Tuesday, February 21, 2017

James Stevenson at the Opera

In the setting of Verdi's Aida, the grandest of grand operas, the late James Stevenson proposed an age-old question about composition. In this cartoon rough, the particular opera can be readily identified from the inclusion of elephants in the grand pageant.

James Stevenson, "Which comes first—the music or the lyrics?"

eBay Listing Ended June 23, 2013

James Stevenson, "Which comes first—the music or the lyrics?"

The scene Mr. Stevenson has depicted is the Triumphal March from Verdi's Aida. The march, as it happens, is a second-act musical interlude with no lyrics. Once upon a time, it was performed by the Met with live elephants, but no longer:
Triumphal March from Aida by Giuseppi Verdi
The Metropolitan Opera, 1989

Mr. Stevenson's idea was very likely not sold to the New Yorker, but a related idea from cartoon editor Lee Lorenz was published:
Lee Lorenz, The New Yorker, June 2, 1975, page 45

Note:  With the passing of New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson (1929-2017), Attempted Bloggery would like to hear from anyone with original drawings, photographs, or correspondence that shed light on this important cartoonist.

Quick Links to Attempted Bloggery's Triumphal Archives
James Stevenson (1929-2017)
Lee Lorenz
Cartoon Roughs
Giuseppe Verdi


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