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Storms And Salvation: 'The Flying Dutchman'

Nov 8, 2011

Love him or hate him, Richard Wagner has a reputation as the composer of immense, four-hour-plus dramas rooted in confusing stories and drawn from obscure mythology.

When William Bolcom's opera A View from the Bridge premiered in Chicago in 1999, one critic described it as "Brooklyn verismo," invoking the emotive style popularized by Italian composers such as Puccini. And that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

It's a story that would seem excessive for even the most lurid of "real life" dramas, or blood-soaked slasher movies. But it's always been right at home in the opera house — Richard Strauss' intense, one-act opera, Elektra.

It's easy to wonder whether actual events in the lives of great composers are directly reflected in their music. Sometimes people even argue about it. But in the case of personal tragedies early in Giuseppe Verdi's life, the case seems like a slam dunk.

When we think of opera's biggest stars and greatest hits, we tend to think of solo arias. But that overlooks another operatic goldmine: duets.

Over the years, there have been plenty of classic duet collaborations, resulting in legendary recordings and performances. Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti come to mind, singing the "Cherry Duet" from Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz. Going back a little further, there's Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill with "Au fond du temple saint," the famous duet from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.

T-Bone Burnett On World Cafe

Oct 31, 2011

Legendary singer-songwriter and folk-rock pioneer T-Bone Burnett is known for his captivating solo material, but also for his role as a legendary producer of records by everyone from Roy Orbison to actor Jeff Bridges. In a new interview on World Cafe, Burnett sits down with host David Dye to reflect on some of his most famous projects.

World Cafe Looks Back: Jam-Boree

Oct 27, 2011

Throughout the month of October, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of World Cafe and revisted some of the best and most memorable interviews of the past 20 years.

Chuck Brown On World Cafe

Feb 3, 2011

Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go music, died in 2012. A year earlier, he'd stopped by World Cafe to discuss his 50-plus-year career and his last album.

Making The Perfect Exit

Mar 20, 2009

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We called up two more people to talk a little bit about endings. First, Curtis Sittenfeld. She wrote the novel "American Wife." And get this. Our show, Day to Day, pops up on page 490.

(Soundbite of interview)

German Left Courts the Working Class

Apr 23, 2008

A new political party in Germany has made saving the working class and the country's welfare system rallying points for attracting votes. It has been drawing support from the mainstream parties with a radical message.

The party, Die Linke, or the Left Party, is a merger of the reformed Communist Party from East Germany and discontented former Social Democrats. One of its co-leaders, Oskar Lafontaine, says that Germany shouldn't turn its back on working people just as they are increasingly struggling to make ends meet.