A battleship in Il Trovatore in Marx Brothers A Night at the Opera

Comprehending Trovatore

Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” is one of the most popular operas of all time, and also one of the hardest to follow. What is going on with this crazy plot? There’s a lot under the surface, and it’s all spelled out in this explainer by Marc Eliot Stein, who shows how a thrilling but nakedly horrible storyline became an entertainment fit for 19th century operagoers. This fascinating episode ends with a look at the Marx Brothers “A Night at the Opera”, which joyously tears Verdi’s masterpiece to shreds.

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What We’re Up To

Litkicks is 26 years old! It’s been a journey. Lately we’re busy doing a couple of excellent podcasts.

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Daniel Nester

Beelzebub and Galileo

Season 3 of “Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera” has kicked off with something different! We are joined by Daniel Nester, poet, author, professor and podcaster, and one of only a few people I’ve ever met who has actually co-written a libretto for a modern opera, “The Summer King” by Daniel Sonenberg.

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A found mirror on Ocean Ave in Flatbush, Brooklyn

A Compendium of Raindrops

It was a rough day for me back in February of this year when the great Beat publisher, bookseller, pacifist and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti died at the age of 101, and I couldn’t post about it on Litkicks. I was right in the middle of migrating this entire website to a new software platform, and was unable to create a new blog post.

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The Walls Of Our Cage: Reading John Edgar Wideman

I took the #WidemanChallenge, in which a few literary critics, bloggers and journalists spent the end of 2020 calling attention to a writer that too few people know about: John Edgar Wideman, an important voice from the Rust Belt whose works are keenly relevant in the year of George Floyd. Here’s what happened when I read two of his books.

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Scorched Earth

There’s a smell of scorched earth in the air lately, here in America. It’s smoke from Pacific coast wildfires, and it’s something more: the warning scent of an authoritarian future we must avoid, even as our society chokes on climate change, racism, social injustice, predatory capitalism and military escalation. Scorched earth is what I see when I close my eyes and think about the direction the USA is going in right now.

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Michael McClure, Animal Poet

The poet Michael McClure, who died on May 4, 2020 in his home in Oakland, California, was one of five readers at the seminal Six Gallery poetry reading in San Francisco in 1955 that kicked off the Beat Generation …

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Bugs Bunny as Figaro and Elmer Fudd as Bartolo in Rabbit of Seville

Leap Day

Yesterday was Leap Day, February 29, 2020. I spent the day in a mad frenzy, because about 24 hours earlier I suddenly realized time was running out for me to write, record, edit, assemble, publish and metatag the February episode of “Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera”, the podcast I launched a year ago. I got the February episode out in February, because Leap Day saved my ass.

Creating podcasts is still a learning experience for me, and this is the fastest episode I ever created …

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A Journey Of Voice

I took a walk through Prospect Park today. These hilly acres in the middle of Brooklyn were designed to get you lost, with swerving paths that make you think you’re walking in a definite direction as they subtly turn you back again until you pass the spot where you started and realize you’ve turned completely around. If you ever tried to walk Prospect Park without a map you know what I’m talking about. If you ever tried to walk Prospect Park with a map you probably know what I’m talking about too, because that map really isn’t going to help. It’s kinda like life, and there are plenty of ways to get lost outside of Brooklyn too, whether you carry a map or not.

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