Playing Bridge with Tebaldi and Caruso

by Sedgwick Clark

Nothing beats vacationing in St. Martin with wife and friends who desire nothing more than just an ordinary nap. Or a vigorous game of bridge! One of our friends is a Bronze Life Master. He’s incredibly patient with the rest of us and would make an ideal teacher. He brought two classy decks of cards put out by the Metropolitan Opera for its centennial production of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West with Deborah Voigt in the title role. Toscanini conducted the world premiere at the Met in 1910 with Enrico Caruso as the outlaw bandit Dick Johnson. We’ve all seen the famous production photo where a posse is about to string him up, only to have Minnie (Emmy Destinn) save him at the last minute. It’s too big for a bridge card, so the Met puts a posed photo of the great tenor in costume on one deck. On the other is a posed costume shot of Renata Tebaldi as Minnie in 1970. Opera-loving card sharks should hie to the Met Gift Shop posthaste.

Uninterrupted Reading

It’s the only time of the year for me. Several years ago here I was able to finish Richard Osborne’s tome on Herbert von Karajan after months of struggling to find the time in New York. A couple of days ago I finished A Family Affair, the final book of Rex Stout’s 52 Nero Wolfe mysteries (my third traversal of the canon), and now I’m a quarter of the way through John Canarina’s The New York Philharmonic: From Bernstein to Maazel, which I’ll report on presently. At home, Leon Fleisher’s new autobio, written with Anne Midgette, and Alex Ross’s recent compendium of New Yorker essays await. And I’d still like to say something pithy about James M. North’s masterful discographies of New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony recordings. Soon.

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