by Jarrett Hoffman
IN THIS EDITION:
•OLO’s Hello, Dolly! at 2:00
•Opera news: a profile of Detroit Opera’s Yuval Sharon (pictured), recent adjustments to Madama Butterfly, and a politician spotted at Glyndebourne
•Almanac: “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” the breeding season of sheep, and other topics in the letters of Oscar Hammerstein II
Detroit Opera artistic director Yuval Sharon is profiled in a New York Times Magazine article by Mark Binelli titled “Is the Future of American Opera Unfolding in Detroit?”
In the Times, Farah Nayeri explores how Boston Lyric Opera and the Royal Opera House “have taken a critical look at Madama Butterfly to correct its clichés, caricatures and anachronisms.”
And a U.K. politician was recently photographed attending a performance of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at the Glyndebourne opera house — which led to controversy. Read Kyle Macdonald’s Classic FM article here.
A 1,088-page book published earlier this year is a timely — if time-intensive — way to celebrate lyricist, librettist, and musical theater icon Oscar Hammerstein II, who was born on this date in 1895 in New York City.
Mark Eden Horowitz, a Senior Music Specialist at the Library of Congress, took the plunge into the Library’s collection of Hammerstein’s many correspondences: 25,000 letters. Of those, Horowitz transcribed “the best ones” — a mere 4,600.
And of those, the cream of the crop made the cut for The Letters of Oscar Hammerstein II — “letters that showcase not just the creative Hammerstein, but Hammerstein the businessman, the mentor, the activist, and occasionally, the corrector,” Bob Mondello writes in an article for NPR.
If a thousand-page book isn’t your idea of a good time (perhaps your copy of Infinite Jest is well-acquainted with a dustbunny or two), that article highlights a handful of interesting and often amusing letters.
One exchange centered around a falsehood in the song “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” from Carousel, particularly in these lines:
The sheep aren’t sleepin’ any more!
All the rams that chase the ewe-sheep
Are determined there’ll be new sheep
And the ewe-sheep aren’t even keepin’ score!
The problem, as was pointed out to Hammerstein, is that sheep tend to mate only once a year: not in June, but in late autumn.
He responded thus:
I was delighted with the parts of your letter praising my work, and thrown into consternation by the unwelcome news about the eccentrically frigid behavior of ewes in June. I have since checked your statement and found it to be true. It looks very much as if, in the interests of scientific honesty, I shall have to abandon the verse dealing with sheep.
A film version of Carousel was released in 1956. Watch the clip featuring “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” here.