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The Essay
Show #18
Operatic Food Fights
David Gunn
Bon radio! Again come into home your we, episode 18 with, bon radio, New Music Kalvos & Damian's Sesquihour Expansive, September 23rd, today, the Autumnal Sesquinox. Yes, live from Plainfood, Vermont, it is ... it is brought to you in part, a part, this part, the party of the first part pluperfect, any part in a storm, part on me boys is this the Chattanooga Choo-choo? I ... digress.

Wait, I remember! It's the 23rd of September, the Autumnal Sesquinox, and time to set those calendars ahead one month, so please do so if you haven't already. Now it's October. But only on Saturdays, remember.

Today is the 189th anniversary of the death of Vincenzo Bellini, popular 19th century Italian opera composer who brought into fashion the style called "bel canto," or, with food. As a young lad, he worked as a shepherd in his grandfather's piano factory, where he developed a passion for both singing and eating, often at the same time. He also played the piano, and practiced Night and Day, which is proof that the song was written more than a century before commonly thought. Vince soon gravitated to opera and, recalling those halcyon days in the factory, began to incorporate actual dining scenes in his operas, usually in Acts 3 or 4, when he felt the singers were beginning to flag. One of his greatest operas, "Norma," contains no fewer than 18 opportunities to chow down, including a brief take-out scene which involves the audience. The enormous success of this bel canto style led to opera houses opening concession stands and later to the dinner theater. Ever eager to stretch the boundaries of opera goers' good taste, Bellini produced his last opera, La Flambeau Oriange, on September 22, 1846, in which he introduced the short-lived style called "bel canto furioso," or food fight. During the notorious war of the vegetables which consumes most of Act 4, Bellini was struck in the head by a pumpkin, and he died the next day, as did the spectacle of operatic food fights. It is this commentator's opinion, however, that such performance antics are sadly missed, and the reintroduction of them would give many a dreary and lengthy foreign-accented songfest a much-needed shot in the arm. Or head.

Today's show, much like last week's show, is divisible by many of the same numbers which appear on your radio dial. To find out for sure, stay tuned. If your radio, in fact, stays tuned to this station, then ... it is.

I'm sorry, I've just been glancing through the latest version of McGuffy's Reader, whose author was born on this date 195 years ago, and the syntactical and grammatical changes that have occurred in the language since then have made making sense out of my thoughts today problematic at best. I can only say that, yes, it's WGDR, and yes, it's the Sesquihour Expansive, and yes, it is now about to be coming to you in the guise of Kalvos.