What Happens In Las Vegas, Happens Everywhere!
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Gambling, drinking, and lust: Las Vegas Philharmonic ended its 2004-2005 season with musical works reflecting our city’s three core values..
On Town is a 1944 Broadway musical (and later a movie) whose songs were written by legendary American composer Leonard Bernstein. The Philharmonic opened with three dance tunes from this story of three sailors looking for action while on liberty in New York. Lively, jazzy, and stylish, songs perfectly embody vibrant energy of great city. On other hand, plot sounds like most bachelor parties right here in Vegas.
Poker, anyone? In 1936 Igor Stravinsky wrote Jeu de Cartes (“the card game”). In this beautifully orchestrated “ballet in three deals,” queens do a flirtatious dance and pompous joker makes recurring mischief before being ultimately defeated by a royal flush. As in Samuel Barber’s tone poem about Prometheus, music describes a scene and action, but while Stravinsky’s music makes for great listening, I often couldn’t tell queen from joker. Remind me to stay out of casinos around here.
Bejeezus: n. 1. a spirit of calm and safety existing within most humans and just waiting to be scared out.
If you’ve heard first part of Carmina Burana on classical radio stations or in movie soundtracks, you’ve probably also heard it replayed in your worst nightmares. “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi,” is apocalyptic opening that cries out, “Monstrous fate . . . you plot against me by trickery, so that my naked back is exposed to your lashes.” Imagine those words belted out in Latin by a chorus of almost one hundred people from Las Vegas Master Singers and Las Vegas Philharmonic Chorus, backed by orchestra with five booming tympani drums. When “Fortuna” ended, I was still too riveted to snicker at audience member who broke inter-movement silence by exclaiming, “Wow!”
It may not surprise you to learn that lyrics of Carl Orff’s 1936 masterwork are taken from poems written in a Bavarian monastery in Middle Ages. (The title means “Songs of Benediktbeuren.”) The twist is that poems — written mostly in Latin, with bits of Old German and Old French — are satirical and quite pagan, and they deal mostly with themes of gambling, drinking, and springtime lust. Some dreams are same all over.