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.
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.
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.
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.
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.