Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Opera Wednesday

The Ballad of Baby Doe was composed in 1956 by Douglas Moore. It was one of the first great American operas, and as Wikipedia mentions, one of the few to enter the standard opera repertory. At that, it's not performed often enough; Baby Doe is one of my poster children for my campaign to question whether we need to continue commissioning new operas (which are seldom performed beyond their world premieres) when there's so much underperformed (or forgotten) opera already out there.*

*For example, does the Minnesota Opera really need to create a program to produce a newly commissioned opera each year, when works by Floyd, Menotti, Barber and Moore are still out there? Of course, to their credit they did produce Herrmann's Wuthering Heights this season, but I see that as the exception that proves the rule.

Baby Doe was one of the great roles for Beverly Sills, one that brought fame to both her and the opera. In this rare TV clip from 1962, part Opera Wednesday and part Retro TV Friday, we see the composer, Douglas Moore, discussing his opera, followed by a performance of its best-known aria, "The Willow Song," by Beverly Sills herself.

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