Sunday, October 22, 2006

Again with the sad news

Manprano reports that Anna Russell has died at a ripe old age.

Like anyone, I've spent the odd quarter-hour painfully backed into an elm tree at an outdoor party by some opera queen who thinks it's funny to recreate the entire Ring lecture. Her stuff was just so inspired, it turned people into raging geekosaurs. It's like Monty Python, in a way--ludicrous and unique, so maybe it's no surprise that we sometimes have to live through the grown-up variant of those gangs of kids in high school that thought each singing of the Lumberjack Song is as fresh and hilarious as the first.

Not sure why I'm going on about the painful legacy of Anna Russell when the main thing is that her comedy, with its extremely particular demographic, has become part of our language. I have this feeling if you did a search on opera-l for the phrase "not making this up" smoke would start pouring out of your computer. And people quote it, endlessly, because at the point where Madame Russell says it in her Ring synopsis, it is the only reaction a rational being could have to the subject.

This is a sad passing in its own way--a different age is gone than died with Nilsson or Tebaldi. Try to imagine, if you will, anyone making a career of pointing out the humor in Art Music. These days, her great wit no bolster against the cruelty of time, the most she'd amount to is a blogger. There could be no Victor Borge today--and to him I tip my hat especially for titular reasons--and there could be no Anna Russell.

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