baltimoresun.com

February 20, 2013

Midweek Madness feels the pain of cold-sufferers

Having succumbed at long last to a winter cold, I felt I would dedicate this Midweek Madness installment to my fellow sufferers. I suggest we all sing through our pain, with the help of Betty Boop and that profound ditty "I Got a Cold in My Nose." (Her performance makes me want to dig out "Funny Lady" again to hear Streisand's fun version.)

Grab a Kleenex and chime in:


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:14 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

February 13, 2013

Midweek Madness just can't get 'Downton Abbey' out of the mind

With the season finale of "Downton Abbey" approaching on Sunday, I couldn't resist devoting one more Midweek Madness entry to the show -- the perfect addition to your paper doll collection:

 


 

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

February 6, 2013

Midweek Madness peers into 'Uptown Downstairs Abbey'

OK, I admit it. While the rest of the civilized world was glued to the Super Bowl, the TV in our house was emanating the glow of period drama -- the irresistible "Downton Abbey" on PBS. (I still think the Most Valuable Player Sunday night was Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper who managed to tackle sexism, anti-Catholicism and smug-ism all in one fabulous game.)

For the benefit of those who have not yet caught onto the Downton phenomenon -- and even more for the benefit of those who have -- Midweek Madness offers this unique introduction/recap/documentary:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness peers into 'Uptown Downstairs Abbey'" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

January 30, 2013

Midweek Madness has no choice but to join the Ravens madness

Sorry, Midweek Madness fans, if you thought you could escape the all-Ravens-all-the-time atmosphere these days by clicking your way here.

How could I possibly ignore this fever (try as I might)? Not with reminders like this one, put together by Douglas Buchanan, a bass in the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and choirmaster of Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

He managed to combine Ravens mania with Anglican choral traditions to produce what has to be the most offbeat entry yet in the ever-rising clamor of local pride. So here, recorded in lovely Old St. Paul's, is Buchanan's "Ravenlican Chant," a devout work in three sections: Preambule, Rules of Overtime and Ravens' Fight Song.

If this doesn't clinch the Super Bowl, I don't know what will:


Posted by Tim Smith at 8:21 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

January 16, 2013

A bit of stirring, if inarticulate, Beethoven for your Midweek Madness treat

The European Union has been in the news lately, especially with regard to the UK's continued participation, so I thought I would use this Midweek Madness installment to remind everyone of the joy of brotherhood.

The Union happens to have an anthem that derives from the much-loved finale to Beethoven's noble, stirring Ninth Symphony, with its message of, well, the joy of brotherhood.

How better, then, to underline the advantage of the UK remaining in the harmonious association of nations than a performance of that anthem by the eminent British baritone "Robert Bennington," even if he has a wee bit of trouble with the words:

Continue reading "A bit of stirring, if inarticulate, Beethoven for your Midweek Madness treat" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

January 9, 2013

For Midweek Madness, a refresher on how not to conduct an interview

Failures to communicate are everywhere. You've no doubt heard radio or TV interviews, for example, where the interviewer seems to be preoccupied with preparing the next question, or following a script, that he/she doesn't actually hear the interviewee's answer to the one just asked.

As a public service, I devote this Midweek Madness installment to ...

Continue reading "For Midweek Madness, a refresher on how not to conduct an interview" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:07 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

January 2, 2013

As 'Downton Abbey' returns, a refresher on British social/gender etiquette

With "Downton Abbey" about to start Season 3 on these shores this weekend, taking us once more into the rarefied world of British society and grand meals around elegantly appointed tables, your ever-thoughtful Midweek Madness featurette would like to offer this quick refresher on the rules of social etiquette, especially those pertaining to the gentler sex.

As you know, the women in "Downton Abbey" sometimes forget their place, which can have devastating consequences for them. Seeing this on the telly might inspire women on this side of The Pond to pursue a similar, dangerous course.

The instructional video you are about to see reminds us all of the proper ways of society, so that we may be fully prepared if we ever get a coveted dinner invitation from true British gentry:

Continue reading "As 'Downton Abbey' returns, a refresher on British social/gender etiquette" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

December 26, 2012

Midweek Madness keeps that special holiday feeling flowing

For your Midweek Madness drollery, I have -- yes -- once again gone to the SCTV well, this time to pull up a holiday-theme gem. You may thank me later.

Here's the attempted filming of promo for a 'Liberace' Christmas Special with a very temperamental 'Orson Welles' as guest star:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness keeps that special holiday feeling flowing" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

December 19, 2012

For Midweek Madness, one more chorus of 'Feliz Navidad,' Bette Davis-style

Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy Christmas song.

Yes, you adorable Midweek Madness fans, I could not resist an encore of "Feliz Navidad," as the Yuletide approaches. And not just any "Feliz Navidad," mind you, but an interpretation to end all interpretations of this endless, annoying song.

This goes especially well with a martini:

Continue reading "For Midweek Madness, one more chorus of 'Feliz Navidad,' Bette Davis-style" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

December 12, 2012

Midweek Madness feels the need for a little Christmas now

Yes, I know it's way past midday on Midweek Madness day as I post this. So sue me. I had stuff to do. Big, important stuff. And at least two boxes of bonbons to get through.

To lift your spirits, how about a little Christmas now? Oy, could we all use a little Christmas now.

I probably shouldn't have picked sharing this clip, since it really isn't quite awful enough to be thoroughly laughable -- well, maybe it is, at that -- and because I really do love Lucy (Ricardo more than Ball, if truth be told).

This is the "We Need a Little Christmas" scene from "Mame," the film version of the Jerry Herman musical that was based on the book, play and film "Auntie Mame." Now everyone knows that the "Auntie Mame" film is a masterpiece that cannot be bettered, thanks to the divine Rosalind Russell, but the musical does have its points.

Still, if you're going to do a movie of the musical, shouldn't you at least cast it with a star who can sing? Lucy gives it her all, I suppose. And, every now and then, she does ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness feels the need for a little Christmas now" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 2:16 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

December 5, 2012

For Midweek Madness, a critical look at a bold new 'women's play'

I thought something theatrical would be nice for Midweek Madness this time, especially since I thought of a clip that involves one of my jobs -- theater critic.

Here is the erudite, superbly named reviewer Bill Needle going after a new "women's play" written by and starring Libby Wolfson, the host of a fabulous SCTV chat show called "You" (which is really about her).

The title of the play is truly inspired, you have to admit: "I'm Taking My Own Head, Screwing It on Right, and No Guy's Gonna Tell Me That It Ain't!" And the production? Clearly, no expense was spared for this wonderful premiere at a classy dinner theater.

In my professional experience, I can honestly say that I have never seen any theatrical experience to equal this one (and don't miss the ad at the end for Libby's next episode of "You"):

Continue reading "For Midweek Madness, a critical look at a bold new 'women's play'" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

November 28, 2012

For Midweek Madness, a swingin' salute to Ethel Ennis on her 80th

One of the finest jazz singers of our time, Baltimore's own Ethel Ennis, celebrates her 80th birthday today, Nov. 28, which just happens to be -- sorry, Ms. Ennis -- Midweek Madness day here on this world-famous, heavily-envied blog.

How could I possibly combine these two events, you ask, with halted breath? Easy, thanks to Scopitone, the curio from the '60s that foreshadowed the music video explosion a few decades later.

So, to celebrate this wonderful milestone for a great artist, and also just to have some fun, here is Ethel Ennis singing fabulously amid some not so fabulous, but hilarious, scenic design and, especially, choreography. I've got a feeling you won't be able to take you eyes off of this:

Continue reading "For Midweek Madness, a swingin' salute to Ethel Ennis on her 80th" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

November 21, 2012

For Midweek Madness, a cup that runneth over, way over

It's Midweek Madness day, as well as the day before Thanksgiving, which has me thinking of all those bountiful feasts soon to be devoured. And that leads me to a song just perfect for the occasion -- "My Cup Runneth Over With Love."

I have found a fabulous interpretation from 1967 that also runneth over with ...

Continue reading "For Midweek Madness, a cup that runneth over, way over" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

November 14, 2012

For Midweek Madness, Daltrey, Townshend, The Who, a worthy charity, and Streisand video

Excuse the shameless name-dropping, but I had lunch this week with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

OK, a whole bunch of other members of the National Press Club and their guests did, too. But, hey, I was at the head table, so there.

The main reason why the surviving original members of The Who stopped by the club the day before their Washington concert was to discuss a charity they are heavily and admirably involved in -- Teen Cancer America. (You can watch the whole thing, thanks to C-Span.) 

The project is based on a successful program Daltrey and Townshend support in the UK, Teen Cancer Trust, which helps provide dedicated spaces for teen cancer patients in hospitals. This allows teens to be grouped together in their own area, complete with common kitchens.

As Daltrey, sporting a terrific Victorian-influenced outfit, explained at the luncheon, teens "don't want teddy bears, and they don't want to be with adults." Being a teen is difficult enough; being a teen with a major illness adds extra layers of stress.

Daltrey said that a soon-to-be-released study in the UK will report ...

Continue reading "For Midweek Madness, Daltrey, Townshend, The Who, a worthy charity, and Streisand video" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

November 7, 2012

Midweek Madness: A derailment at the opera

Last weekend, Lyric Opera Baltimore's season-opener was Puccini's "La Boheme." With that delicious music still in my head, I figured there just might be a way to work it into the next installment of Midweek Madness.

That's just what I have done, thanks to a clip from a night at the Zurich Opera House when an ever so light derailment occurred during the tenor aria "Che gelida manina."

Before I get to that, let me hasten to add that the Baltimore production did not make me think disaster; it was a perfectly respectable venture. There were a few slips at the performance I attended, but nothing close to the one you are about to hear.

Remember that many a tenor tackling "Boheme" asks to transpose the aria down to avoid the high C required, and that means the whole orchestra has to transpose with him. I have a funny feeling somebody forgot during this memorable performance in Zurich. Brace yourself:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A derailment at the opera" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 5:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

October 31, 2012

Midweek Madness: Something scary in 3-D for Halloween

OK, brace yourself. It's Halloween, and Midweek Madness wants to scare the heck out of you.

How about some scenes from the 3-D classic, "Dr. Tongue's Evil House of Pancakes"? Even the title has me quaking:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Something scary in 3-D for Halloween" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 1:13 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

October 24, 2012

Midweek Madness: Cheeky Chico

I don't know about you, but I really, really, really need some levity this midweek point. So how about some pianistic diversion from that master of digital insouciance, Chico Marx?

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Cheeky Chico" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:08 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

October 17, 2012

Midweek Madness: Another testy political debate

I realize some of you may have had enough of debates between testy candidates, or arguments afterward over the effectiveness of the moderator. Well, it could be a lot worse.

For your Midweek Madness diversion, here's the classic SCTV debate during a city council campaign in Mellonville, where the newsman serving as moderator was ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Another testy political debate" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Midweek Madness
        

October 10, 2012

Midweek Madness: Rare bubblegum, funk from Barbra Streisand

This week's tantalizing event for Barbra Streisand fans -- of which there are none more devoted than moi -- is the just-out "Release Me," a collection of decades-old tracks that never saw the light of an album.

I will have much more to say about this fascinating CD later -- OK, I have to say right now that it would be worth having if only for "Willow Weep For Me," "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" and the "Finian's Ranbow"/"Brigadoon" medley.

But, this being Midweek Madness day, and what with Fab Babs firmly on my mind, I could not resist sharing a couple of really off-beat mementos of her musical past.

From her mercifully brief bubblegum period, a single released in 1968: "Our Corner of the Night."

This sounds like something left over from a Petula Clark or Leslie Gore session. Yes, it is kind of awful, but, hey, it's Streisand, so I have a strange affection for it.

Then, how about some get-down-and-get-funky Barbra from the '70s? Lawdy, this excerpt from a recording session leaves me simply speechless.

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Rare bubblegum, funk from Barbra Streisand " »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

October 3, 2012

Midweek Madness: A pre-'Glee' reminder of how to sing harmony

OK, so I admit I have been catching this season's "Glee," if not exactly gleefully. I mean, enough with Britney already. And all those constantly changing affections.

I still like a lot of the musical performances, though, even if most of the songs end up being it's-all-about-me showpieces for a few chosen characters. "Glee" is only occasionally interested in traditional glee club singing, with tight harmonies and all that. More's the pity.

The other day, thanks to Turner Classic Movies, the only truly reliable and consistently rewarding channel in all of cable-dom, I caught a vintage clip of the Mills Brothers and felt instantly better. Now that's harmony -- and imagination and style and just plain magic. And they never needed more than a guitar for accompaniment. Cool.

For this Midweek Madness installment, here's a little dose of the Mills Brothers, which ought to help the rest of the week go down a whole lot smoother:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A pre-'Glee' reminder of how to sing harmony" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

September 26, 2012

Midweek Madness: Some Gershwin to enjoy while you're bidin' your time

Since it happens to be George Gershwin's 114th birthday, and since I have been bidin' my time, hopin' for inspiration to feed you pathetic need for another dose of Midweek Madness, I figured, what the hey -- why not Gershwin?

Everything about the number "Bidin' My Time" from the movie version of "Girl Grazy" is perfection -- words, music, Judy Garland's delicious phrasing and facial expressions, her equally engaging cowhand companions, the subtle arrangement, the droll choreography.

Makes me smile every time. I hope it does the same for you:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Some Gershwin to enjoy while you're bidin' your time" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

September 19, 2012

Midweek Madness: Honkin' with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

It takes too long between each "Madmen" series to get a good '60s fix, so, as a public service, Midweek Madness presents a blast from that fabled era to tide you over.

Yes, I'm talking about Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, the quintessential (non-rock) '60s phenomenon. And this version of the giga-hit "Tijuana Taxi" -- well, it's beyond words.

Such choreography, such costumes, such camera angles, such inanity. Just try not to tap your toes, honk your horn, or wiggle your tush:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Honkin' with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 5:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

September 12, 2012

Midweek Madness: A feline examination of life's meaning, or lack of same

If it's Wednesday, it must be Midweek Madness time. I thought you could handle some animal magnetism this time, so meet Henri, who gives new meaning to the concept of existential:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A feline examination of life's meaning, or lack of same " »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Midweek Madness
        

September 5, 2012

Midweek Madness: A cetennial salute to John Cage

He was an amazing creative artist who taught the world that music is not defined by dots and bar lines on a page, or restrained by conventions of time and structure. Ironic, then, that his name was John Cage.

Nothing caged about this man, born 100 years ago on Sept. 5, 1912. He was the ultimate free thinker, the ultimate opener of doors and minds, the ultimate American maverick.

But Cage had quite a sense of fun, too, so I don't think he would mind being used for this installment of Midweek Madness. And what could be madder -- or more endearing -- than Cage's 1960 appearance on the TV game show, "I've Got a Secret"?

It's really something to see him politely putting up with host Gary Moore's skepticism and then, to nervous laughter from the audience, delivering a hearty performance of ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A cetennial salute to John Cage " »

Posted by Tim Smith at 5:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

August 29, 2012

Midweek Madness: A light-hearted moment with Van Cliburn

This week's news about Van Cliburn -- recently diagnosed with advanced bone cancer -- is very disturbing. It's a tough blow to this remarkable artist, a bona fide American icon, a classic gentleman, and a very funny guy to boot.

As we all send our best wishes, I thought it would be OK to devote this installment of Midweek Madness to enjoying the pianist's lighter side -- his appearance on ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A light-hearted moment with Van Cliburn " »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

August 22, 2012

Midweek Madness: Thinking about buying an organ from Tex and Edna Boil

This commercial, which I just had to share for the latest installment of Midweek Madness, has me thinking hard about making a big, big purchase from the ultimate suppliers of keyboard instruments down on Route 29, Tex and Edna Boil:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Thinking about buying an organ from Tex and Edna Boil" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:05 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

August 15, 2012

Midweek Madness: Splittsville in the country

Yesterday was all about a marriage -- a happy, long-lasting one at that. Well, enough of the sentiment; on with the silliness. Let's hear about an unhappy union today, as only a great country singer could describe it.

For your Midweek Madness pleasure, folks, here's that great hit song "S.P.L.I.T.," about a relationship that just didn't work out, and the difficult effort to ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Splittsville in the country" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

August 1, 2012

Midweek Madness: A lesser known Olympic event

Despite a trillion dollars in round-the-clock TV coverage by 750,000 journalists (and at least three times that many Twitterers), there's one event at the Olympics that you probably missed.

Thanks to SCTV, and to provide an appropriate amount of Midweek Madness, here is an eggs-traordinary match-up of competitors from the US and the UK in a fiercely challenging race:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A lesser known Olympic event" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Midweek Madness
        

July 25, 2012

Midweek Madness: A swingin' summery song from (the original) January Jones

Since the whole country seems to be havin' a heat wave, a tropical heat wave this summer, I figured we could all use a beachy number for Midweek Madness. So here's the beachiest -- and bounciest -- I could find.

Let's have a great big welcome for the oh-so-talented January Jones (no, not that one), her bustin'-out calendar pinup girls and ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A swingin' summery song from (the original) January Jones " »

Posted by Tim Smith at 5:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

July 18, 2012

Midweek Madness: Staying in a 'Mikado' mood

A charming Baltimore custom for more than four decades is the annual summer presentation of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta by Young Victorian Theatre Company. This year it's "The Mikado," which I think we can all agree is the greatest of the G&S creations -- OK, maybe not all can agree, but close.

The score is so packed with infectious tunes that I've had two or three bouncing around my head at the same time ever since Saturday night's opening night. So I figured I might as well share one of them for this Midweek Madness installment, especially since ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Staying in a 'Mikado' mood " »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Midweek Madness
        

July 11, 2012

Midweek Madness: Sliding with Yvette

Honest, I have nothing against the accordion. And I think it's great that the American Accordionists' Association is holding its annual festival and competition this week right here in dear old Baltimore.

I am, however, one of those unfortunate souls ever so old enough to recall the days when the instrument wasn't taken too seriously, thanks largely to some pretty tacky accordionists, so it took me a while to view the accordion in a better light.

I love the fact that the accordion is now getting more respect and more exposure, in a wide variety of musical genres and performed by serious musicians of all ages. Turns out it's really cool after all.

That said, I couldn't resist sharing a ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Sliding with Yvette" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

July 4, 2012

Midweek Madness: Yankee Doodle marching to a different beat

Wednesday being a great big holiday, we don't really need the diversion of Midweek Madness, but what the heck?

Here, to get you into the swing of Independence Day is a burst of Stan Freberg, from his ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Yankee Doodle marching to a different beat" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

June 27, 2012

Midweek Madness: You gotta have a gimmick

As they sing in "Gypsy," "get yourself a gimmick and you, too, can be a star."

Here, for your Midweek Madness diversion, is a soprano who found her gimmick in ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: You gotta have a gimmick" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:46 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

June 20, 2012

MIdweek Madness: A little something stupid, insipid and possibly insane

OK, Midweek Madness fans -- you ain't seen nothing yet.

I am almost sorry to unleash this one on you, because it could make your day feel quite unbalanced, and lead to some very disturbing dreams at night.

As you know, the illustrious Frank Sinatra occasionally slipped a little in the choice of musical material. One of his aesthetic plunges was ...

Continue reading "MIdweek Madness: A little something stupid, insipid and possibly insane" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:49 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

June 13, 2012

Midweek Madness: The glittering Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth's delectable concert here in Baltimore over the weekend still has me in an upbeat mood (well, as upbeat as I ever get these days), so I figured another dose of her charm would be worth seeking and sharing with my peeps.

In keeping with the spirit of Midweek Madness, I decided that the ideal Chenoweth dosage would have to be the ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: The glittering Kristin Chenoweth" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:47 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

June 6, 2012

Midweek Madness: Liberace, Dusty Springfield, Phyllis Diller and glamor (?)

Watch "Mad Men" and you might think the '60s were totally, consistently cool. Think again.

I offer this case in point for your Midweek Madness diversion -- a big production number from '60s TV that would have had Don Draper rushing for the channel knob.

Here are Liberace, Phyllis Diller, Dusty Springfield and Millicent Martin (whoever she was), trying to celebrating vintage glamor. If you can, hold on until the end, if only to see how Liberace gets to be the center of attention:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Liberace, Dusty Springfield, Phyllis Diller and glamor (?)" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 5:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

October 26, 2011

Midweek Madness: The letter-reading passage from 'La Traviata'

As you know by now, Lyric Opera Baltimore is getting ready for its first bow -- a production of Verdi's "La traviata" Nov. 4 and 6. If all goes well, the new company will fill the void left when the Baltimore Opera Company went bust in 2009.

In order to make sure that you get the maximum out of this "Traviata,"  I thought it would be useful to go over a particularly crucial scene  -- the reading of the letter by the oh-so-tragic character of Violetta in Act 2. I found the ultimate explanation and delivery of said letter-reading and ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: The letter-reading passage from 'La Traviata'" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness, Opera
        

September 21, 2011

Midweek Madness: A 'Glee'-triggered memory of Streisand, Harold Arlen

The season-opener of "Glee" sure had its peaks last night, not to mention some lows (could we please drop those damn slush-in-the-face scenes?).

One of the musical high points offered yet more proof, as if any were needed, that some serious Streisand fanatics are involved with that show. Last season, a stunning Barbra-Judy duet was re-created for Rachel and Kurt. On Tuesday's show, those irrepressible Glee-fuls tackled ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A 'Glee'-triggered memory of Streisand, Harold Arlen" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 12:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Midweek Madness
        

September 14, 2011

Midweek Madness: An operetta number from Ethel Mertz

And now, to relieve the midweek strain, a little number from the immortal operetta "The Pleasant Peasant," composed by that remarkable duo of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz.

Here's Ethel singing the indelible Act 1 aria, "I Am Lily of the Valley," in a gala production by the Tuesday Afternoon Fine Arts League in New York. She not only offers uncommon vocal polish and intensely expressive phrasing, but also superb acting -- note, especially, how, with the subtlest of gestures, she indicates "the valley over there."

This is clearly the work of a true artist of the stage:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: An operetta number from Ethel Mertz" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 5:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

August 3, 2011

Midweek Madness: Benny, Carmen and a wild ride through 'Paducah'

A little blast of perpetually tropical Carmen Miranda seems appropriate for Midweek Madness during this ever so hot summer, even if, in this case, she's singing and wriggling to a tune about Paducha, Kentucky.

This is a great, only-in-Hollywood moment from the 1943 musical "The Gang's All Here." It starts off with a bit of a Chopin Nocturne, of all things, before segueing into the smoothly swinging Benny Goodman, and then the divine Carmen. (I always marvel at how Carmen ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Benny, Carmen and a wild ride through 'Paducah'" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

July 20, 2011

Midweek Madness: The ultimate performance of a Chopin "Share-zoe"

After some thrilling and/or chilling vocals during the first weeks of Midweek Madness, my humble little blog feature that has already become a global sensation of such proportions that only the Murdoch scandal is keeping it from being covered by major press outlets, I thought it was time for a little change.

So here is a pianistic oldie-but-goodie from the talent portion of the 2000 Miss Texas Pageant. Even if you have thrilled to this audio before, you will surely want to relive the experience of hearing Cindy Elizondo, bless her heart, delivering an incomparable performance of Chopin's B minor Scherzo -- or as they say down Texas way, "Share-zoe."

Now I know what some of you are thinking, that I am being terribly insensitive and unkind and unfair. Well, I can't help it. Like Dame Edna, I was given a precious gift -- the ability to laugh at the misfortunes of others.

So fasten your seat belts. It's "Share-zoe" Time:

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: The ultimate performance of a Chopin "Share-zoe" " »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

July 13, 2011

Midweek Madness: Dusty Springfield sings refrain from Wagner's 'Tannhauser'

I've always had a soft spot for Dusty Springfield. She had such a distinctive voice, with a tinge of melancholy to it, and she could phrase a ballad with the best of them.

Not that you asked -- heck, you never need to ask; I just give and give, because I am naturally so giving -- my favorite Dusty recording was "Windmills of Your Mind," a version that I still hold in high esteem, even though I have now heard Barbra's superb interpretation from her soon-to-be-released album.

Truth be told, I never became a big Dusty fan, to the point of collecting her records. I just enjoyed hearing her when the opportunity arose. But I live with a major Dusty devotee, and Robert routinely breaks out her recordings, enabling me to appreciate much more of her oeuvre over the years.

I still recall the shock when, on one of Robert's Dusty days, he slipped into the player a little-known record of a song called "Don't Speak of Love." The first bars sounded like generic vintage pop, and I almost tuned it out when, holy cow, the refrain hit -- and I heard nothing less than the big tune of the Pilgrim's Chorus from Wagner's "Tannhauser," complete with ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: Dusty Springfield sings refrain from Wagner's 'Tannhauser'" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

July 6, 2011

Midweek Madness: A refresher course on the alphabet from The Three Stooges

For my next jolt of Midweek Madness (the irresistible new feature of this rarefied blog), I couldn't resist a little remedial education, courtesy of The Three Stooges.

If you know anyone stuck in summer school (do they still have summer school?), this refresher might be particularly useful.

Or, for those of a certain age, it's an opportunity to learn an alternative to "The Name Game" (you know, "banana-fana-fo-fana" -- what were they thinking in the '60s?).

Then again, maybe, like me, you just need a few minutes of mindless entertainment to get through the day. So here are the professorial Stooges providing a unique guide to learning the alphabet (remember to sit down first):

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: A refresher course on the alphabet from The Three Stooges" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:09 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        

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 ...

Continue reading "Midweek Madness: The divine Mari Lyn warbles 'Summertime'" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:18 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Midweek Madness
        
Keep reading
Recent entries
Archives
Categories
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 baltimoresun.com/artsmash. 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
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
PHOTO GALLERY
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 baltimoresun.com'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