Archives for posts with tag: opera

Janet Baker
Lessons from Mahler
by Joanne Corey

In Sage Hall 5 at Smith, spring 1980, our music theory professor places the needle on the final band of the album of Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder. The voice of mezzosoprano Janet Baker emerges from the orchestra:

Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen…
I am lost to the world…

She weaves her way among the delicately orchestrated lines, answers the English horn, sings of how the world may think she is dead because she has set aside its tumult to rest in a quiet place. In serenity:

Ich leb’ allein in meinem Himmel,
In meinem Lieben, in meinem Lied.
I live alone in my heaven,
in my love, in my song.

As the English horn resolves a suspension at the final cadence, I look up from my score to see our professor weeping.

Analysis of
chromatic chords failed that day.
Tears taught me Mahler.

Thirty-five years on
life, faith, love, music combine.
Eyes well, spirit rests.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My friend and roommate Mary Wallace took this photo of me at the console of the 1910 Austin organ in John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus, Northampton, Massachusetts. It appears in our Smith Class of 1982 yearbook.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the summer 2015 session of the Binghamton Poetry Project, I learned about the haibun form and have been experimenting with it. This is the first haibun I am sharing with a wider audience.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanne Corey lives and writes in Vestal, New York, where she is active with the Binghamton Poetry Project, Sappho’s Circle, and the Bunn Hill Poets. Her 2015 publications include the spring anthology of the Binghamton Poetry Project, Candles of Hope anthology (GWL Publishing, U.K.), the “All About My Name,” “My Perfect Vacation,” and “My Sweet Word” poetry series from Silver Birch Press, and Wilderness House Literary Review fall quarterly. She invites you to visit her eclectic blog at

by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

In “Man of La Mancha,” Don Quixote sings
of the knight of the “woeful countenance” while
Cervantes, roused from endless siesta by strings
of pitches spinning his masterwork, hears vile,

barbaric sounds thumped by druid bards while
Spain’s poet ponders: Could such sounds be true
to my Latin tongue? No! Not words are these but vile
noise made by Celts. known to paint their faces blue!

He turns an earth-stained ear to a new, maybe true
sound, uneasy and sensual, lovelorn and dark,
a clumsy, un-Latin grief, unnatural and blue:
It is Wagner’s Siegmund, fleeing the bark

of wolves and men, calling himself “Woeful”; dark
becomes light when he claims a fateful sword
and his womb-mate, conceiving a hero to bark
at dragons, defy a grandfather-god and conquer

warrior maid Brunhilde, then die by greed’s sword:
the lust for power to rule an unhappy world;
she will order the pyre to purge and conquer,
redeem her hero-mate, her father-god, the world

like Dulcinea could not do, not in her world
of toiling riffraff with no recourse to gods:
she is the town whore, slaying dragons in her world
herself to save her windmill-slaying knight whose odes

to Goodness are yawned at by untrustworthy gods –
same as mortals, spiteful, vain, always on the prowl –
still her knight dreams of Victory, singing his odes
to Justice and Righteous Virtue while others scowl.

and scoff, unlike Woeful’s son who does not prowl,
write odes or dream but bets his guileless blood
stronger than fickle gods; his songs, his scowl,
his might and pure intent stand against a flood

of sin; this fearless son, this Woeful son, whose blood
yearns to serve the needful is sure no tragic
act can wound him – no spear, no fire, no flood –
he fights unsuspecting the wifely magic

shielding his every side but a turned back; tragic
finale, fitting for Wagner, waits for him. Strange
bedfellows, if bedfellows: Teutonic magic
and Latin romance. Woefuls, all of us, exchange

Athens for Sparta, Sparta for Rome and strange
uneven legacies, unspeakable futures; in need,
all of us; woeful, all of us, daring an exchange.
Which is which or better? No guarantee a deed

whipped from fairy tale and myth can ease the need
for hope, but we must have hope to calm wild strings
of will and debt, savage and pawn, honor and deed,
to ward off dread and not go mad, whoever sings.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Woefuls” is a conflation of two legends/stories and two artistic forms: Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote with the Norse/Germanic myth, “The Nibelungenlied,” and the Wasserman Broadway musical The Man of La Mancha with the second opera of Wagner’s monumental Ring Cycle, Die Walkure. Watching, but particularly listening, to the music of both the opera and musical, I was struck by the use of the word “woeful” in both works, so different, such odd worlds, and yet concluding on the same note.

IMAGE: “Visions of Don Quixote” by Octavio Ocampo (1989).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angela Consolo Mankiewicz has published four chapbooks, the most recent An Eye, published by Pecan Grove Press and As If, from Little Red Books-Lummox. Publications include: Poets/Artists, Full of Crow, Long Poem Magazine (UK), Poiesis, PRESA, Re)Verb, BrooklynVoice, , Istanbul Literary Review, Arsenic Lobster, The Temple, Slipstream, Hawaii Review, Microbe (Belgium) Lynx Eye, Pemmican, ArtWord.  Other recognitions include two Pushcart nominations and 1st and Grand Prizes from Trellis Magazine, JerseyWorks, and Amelia. Her work has been included in the Lummox Press anthology The Long Way Home: Best of the Little Red Books (2009) and Obsessions: Sestinas in 21st Century (UPNE, 2014). The Grummel Book, her children’s stories, has been reissued on CD by SHOOFLY; Laura Hanson, a novella, was serialized by ESC!Magazine. In 2012, her chamber opera, One Day Less, music by D. Javelosa, was performed at the Broad 2nd Space in Santa Monica, California. She is also a contributing editor for Small Press Review. Visit her at

This old-timey track features English tenor Ernest Pike (1871-1936) and Eleanor Jones-Hudson (1874-1946), a soprano from Wales, singing “Oh! That We Two Were Maying,” with lyrics from the Charles Kingsley poem.  Ernest Pike was one of the most prolific tenors in the history of recorded music, and also appeared regularly in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.