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take me out to the opera–an Operatoonity microtale

Babe Ruth, a legendary baseball player, not known for singing opera

Today, March 20, is the first day of spring, and many people in North America equate spring with baseball. In celebration of America’s favorite spring sport, I found a microtale about both opera and baseball. 

A group of American reporters once asked Caruso what he thought of Babe Ruth. Caruso, who was unfailingly polite and friendly, said that he didn’t know because unfortunately he had never heard her sing. 

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Hans Hotter sat on a wall and had a great . . .

Hans Hotter as Wotan

. . . fall.   

But it wasn’t exactly a wall from which Hans Hotter, the German bass-baritone renowned for singing Wotan, fell. It was an artificial mountaintop, and it occurred at the end of an ROH production of Die Walküre in 1961.  

As Wotan struck the rock with his spear, flashbulbs exploded to start the “magic fire.”  So far so good–until everyone in the house was temporarily blinded as a result of the explosion. This caused Hotter, who had turned to leave the stage, to miss his footing and plummet off the mountain, landing with a clatter. Because he wore stage armor, the mishap reportedly sounded something like, “a bomb hitting a corrugated iron factory.”  

Hotter didn’t want anyone unfamiliar with Die Walküre  to think that Wotan committed suicide at the end of the opera, à la Tosca, so he climbed back up the stage mountain, into position, his head suddenly appearing from the chasm into which it had disappeared, only to be followed by the rest of him.  

An Operatoonity microtale adapted from Great Operatic Disasters, 1979, St. Martin’s Griffin

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Filed under Opera and humor