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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: June 16, 2006 Archive


Posted at 9:44 AM on June 16, 2006 by Rex Levang

Mr Browne could go further back still, to the old Italian companies that used to come to Dublin – Tietjens, Ilma de Mazurka, Campanini, the great Trebelli, Giuglini, Ravelli, Aramburo. Those were the days, he said, when there was something like singing to be heard in Dublin. He told too of how the top gallery of the old Royal used to be packed night after night, of how one night an Italian tenor had sung five encores to Let Me Like a Soldier Fall, introducing a high C every time, and of how the gallery boys would sometimes in their enthusiasm unyoke the horses from the carriage of some great prima donna and pull her themselves through the streets to her hotel. Why did they not play the grand old operas now, he asked, Dinorah, Lucrezia Borgia? Because they could not get the voices to sing them: that was why.

--James Joyce, The Dead

June 16 is the day on which Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” takes place. It’s a book of hundreds of pages in which Joyce follows his hero Leopold Bloom through the streets of Dublin, depicting, scrutinizing, amplifying and mythifying all the events in one day of Bloom’s life. Today, the 16th has also become the occasion for a celebration of all things Joycean.

Joyce himself was a gifted singer and a passionate music-lover. Joyce being Joyce and Ireland being Ireland, music is never far away in “Ulysses” and Joyce’s other works, and there’s a whole cottage (and Web) industry devoted to Joyce and music – or should I say, music music music music, since no single link is enough.

Happy Bloomsday!

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