Law and Order on the Opera Stage

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Marily Horne and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Marily Horne and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Matthew Septimus)

On today's program, the highest art in the land meets the highest court: presiding mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne talks with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a noted opera fan who has even appeared onstage in cameo roles. "If truth be told, lawyers and law do not come off very well in opera," she explains.

Our own commentator La Cieca concurs with the majority: "I really must say that judges get a terrible rap in opera.” Together we hear oral arguments from Verdi and Bernstein.

Operavore contributor David Patrick Stearns give us his verdict on the Met’s new production of Rigoletto.

And in advance of the Super Bowl, a little something for football fans. The bass Morris Robinson – who was a two-time all-America offensive lineman at the Citadel – talks about the parallels between the gridiron and the opera stage.


The Greatest Opera Courtroom Scenes

The opera and operetta repertoires have long involved legal trials. In Verdi's Aida, Radamès is put on trial for his unwitting betrayal of a state secret. Britten's Billy Budd (based on Herman Melville's novella) has long been a topic of fascination in legal circles: discussion centers around whether the title character was unjustly executed and whether the man who sent him to his death, Captain Starry Vere, was a jurisprudential hero or villain.

Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial By Jury involves a legal system run amok: a shameless cad fights a breach-of-promise suit brought by his jilted lover. Janacek's Makropulos Case involves a contested will while Robert Ward's The Crucible (based on Arthur Miller's play) takes place during the Salem witch trials.


Photo: © Beth Bergman 2010

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Comments [6]

the blind one

La Cieca is an embarrassment, I hope WQXR didn't sign a contract. Nothing more depressing than hear a nobody pretending to be a woman who's not really funny or a comedian.

Feb. 02 2013 03:51 PM

First of all, Marilyn Horne is the consummate professional and brings the most wonderful tone, common sense and perspectives to your Opera Show. I say, give her the whole half hour!
Her interview with Terrance McNally was excellent and brave for both of them to criticize the awful opera productions of late --please see the pathetic, fawning review of Rigoletto on this site. You can bet Beverly Sills would be hanging Gelb out to dry and kicking George Steele in the pants for selling off NYCO's patrimony.
And this week, Marilyn talking to Justice Ginsberg was two elegant, intelligent gals right out of The Quartet, a truly splendid current movie in the vein of Downton Abbey about opera and old age that had every eye in the theater weeping.
Brava Ms. Horne and please keep doing more!!! We love you on the stage and off!

Feb. 02 2013 03:12 PM
Annamaria and Sergio Stefani from NYC

Please delete "La Cieca". He is a poor imitation of Stefano Zucker and is not as entertaining.

Feb. 02 2013 01:00 PM

Silly me, I thought La Cieca was a "one off" last week. Enough please.
If I want silliness, I'll buy another ticket to see Dame Edna Everage.

Feb. 02 2013 12:55 PM
ardath_bey

Andrea Chenier is condemned to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Poliuto is sentenced to death and thrown to the lions at the Temple of Jupiter. Both men are joined by women who love them and choose to die by their side though they haven't been convicted.

Feb. 02 2013 12:33 PM
sunshine

Please please change the pseudo La Ciega. Whatever "it" has to say is lost in the annoyance of the grating tone of the Saturday morning cartoons.

Jan. 31 2013 05:08 PM

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