Very Random Access Musical Memory ©2010 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — OK, so here’s another one of my musical treasure hunts. Tonight, I heard the students of my friend in the music college perform. Among the songs were two from Western operas. Both I recognized right away, and I could even sing along (not very loud, of course), but I could only remember the name of one of the operas. The first was from Bizet’s Carmen — the “Habanera”. Even if you’re not an opera buff, you have to know this aria, because of the distinctive chromatic glide down the scale as the cello plays “ba ba ba bum ba ba ba dum.” And for those who can’t read music, here’s an Old School video of Maria Callas singing it in 1962. That one wasn’t so hard, but the second, a duet, was a mystery. I knew the tune well enough to sing the man’s part (not the lyrics, though), but why did I know the tune? And who wrote it? This is the kind of thing that can keep me up at night. The program was not all that helpful, since it only provided the title in Chinese and the names of the performers. The Chinese title ...
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