Culture Magazine

Today in Opera History - May 25

By Pinkall @pinkall

On this date in 1878, the Gilbert and Sullivan opera H.M.S. Pinafore made its world premiere at the Opera Comique in London.  This was the first big hit for Gilbert and Sullivan and spurned the creation of more comic operas.  This style of music later developed into what we now know as the musical.

On this date last year, the South African tenor, Siphiwo Ntshebe died of meningitis just days before he was to sing his pop-opera single, Hope, in the opening ceremony for the 2010 World Cup.  I know pop-opera hits always send shivers up the spines of opera singers - and this one is no different - but his music was inspiring and certainly opened the ears of many to the art of the voice.

The great impressionist composer, Gustav Holst, died on this date in 1934.  His operas were certainly unique, as two are inspired by Hindu mysticism and Sanskrit texts. However, I cannot express how much I revere Holst.  Please, if you have some free time, listen to the following clip below.  It is the "Jupiter: the Bringer of Jollity" movement from his orchestral suite, The Planets.  It is one of the most exciting and emotional pieces of music that I know of.  Just watch how crazy the conductor gets...I would probably do the same.

On this date in 1953, KUHT in Houston became the first public television station to broadcast in the US.  Public TV exposed me to opera for the first time, as well as some awesome kids shows.  Anyone remember David the Gnome?

Did anyone notice that they spelled "medicine" wrong?
Today is the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy announcing our intent to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.  Believe it or not, there is an opera called Man on the Moon by Johnathan Dove.  I haven't looked at the music at all, but it is very obviously a Minimalist composition. (click here to read a past blog post describing Minimalism - skip to the "Nixon in China" part.) Here are some clips...it's actually pretty entertaining.



And on a similar note, on this day in 1977, Star Wars was released.  Its actual description is a "space opera" and on a special note, the composer who wrote the music to Star Wars, John Williams, sponsors a scholarship through the Kansas City Vocal Institute.  There is a currently a touring show called "Star Wars: In Concert", that is essentially an orchestral concert of the Star Wars music.  Watch the exciting opening "movement" of the concert.


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