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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Verdi-Otello-Crisco™ Joke

We present a classic anecdote of the opera, which I first read in The Rough Guide To Opera, an excellent referential guide to all things pertaining to the maddest of the fine arts. We are proud to give you....


(not brought to you by Crisco, a product of the J.M. Smucker Co.)






SHORTENING OTELLO
The celebrated Austrian tenor, Leo Slezak, was singing Otello at the Houston Opera House and here he recounts how the program set out the operatic entertainment for the evening. Slezak was aware that American Opera Houses had pioneered the exploitation of sponsorship and advertising but even the humorously quick-witted Slezak was unprepared for the way that Crisco, a brand of shortening (baking fat) was brought to the attention of the audience:



OTELLO
Opera in four acts, by Giuseppe Verdi


Act 1
The people of Cyprus on their knees are praying for the safety of Otello, whose ship is fighting the elements. The danger passes, Otello arrives and greets the people with the words:

USE CRISCO, THE BEST SHORTENING

"Rejoice! The Turk is vanquished and drowned in the sea" The people hail Otello:

CRISCO IS UNSURPASSED

Iago, jealous of Cassio, who enjoys Otello's confidence, tries to render Cassio drunk. A drinking song:

CRISCO HAS NO RIVAL

is heard, and Cassio, by now quite drunk, attacks Montano. Otello rushes in and calls out:

CRISCO IS ECONOMICAL

"Down with your swords!" Cassio is being demoted. Desdemona, Otello's bride, appears in the doorway to the castle. Otello takes her hand and they sing a lovely duet:

CRISCO USERS ARE SATISFIED

which belongs to the best Verdi wrote, and is considered one of the pearls of operatic music.

And so it continued through to the finale.

After Otello has strangled Desdemona, he plunges his dagger into his breast, and dying, sings the touching phrase:

ASK ONLY FOR CRISCO, THE FAMOUS SHORTENING

"Kiss me, kiss me again!" He dies. End of the opera.

From The Rough Guide to Opera by Matthew Boyden. Used without permission and reposted here by me purely for amusement value. Photo from dolcepress.com
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.