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In Brief: Inaugural Edition

LinksHello, America! Welcome to Washington, D.C. We hope you enjoy your visit. Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.

  • With another hat tip to Alex Ross, Choire Sicha's interview with Alec Baldwin revealed yet again the actor's obsession with classical music: "He found the browser and went to 'I love this. Isn't this great? Couldn't you just sit and do this all day? I'm looking for 'Ultimate Chopin.' What could be more worthy than that? Ah! The complete collection of Rachmaninoff. Complete recordings!' His face darkened and a little swearing ensued. 'This is Dutoit with the Montreal! What is the problem? You lying . . . ! Ultimate collection. Well, we don't see Ashkenazy.' This went on for a while then a phone rang. 'Can't you see I'm listening to Chopin?' he said, in a put-on accent. 'I can't be bothered with this. . . .' " [The Envelope]

  • Justin Davidson hit the nail on the head describing the choices facing New York City Opera: "To one side is a fiscal abyss; to the other a gentler, more cautious slope toward extinction, strewn with cut-rate Verdi. In between are several paths to a flourishing future, if only the company can be honest, humble, and radical enough to find one." The title of the article -- "Hit the Road, Giacomo" -- is so good I wish I had thought of it. [New York Magazine]

  • Justin focused on the old speculation that George Steel was being considered to take over NYCO, but for a wild moment La Cieca floated the possibility that Joe Volpe, former Met strong man, was in the running. That intelligence turned out to be wrong, but it sure was fun to think about for a while. [Parterre Box]

  • Jessica Duchen (with the help of cellist Steven Isserlis) attempts to uncover the truth about the reputed liaison between Felix Mendelssohn and the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, whom he accompanied in a concert in 1845 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. In the last months of his life, Mendelssohn was writing an opera for Lind called Die Lorelei, about a woman who becomes a seductive, man-destroying spirit, in revenge for being rejected by the man she loves. The evidence about Mendelssohn and Lind supposedly lies in "a document buried in the bowels of the Royal Academy of Music," an affidavit by Lind's husband, Otto Goldschmidt, describing a letter he destroyed, allegedly written by Mendelssohn to Lind shortly before he died, "declaring passionate love for her, begging her to elope with him to America, and threatening suicide if she refused." I find it hard to believe that no Mendelssohn or Lind scholar has sniffed this out before (the Goldschmidt documents are fairly well known, if some parts were generally edited out of the published correspondence, marked by Goldschmidt as "confidential"), but there appears to be no reference in the recent biography by R. Larry Todd. [The Independent]

  • In case you missed it, you can now use Google Earth to zoom into the Museo del Prado and look at 14 of its famous paintings in extreme close-up. It certainly cannot replace looking at Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights in person, but you can see the paint a whole lot closer in the 1,600 high-resolution digital photographs of every square inch of its surface. [International Herald Tribune]

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