Best thing I’ve seen all day. Flash Chorus!

Not to overly spoil the surprise, but the following video depicts a random group of people bursting into “Va Pensiero” at a mall.  Well-worth watching.

Couldn’t stop smiling. Who knew there were flash choruses?  I NEED to participate in one ASAP.

In other news, this is the article from which I got the video.  Apparently “Va Pensiero” only became a rallying cry for Italian unification some years after its publication, contrary to common lore.

The image of Verdi as a “revolutionary” composer . . .  became standard in the early 20th century; it was encouraged during the Fascist years (the state-sponsored 1941 Verdi celebrations were a high point), and was sustained post-war by a continuing adherence to the “heroic” aspects of Italian nationalism.

In spite of all this latter-day boosting, there is, alas, no evidence that the chorus excited patriotic fervour in its early years (a often-repeated tale about it being encored on opening night by enflamed patriots is a blatant invention).

Happy Friday the 13th, or, RIP Rossini!

It’s pretty late right now, and I’m up blogging because I made the mistake of falling into a Wikipedia black hole right before bed.  At some point, I realized that tomorrow (today, really) is Friday the 13th and I got to wondering why Friday the 13th is considered bad luck.

Well, that led me to Wikipedia (duh), where I learned that the first known reference in the English language to Friday the 13th as an ill-omened day ties it to the death of none other than the opera composer-turned-chef, Gioachino Rossini (of Barber of Seville and William Tell fame).  The biographer Henry Sutherland Edwards described Rossini’s death thusly:

He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that one Friday 13th of November he died.[4]

So, it turns out that Friday the 13th is unlucky because a great composer departed this world.  But then again, as Rossini was a mere mortal, he had to go sometime . . . The death dates of all great men and women can’t be inauspicious, after all.

Anyway, enough of my rambling, it’s time for bed.  Tomorrow, make sure to pour out some vino in memoriam of Rossini.  Maybe blare a round of “Figaro” from your speakers.

Update: I realized some of you may not be familiar with Rossini, at least not by name. Here’s one of the arias that made him famous:


PS) For those of you who didn’t know this, Rossini retired from composing and became a chef.  Many Italian dishes were named after him, including Tournedos Rossini (pictured below)


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