Beelzebub and Galileo

Daniel Nester

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.

Daniel Nester has also written two books of poetry about the rock band Queen, “God Save My Queen” and “God Save My Queen II”, so we dove into a textual analysis of Queen’s classic pastiche “Bohemian Rhapsody”, concluding that the mysterious song appears to be a rhapsody but bears little connection to Puccini’s “La Boheme” and instead vaguely resembles the plot of Pietro Mascagni’s one-act verismo masterpiece “Cavalleria Rusticana”, with a whole lot of Scaramouche, Figaro, Galileo, Magnifico and Beelzebub thrown in. We even discovered that our guest’s lamp (visible in the photo above) is an operatic reference to the commedia dell’arte character Harlequin.

But that’s just the beginning of a podcast episode that I really put together just for fun, because I want every episode of my experimental opera podcast to aim for something new, and because a solid year of pandemic and rampant sociopolitical cultural alienation in New York City has left me with a yearning for the kind of literary community we had in downtown Manhattan 20 years ago when both Daniel Nester and I could be found hanging around the Bowery Poetry Club in Greenwich Village. Today’s episode of “Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera” includes some unabashed nostalgia for a spoken word poetry scene that once helped me discover my own identity as a writer. We talk about lots of things here: the slam innovator Bob Holman, Regie Cabico, the significance of karaoke to poetry, Pittsburgh baseball, the meaning of the term “legato”, Nester’s dormant podcast “Album Oriented”, the surprising note of tragedy in the songs of Freddie Mercury and Brian May, and so much more. Enjoy! A new season has begun.

 

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