What You're Not Listening To

What You're Not Listening To


The Other Passion of RBG

September 27, 2020

Regardless of your political views, there was one unmistakable truth about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Opera was what she loved. #RBG #Opera #Classical

The world lost one of its best known and most loved members of the judiciary when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on the 18th of September this year. Among the many tributes were that of opera companies and performers. Ginsburg loved opera, and even studied music (piano and cello) in high school and college.

The late Ruth Bader Ginsberg in a cameo role in Fille du Régiment at the Washington National Opera, 2016. Photo by Scott Suchman/WNO.

Fate would cast very different direction for this woman from Brooklyn, New York. Through it all, she never stopped loving music, and often jumped at the opportunity to speak about her passion for it outside of the courtroom. This playlist, which will contain historical and performer notes in addition to the music, were selected from numerous interviews she gave about the subject.

Rest In power, Justice Ginsburg. I hope this show does you justice as well.

Puccini: Girl of the Golden West

Tracks: Un PokerLead: Franco Pomponi; Vocals (The Kentucky Opera) with piano accompaniment only, recorded live, 2014Language: Italian

This was Ginsburg’s favorite Puccini opera, stating that in his better known works, such as Madam Butterfly, the women do not fare well in them.

Image courtesy of the Kentucky Opera. Pomponi is center. 2014.

Synopsis: Possibly the first spaghetti western, this opera tells the story of a woman who owns a saloon, protects a keg of gold, preaches from the Bible and will do anything to protect her outlaw lover. It is set during the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800’s.

Composer: Considered the greatest Italian opera composer after Verdi, Puccini, from the Tuscany region of central Italy, was originally rooted in the 19th century Romantic movement but eventually became a star of the verismo movement, and it’s best known composer in that genre.

Performer: Franco Pomponi is one of the world’s leading baritones, and performs frequently at live venues large and small around the world, impressing critics with his mastery of Italian legato singing. Legato, for the uninitiated, is a term that describes amazing flow without breaks.

Verdi: Il Travatore

Track: Che più t’arresti, Tacea la notte, Di tale amorConducted by: Fausto Cleva, 1961Performer: Leontyne PriceLanuage: Italian

Though she has stated that Othello by Verdi is her favorite of his operas, Ginsburg often spoke about her favorite singer, Leontyne Price, witnessing her Metropolitan Opera House debut in 1961 as the character Lenore in Il Trovatore.

(l-r) Tenor Franco Corelli, soprano Leontyne Price and Opera General Manager Rudolf Bing backstage at Salzburg Festival, Austria, 1960. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera House.

Synopsis: Il Trovatore, which translates to “The Troubador”, is set in the environs of Zaragoza, the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon, and in the mountains of Biscay, around 1412. It is actually several different stories, and not one continuous piece.

Composer: Verdi, considered one of Italy’s greatest operatic composers, was born in Northern Italy. He worked tirelessly, and in his early days, composed 20 operas in just sixteen years. He didn’t become famous Rigoletto, in 1851. Among his other works are several based upon Shakespeare plays.

Performer: Price, originally from Laurel,


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