Michael Bodkin, who partly inspired the ending of Joyce's "The Dead," lies in Rahoon Cemetery, in Galway. He died on Feb. 11, 1900, at the age of twenty. Michael Feeney, another doomed young admirer of Nora Barnacle, Joyce's future wife, is nearby. In the story, though, Michael Furey is buried in the cemetery at Oughterard, some thirty kilometers northwest of the city. Joyce bicycled out there during his last visit to Ireland, in 1912. "It is exactly as I imagined it," he wrote to his brother, "and one of the headstones was to J. Joyce."
July 27, 2012 | Permalink
July 24, 2012 | Permalink
At the end of the "Eumaeus" chapter of Ulysses, in the company of Leopold Bloom, the learned young Stephen Dedalus sings snatches of a four-part song by Johannes Jeep (1582/83-1644), entitled "Dulcia dum loquitur cogitat insidias," or "Von der Sirenen Listigkeit," from the collection Studentengärtlein. A translation from Don Gifford's Ulysses Annotated:
From the Sirens' craftiness
Poets make poems
That they with their loveliness
Have drawn many men into the sea
For their song resounds so sweetly,
That the sailors fall asleep,
The ship is brought into misfortune,
And all becomes evil.
Stephen, in an advanced state of inebriation, loses the words a bit and comes up with the mangled line "Und alle Schiffe brücken" — something like "And all ships are bridged/broken." Any Joyceans wishing to sing the complete four-part song next Bloomsday can find a score in modern notation in Vol. 29 of Das Erbe deutscher Musik.
Presumably Joyce came across Jeep's music in Zurich. In 1939, he sent a note to Georg Goyert, his German translator, enclosing an encyclopedia entry about the composer. "Er hat tatsächlich existiert," Joyce remarked — "He actually existed."
July 20, 2012 | Permalink
The New York Times reports on the dress rehearsal for Siegfried at the Paris Opera, Jan. 1, 1902. Jean de Reszke, widely considered the greatest tenor of his time, sang the title role. You can get a very faint idea of what de Reszke sounded like from Mapleson cylinders — primitive evidence of live performances at the Met in 1901. The tenor did make two recordings for Fonotipia in 1905, after he had retired from the stage, but he was apparently dissatisfied with the results, and the records subsequently disappeared.
July 20, 2012 | Permalink
The Letters of James Joyce, as edited by Richard Ellmann, reveal that the writer took a fancy to Rimsky-Korsakov's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, which played several times in Paris in the nineteen-twenties and thirties. Joyce writes to his son and daughter-in-law in 1935: “I went to hear Rimsky’s Kittege again at the Opéra Comique with Zaporoyetz as Prince Yuri. Che splendore di voce. Ampia, estesa, facile e maestosa [What splendor of voice. Ample, outstretched, unstrained, and majestic] ... His part lasts about 10 minutes. But it is majestically beautiful, better than 6 years ago.” Above is Capiton Zaporojetz singing Mussorgsky's "Song of the Flea" — one of two Zaporojetz recordings I found on the Internet. The 1929 performances to which Joyce refers — and which he evidently also attended — came by way of Maria Kuznetsova and Alfred Massenet's Opéra Privé de Paris. (The great Kuznetsova originated the role of the maiden Fevroniya.) Here is Boris Christoff singing Prince Yuri's aria — "O glory, vain wealth! ... Kitezh, Kitezh! Where is your glory?"
I will give a talk on Wagner and Joyce at the Galway Arts Festival on July 28.
July 19, 2012 | Permalink