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The career path of Alberto Gonzales provides perfect material for an opera in the tradition of George Frederick Handel. It has its earnest moments, flashes of heroism (involving Gonzales’s victims, of course, not the protagonist), and yet there is a steady undercurrent of opera buffa. I’d put it in the same genre as Radamisto, Handel’s rarely performed classic from 1720 dealing with a series of characters who appear at times heroic and then as tyrannical villains. Radamisto plays out during classical antiquity in Iberia of the east—that is, the space we know today as Georgia and Armenia. But its themes of political betrayal and regal double-dealing could just as easily be about life on the Potomac in 2006. As some of the modern stagers of Handel masterpieces have learned, the great composer creates works latent with such ambiguity that, while they were presented in his age as works of high drama, today they can easily be transformed into almost pure comedy. The Bush era is packed with this sort of tragicomic potential. Now the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reports that an operatic concert based on the Washington travails of Alberto Gonzales is being readied for performance in Philadelphia:
The Gonzales Cantata, playing at this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival, is a 40-minute choral work based on the hearings that punctuated the U.S. attorney-dismissal scandal back in 2007. (Actually, every word sung is from the transcript of the hearings.) Click here for WSJ reporter Evan Perez’s story on the hearings, which links to a whole trove of other goodies. (Scroll to the bottom of the post to watch a video clip of the Cantata. Other clips can be found through the show’s very cleverly designed Web site.)
The website is clever indeed—it’s a Drudge Report knock-off. And we learn that among the features is an aria with 71 variations on the theme “I don’t recall.” Here it is:
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”