details or…Libretti for Everybody!

Some of the Music Section’s most ardent patrons are operagoers.  This comes as no surprise to other opera aficionados, but blind/low vision operagoers are usually not able to pick up a program in braille or large print and read a synopsis when they arrive at the theater; that is, until they (or the opera companies) […]