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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.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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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.”