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"Regina" Marc Blitzstein "Prelude" City Opera / Cut Jazz Song Merged Carol Brice

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Published on Jul 27, 2010

This is the "Prelude" to Blitzstein's "Regina". It's one of two sections of the opera affected by the cutting of the 'jazz band' songs. Blitzstein, also the librettist (based on Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes"), didn't just cut the songs, he rewrote those sections. Howard Pollack of Houston U. tells me there are five different versions of "Regina", all with different cuts. For this post I took the great new release of the City Opera "Regina" with Brenda Lewis (she 'enters' near the end) and the incredible Carol Brice as Addie and edited in the jazz band song "Naught to Naught" from Mauceri's more complete Decca recording. The City Opera version is better in almost every way except for the cutting of the two songs. Lost also when it is cut is Blitzstein's very interesting portrait of the conflict in the black community between sacred and secular ('whorehouse') music. 'Jazz' was whorehouse slang for 'sex', so the conflict was real and still exists. "Regina" among other things is a great creative treatise on the history of American music. The original Broadway production included real jazz musicians (of some note); when Blitzstein offered them the chance to improvise if they liked, they told him they liked what he had written. Maria Callas came very close to singing "Regina" with Blitzstein's protege and lover Leonard Bernstein conducting. A pity she didn't, great role for her. She could not have been a lot better than Brenda Lewis. The new issue, available only through mail order I believe, is very worthwhile. I claim no rights to this material, I am merely the creator of a play on Blitzstein, "Blitzstein Strikes Back"...but I do hope this serves as an ad for the new issue and for new productions of the work restoring the jazz where it belongs. This should be a staple of American Opera houses.

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