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A Comedic Double Header By Chabrier And Rossini

It's an odd fact of human nature that we often cloak the most sensitive subjects in seemingly innocuous terms -- sometimes two or three layers deep.

Take "the birds and the bees," for example. It's a seemingly innocent euphemism for "the facts of life" which, of course, is also a euphemism. Both are used to approach one of the most sensitive topics of all: that certain subject that arises when kids start asking ticklish questions.

It's a conversation few parents relish. Still, it's better to have that little talk than not -- which is demonstrated with insight and charm by one of this week's featured operas, a one-act comedy written in 1879 by Emmanuel Chabrier. It tells the story of a starry-eyed pair of newlyweds who arrive at home on their wedding night with, as the opera's title puts it, Une éducation manquée -- An Insufficient Education. You can probably guess what that means; it seems this couple's parents never bothered with that chat about the birds and the bees.

Following Chabrier's charmer, this double bill of contrasting comedies features a romantic farce from about 70 years earlier: Gioachino Rossini's Il Cambiale di Matrimonio, or The Marriage Contract. It was the composer's first professional opera, written when he was still a teenager, yet it plainly anticipates the brilliance of his mature, comic style. Some of its music was recycled in later operas including The Turk in Italy and even The Barber of Seville, one of the greatest operatic comedies of all time.

On World of Opera, host Lisa Simeone brings us both operas from a venue that's new to the program, the Wexford Opera Festival in Ireland. The stars include sopranos Kishani Jayasinghe and Pervin Chakar, along with mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy and tenor Giovanni Botta.

See the previous edition of World of Opera or view the full archive.

Copyright 2010 WDAV

Bruce Scott
Bruce Scott is supervising producer of World of Opera. He also produces NPR's long-running, annual special Chanukah Lights, with Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz.