Monday, December 19, 2011

Opera World Mourns Loss of Prolific Composer Kim Jong Il & More Operatic Christmas Gifts

Kim Jong Il (1942-2011)
Allegedly composed six operas and wrote the world's leading guide on operatic art "Kim Jong Il - On the Art of Opera"

Kim Jong Il - toy figurine

Beethoven - statue

Kim Jong Il (Dear Leader) was one of the greatest musicians in history.  He is arguably most famous for besting Tiger Woods as the greatest golfer of all time by hitting 11 holes-in-one on his first golf outing in 1994 on North Korea's only golf course.  Obviously, the game was too easy, and he subsequently retired after his lone golf round of 38 under-par.

Dear Leader was not only the greatest golfer in history, but he was also apparently the greatest defecator as his biography claims that he indeed did not relieve himself.  As is the case in golf, I suppose he gave that up since he was so successful upon his first try.  Dear Leader also can control the weather, invented the Hamburger, roller-bladed often, and wrote over 1,500 books in four years.

Dear Leader will be missed by many.  He often quit tasks that were too easy, or that he excelled in too much. But thankfully, he found hobbies that were more challenging (aka a hobby that he was the worst at). He spent most of his life working on these things that he was not proficient in, including being a Dictator and composing operas.  Despite his slight deficiencies, the opera world lost one of the greatest composers of our time - and certainly the least known opera composer since "The Abduction of Figaro" was discovered, written by the long lost and similarly talented composer P.D.Q. Bach.

Dear Leader's book, On the Art of Opera can be downloaded by clicking here.  Perhaps you are not ready to experience a glimpse of the divine, so I will spare you the pain and supply you with small quotes from his much beloved book, which I actually read.  I warn you not read too much, as His Central Brain's (that's a real title of his) glory will radiate your mind into a glorious yellow-cake weapons-grade uranium mush.
"Opera teaches a lot about people's life and struggle. That is why everyone likes opera."
I knew everyone had to like opera, but I didn't know why until now!
"Only opera art which champions the interests of the revolution and implements Party lines can be loved by the people"
I guess I was wrong; an opera about preserving "traditional marriage", capital punishment, and dissolving arts funding IS a good idea.
"For an opera to be popular, arias and recitatives must be replaced by popular songs and orchestral music"
As one blogger put it..."oh, like Mamma Mia"...that is an awesome opera!
"Dances must only be used in important scenes" Grease
"Art for art's sake is pointless"
...spoken like a true artist!
"Recitatives are difficult to sing and awkward to listen to"
 Maybe he was trying to sing the English translations in the Schirmer opera scores

 "The lyrics are the main element of a song. Songs can be good or bad, depending on their lyrics.  All the texts of songs must be written in rhyming verse"
Two hours of rhymes are never a bad thing!

"Opera is a musical art but the audience, when enjoying an opera, pays attention primarily to the sets and backdrops."

That's unfortunate...

Other phrases of a genius:
"Songs form the major component of opera"
"Composers must never seek harmony for harmony's sake." 
"There should be a theme song in an opera.  The theme song must be a masterpiece in terms of both words and music.  It must be perfect" 
"The opera singer has to sing while acting and act while singing."
"Some singers who portray such villainous characters as a landlord or policeman should perform exaggerated, superficial actions, instead of singing well."
So, goodbye Dear Leader.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that you certainly deserved nothing of what you gained.  Those of us in the opera world would like to thank you for your overwhelming gift of ridiculous prose and hope you see the same deserving fate of Don Giovanni.

Now on to a happier topic!

click here to see gifts (1-5)

6. Wagner's Ring Cycle Bracelet - Do you have trouble remembering the plot to Wagner's 15 hour-long opera cycle?  Well, now there's an easy way to follow along at  They offer bracelets that tell the plot of the opera through colored beads and charms for over twenty of your favorite operas.  And they come with a description card so you can remember all 94 plot elements (that's right, I counted all the different beads and charms) and follow along like a rosary within Wagner's cylce of Das RheingoldDie Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung.

7.  Look like Wotan or Brünnhilde in this Walküre (Valkyrie) knitted hat in the Met's gift shop.

8. Swarovski crystal opera glasses.  These teeny tiny opera glasses start at $300 and contain 1300 Swarovski crystals.

9. Nothing says "You're a pretentious opera nerd" like the operatic stylings of Michael Bublé.  And, nothing says "Merry Christmas" like "pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death". In his new Christmas Album, he places himself on the Mount Rushmore of horrible classical cross-over recordings, certainly not overshadowed by the beloved Susan Boyle, with one of the worst  performed versions of Schubert's Ave Maria.  And with its gloriously horrific diction, this would be a great gift to give to those opera geeks of whom you are annoyed with, want to be mean to, or want a free diction coaching from (as in their rage, they will surely dissect all of this song's atrocities - you'll be sounding like an ancient Roman in no time!).

10.  A bottle of wine. I know I was a little hard on #9, and if you actually give #9 as a gift, PLEASE give a bottle of wine to help with the anxiety.

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