Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


 [Rescued from Drafts]

Went to La fanciulla del West, the Met version, at Nova, prompting a number of reflections on the early evolution of the Western:

So on to read the Belasco novelisation of his play (fancy novelisations being so early. I had no idea) -
Lolling back on the rear seat of the stage, her eyes half closed,--the
sole passenger now, and with the seat in front piled high with boxes
and baskets containing _rebozos_, silken souvenirs, and other finery
purchased in the shops of the old town,--the Girl...

Rebozos! Fancy.
a new acquaintance, whose accent, as well as the timbre of his
voice, gave ample evidence that he belonged to another order of society
than her own and that of the boys.
Unusually class-conscious for a western. Especially as it crosses race lines; the guy is half-Mexican.

And a Mexican patriot... his father had been
the last, with the exception of himself and son, of a proud, old, Spanish family. It was a terrible blow, and increased, if possible, his hatred for the Americans.
Later the old man took part in the battle of San Pasquale and the Mesa.
In the last engagement he was badly wounded, but even in that condition
he announced his intention of fighting on and bitterly denounced his
fellow-officers for agreeing to surrender.
So the son is not so much a bandit, still less a gunfighter, more a guerilla.
"Do you know who you are?" And not waiting for a reply he went on with:
"Our name is one of the proudest in Spain--none better! The curse of a
long line of ancestors will be upon you if you tamely submit--not make
these Americans suffer for their seizure of this, our rightful land--our
beautiful California!"
Which doesn't come out in the opera to speak of.

Interesting, too, the way the current justification for taking the law in your own hands varies over time.
"A bandit? You, father, a Ramerrez, a bandit?"

"Ay, a bandit, an outlaw, as you also will be when I am no more, and
rob, rob, rob, these _Americanos_. It is my command and--you--have--
sworn . . ."
Till today there's no justification required; that's just what gunfighters do.

A pity, though, there was no room in the opera for this:
Clear above the babel of voices sounded a chord, and the poor old concertina player began singing in a voice that was as wheezy as his instrument:
"Camp town ladies sing this song
Dooda! Dooda!
Camp town race track five miles long
Dooda! Dooda! Day!
Odd, too, now that I come to think of it, that the bad girl, Nina Micheltore├▒a, never appears in the opera; You'd think there would be chances for more than one soprano.

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