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October 15, 2009

Center Stage celebrates the musical language of Oscar Wilde

For those of you craving a break from my musical ramblings, I thought I should, immodestly, direct you to my review in today's paper of "The Importance of Being Earnest," Center Stage's season-opener.

One of the production's many pleasures is simply the opportunity to revel in the language of Oscar Wilde, as melodious and witty as a Haydn symphony.

Speaking of Wilde and music, there is a musical of his comic masterpiece from 1960 titled "Earnest in Love." Maybe it's ripe for revival here. It was, apparently, a hit in a version produced four years ago in Japan, performed by an all-female cast (don't ask me why). Here's a taste of that staging, "A Handbag is Not a Proper Mother," sung by Lady Bracknell when she discovers that Mr. Worthing was "born or, at any rate, bred in a handbag;" and a duet for Jack and Algernon, during the muffin scene:

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:27 AM | | Comments (1)


I never thought of it before, but Wilde's work definitely lends itself to music, and I wouldn't mind seeing an American production of that musical.

Thanks for commenting. I must say I'm intrigued about that musical. Part of me thinks it couldn't possibly work -- interrupting the flow of Wilde's words -- but another part suspects it would still be kind of fun. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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