« Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival opens with an effective 'La Boheme' | Main | A fantasy ride toward death in 'Linus and Alora' at Single Carrot Theatre »

June 29, 2011

Midweek Madness: The divine Mari Lyn warbles 'Summertime'

Welcome to a new feature that will appear (if I remember to keep up with it) on this ever-so-refined blog each Wednesday. I've called it Midweek Madness, an excuse to post some crazy little diversion for those (like me) who invariably need a chuckle halfway through the week.

I can think of no one more deserving to launch this venture than the divine Mari Lyn.

I will never forget the first time I heard this coloratura soprano, courtesy of a cable access channel in the New York area. My ears have never been the same -- or my eyes. What a fashion sense the dear woman had. What great wigs. And how smoothly she could turn the music pages.

A direct descendant (so to speak) of Florence Foster Jenkins, Mari Lyn had tremendous nerve, or an amazing lack of self-awareness. Either way, the music world is so much richer for her intrepid performances, accompanied by some of the most expressive players she could round up through the local musicians union.

Since I happened to launch Midweek Madness in the summertime, I couldn't resist posting her version of ...

"Summertime," which pretty much closes the book on interpretations of that Gershwin classic. Whatever you do, don't skip the second verse, when she jazzes things up, and the final cadenza -- it's to die (laughing) for.

So fasten your seat belts and hit the 'Play' button:

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:18 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness


Let me counter with the incomparable, the incomprehensible, Wenarto.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

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.
View the Artsmash blog

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
Famous faces in classical music
Sign up for FREE entertainment alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Most Recent Comments
Stay connected