Meet Alma Deutscher, the Classical Music Prodigy: Watch Her Performances from Age 6 to 14

One needn’t think too hard to come up with a list of cel­e­brat­ed chil­dren who seem some­how less excep­tion­al when their baby fat comes off and their per­ma­nent teeth come in.

We’ll eat Wern­er Herzog’s shoe if Alma Deutsch­er’s name is on it.

When she was 11, con­duc­tor Johannes Wild­ner told the New York Times that “she is not good because she is young. She is good because she is extreme­ly tal­ent­ed and has matured very ear­ly.”

Her par­ents were the first to rec­og­nize her extra­or­di­nary abil­i­ties.

It’s nice when a musi­cal­ly gift­ed child is born to par­ents who are not only will­ing to cul­ti­vate that seed, they under­stand that their 18 month old sings with per­fect pitch…

She was near­ing the age of rea­son when the gen­er­al pub­lic became acquaint­ed with the pig­tailed com­pos­er who played piano and vio­lin, loved impro­vis­ing and drew con­stant, not uni­ver­sal­ly wel­come com­par­isons to Mozart.

At sev­en, she penned a short opera inspired by “The Sweep­er of Dreams”, a short sto­ry by Neil Gaiman.


She fol­lowed that up with a full length oper­at­ic reimag­in­ing of Cin­derel­la (age 10) and rig­or­ous train­ing that built on her ear­ly expo­sure to Par­ti­men­ti — key­board impro­vi­sa­tion.

Now 18, Alma con­tin­ues to spell­bind lis­ten­ers with her seem­ing­ly mag­i­cal abil­i­ty to con­jure a piano sonata using ran­dom­ly select­ed notes in less that a minute, just as she wowed 60 Min­utes cor­re­spon­dent Scott Pel­ley after he picked a B, an A, an E flat, and a G from a hat back in 2017, when she was 12.

She’s was unabashed about her love of melody in the 60 Min­utes appear­ance, and has remained so, explain­ing the rea­son­ing behind her piece, Waltz of the Sirens, to a 2019 Carnegie Hall audi­ence by say­ing that she’s always want­ed to write beau­ti­ful music:

Music that comes out of the heart and speaks direct­ly to the heart, but some peo­ple have told me that nowa­days melodies and beau­ti­ful har­monies are no longer accept­able in seri­ous clas­si­cal music because in the 21st cen­tu­ry, music must reflect the ugli­ness of the mod­ern world. Well, in this waltz, instead of try­ing to make my music arti­fi­cial­ly ugly in order to reflect the mod­ern world, I went in exact­ly the oppo­site direc­tion. I took some ugly sounds from the mod­ern world, and I tried to turn them into some­thing more beau­ti­ful through music.

The full length opera The Emperor’s New Waltz is the soon to be 19-year-old’s first major adult achieve­ment in what promis­es to be a long career.

Tak­ing her inspi­ra­tion from Hans Chris­t­ian Ander­sen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, she sought to cre­ate a love sto­ry that would appeal to young pop fans (while also get­ting a few swipes in at the “tune­less world of aton­al con­tem­po­rary music.”)

As she not­ed in an inter­view with Germany’s Klas­sik Radio, it’s “def­i­nite­ly the beau­ti­ful melodies that unite pop and clas­si­cal music:”

I’m sure that if Mozart or Schu­bert had heard the most beau­ti­ful melodies of ABBA, or Queen or Elton John, then they would have been jeal­ous and they would have said, “I wish I had thought of that!”

Relat­ed Con­tent

Leonard Bern­stein Intro­duces 7‑Year-Old Yo-Yo Ma: Watch the Young­ster Per­form for John F. Kennedy (1962)

Leonard Bernstein’s First “Young People’s Con­cert” at Carnegie Hall Asks, “What Does Music Mean?”

Hear the High­est Note Sung in the 137-Year His­to­ry of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

When Leonard Bernstein Turned Voltaire’s Candide into an Opera (with Help from Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker & Stephen Sondheim)

The sev­en­teen-fifties found West­ern civ­i­liza­tion in the mid­dle of its Age of Enlight­en­ment. That long era intro­duced on a large scale the notion that, through the use of ratio­nal­i­ty and sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge, human­i­ty could make progress. For the Enlight­en­men­t’s true believ­ers, it would have even­tu­al­ly become quite easy indeed to assume that we had nowhere to go but up, and would soon­er or lat­er attain a state of per­fec­tion. No such fan­tasies, of course, for Jean-Marie Arou­et, bet­ter known as Voltaire. Despite being an Enlight­en­ment icon, he pulled no punch­es in attack­ing what he saw as its delu­sions, most last­ing­ly in his 1759 satir­i­cal nov­el Can­dide, ou l’Op­ti­misme.

Two cen­turies lat­er, West­ern civ­i­liza­tion, and espe­cial­ly the fresh­ly formed civ­i­liza­tion of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, had entered a new age of rea­son. Or rather, it had entered an age of tech­ni­cal, indus­tri­al, and orga­ni­za­tion­al “know-how.”

The con­vic­tion that Amer­i­ca could be per­fect­ed through engi­neered sys­tems played its part in gen­er­at­ing a degree of pros­per­i­ty the world had nev­er known (and would have scarce­ly been imag­in­able in Voltaire’s day). But it also had grim­mer man­i­fes­ta­tions, such as McCarthy­ism and the House Un-Amer­i­can Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee, whose pro­ce­dures ground away at the core of the anti-Com­mu­nist “red scare.”

In Can­dide, Voltaire takes to task a vari­ety of not just beliefs but insti­tu­tions, includ­ing the Por­tuguese Inqui­si­tion. The play­wright Lil­lian Hell­man, who’d been black­list­ed after appear­ing before the HUAC in 1947, “observed a sin­is­ter par­al­lel between the Inqui­si­tion’s church-spon­sored purges and the ‘Wash­ing­ton Witch Tri­als,’ fueled by anti-Com­mu­nist hys­te­ria.” So says the web site of Leonard Bern­stein, Hell­man’s col­lab­o­ra­tor on what would become a com­ic-operetta adap­ta­tion of Can­dide. With con­tri­bu­tions from lyri­cist John LaTouche, poet Richard Wilbur, and Algo­nquin Round Table wit Dorothy Park­er, their pro­duc­tion was ready to open in the fall of 1956.

Stripped in the eleventh hour of Hell­man’s most direct top­i­cal attacks, and even then crit­i­cized for over-seri­ous­ness, the orig­i­nal Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Can­dide end­ed after 73 per­for­mances. (Record­ings of the orig­i­nal pro­duc­tion can be pur­chased online.) Nev­er­the­less, there was cause for opti­mism about its future: the show would be revived in Lon­don with a revised book two years lat­er, with fur­ther new ver­sions to fol­low in the nine­teen-sev­en­ties and eight­ies, its lyrics sup­ple­ment­ed by no less a Broad­way mas­ter than Stephen Sond­heim. The two-and-a-half hour video above com­bines high­lights of two con­sec­u­tive per­for­mances in 1989, con­duct­ed by Bern­stein him­self in the year before his death. “Like its hero, Can­dide is per­haps des­tined nev­er to find its per­fect form and func­tion,” notes Bern­stein’s site. “In the final analy­sis, how­ev­er, that may prove philo­soph­i­cal­ly appro­pri­ate.”

Relat­ed con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Voltaire: Enlight­en­ment Philoso­pher of Plu­ral­ism & Tol­er­ance

What Voltaire Meant When He Said That “We Must Cul­ti­vate Our Gar­den”: An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion

Leonard Bernstein’s Mas­ter­ful Lec­tures on Music (11+ Hours of Video Record­ed at Har­vard in 1973)

Hear the Famous­ly Con­tro­ver­sial Con­cert Where Leonard Bern­stein Intro­duces Glenn Gould & His Idio­syn­crat­ic Per­for­mance of Brahms’ First Piano Con­cer­to (1962)

Leonard Bern­stein Awk­ward­ly Turns the Screws on Tenor Jose Car­reras While Record­ing West Side Sto­ry (1984)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

An Opera Singer & Cabaret Artist Record an Astonishing Version of David Bowie & Queen’s “Under Pressure”

On the sur­face of things, Antho­ny Roth Costan­zo, the inter­na­tion­al­ly-rec­og­nized coun­tertenor and Justin Vivian Bond, the sub­ver­sive per­for­mance artist best known for their cre­ation Kiki DuRane, “an alco­holic bat­tle-axe with a throat full of razor-blades,” would have lit­tle rea­son to share a mic, let alone inhab­it the same stage.

Leave sur­faces behind!

Their genre-defy­ing, just released album, Only An Octave Apart, explores the depths that lurk beneath them, find­ing com­mon cause between their cho­sen art forms and then some. The album’s title, a nod to the open­ing num­ber of a Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera tele­vi­sion spe­cial star­ring come­di­an Car­ol Bur­nett and oper­at­ic sopra­no Bev­er­ly Sills, is just the tip of the ice­berg.

As they state in the pro­gram notes for a recent appear­ance with the New York Phil­har­mon­ic at Jazz at Lin­coln Cen­ter:

We each sound dif­fer­ent from what you would expect when you look at us. The jux­ta­po­si­tion of our voic­es, per­son­al­i­ties, and reper­toire sub­verts notions of high and low, be it in terms of pitch, cul­tur­al ech­e­lon, or degrees of camp — not to men­tion the dif­fer­ence in height.

If you thought David Bowie and Fred­die Mer­cury sent things into the stratos­phere when they joined forces on “Under Pres­sure,” lis­ten to Costan­zo and Bond’s take, above.

Their Dido’s Lament / White Flag Med­ley smash­es the musi­cal bina­ry with a del­i­ca­cy that is giv­en room to grow.

Costan­zo begins with two and a half soar­ing min­utes from Hen­ry Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas.

Intro­duc­ing the num­ber at Jazz at Lin­coln Cen­ter, he recalled how Dido & Aeneas was one of his first pro­fes­sion­al opera gigs at 19. No, he was­n’t cast as the fatal­ly dis­traught Queen of Carthage, a diva role he’s eyed for years, but rather the Sec­ond Woman and First Witch.

(“Sec­ond Woman / First Witch…sounds like the sto­ry of my life,” Bond mar­veled. “I own it! Can you imag­ine if you were First Woman and Sec­ond Witch?”)

Costan­zo got his chance at Dido in the sum­mer of 2020 when, with per­for­mance venues still closed due to the pan­dem­ic, he hatched an idea to cart Phil­har­mon­ic musi­cians and guest singers around the city’s five Bor­oughs in a rent­ed pick­up dubbed the NY Phil Band­wag­on80-some free per­for­mances lat­er, he felt ready to record.

When Bond joins in, it’s with Eng­lish singer-song­writer Dido’s 2003 chart top­per, White Flag, which also speaks to the pains of love. The sin­cer­i­ty of the per­form­ers caus­es a gor­geous alchem­i­cal reac­tion to soft­en the posi­tions of more than a few staunch opera-phobes and pop-deniers.

(“The won­der­ful thing about the opera,” Bond cracks, “is when you wake up, you’re at the opera!”)

Their Egypt­ian Sun mash up is born of an even can­nier pair­ing — The Ban­gles’ mid-80s hit, Walk Like An Egypt­ian and Philip Glass’ ancient Egypt-themed min­i­mal­ist mod­ern opera, Akhnat­en, in which Costan­za recent­ly starred, mak­ing his first entrance nude and flecked with gold.

Oth­er trea­sures from this fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion include skill­ful inter­twin­ings of Tom Jobim’s Bossa nova favorite Águas de Março (Waters of March) with Gioachi­no Rossini’s Cin­derel­la-themed con­fec­tion La Cener­en­to­la,  and Gluck’s 18th-cen­tu­ry mas­ter­piece, Orfeo ed Euridice with Don’t Give Up, a “mes­sage of hope in the bleak­est of moments” and a hit for Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush when Bond was a year out of college…and  Costan­zo was four.

Lis­ten to Only an Octave Apart in its entire­ty on YouTube or Spo­ti­fy.

Antho­ny Ross Costan­zo will reprise his role as the rev­o­lu­tion­ary pharaoh, Akhnat­en, at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera lat­er this spring.

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The Blob Opera Lets You Create Festive Music with Ease: An Interactive Experiment Powered by Machine Learning

Tis the sea­son when we’re nev­er more than one sin­ga­long Mes­si­ah away from wish­ing we had a bet­ter voice.

David Li’s inter­ac­tive Blob Opera allows us to pre­tend.

The machine learn­ing exper­i­ment takes its cues from four opera singers—soprano Olivia Dout­ney, mez­zo-sopra­no Joan­na Gam­ble, tenor Chris­t­ian Joel, and bass Fred­die Tong—who pro­vid­ed it with 16 hours of record­ed mate­r­i­al.

The result is tru­ly an all-ages activ­i­ty that’s much eas­i­er on the ears than most dig­i­tal diver­sions.

Click and drag one of the gum­my-bod­ied blobs up and down to change its pitch.

Pull them for­wards and back­wards to vary their vow­el sounds.

Once all four are in posi­tion, the three you’re not active­ly con­trol­ling will har­mo­nize like a heav­en­ly host.

You can dis­able indi­vid­ual blobs’ audio to cre­ate solos, duets and trios with­in your com­po­si­tion.

Press record and you can share with the world.

The blobs don’t sing in any dis­cernible lan­guage, but they can do lega­to, stac­ca­to, and shoot up to incred­i­bly high notes with a min­i­mum of effort. Their eyes pin­wheel when they har­mo­nize.

As Li describes to co-pro­duc­er Google Arts & Cul­ture below, it’s not the orig­i­nal singers’ voic­es we’re chan­nel­ing, but rather the machine learn­ing model’s under­stand­ing of the oper­at­ic sound.

Click the pine tree icon and the blobs will ser­e­nade you with the most-searched Christ­mas car­ols.

Begin your col­lab­o­ra­tion with Blob Opera here.

If you find your­self want­i­ng more, have a go at the inter­ac­tive Choir Li cre­at­ed for Adult Swim.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Sci­ence of Opera,” a Dis­cus­sion of How Music Moves Us Phys­i­cal­ly to Tears

The Met Opera Stream­ing Free Operas Online to Get You Through COVID-19

The Opera Data­base: Find Scores, Libret­ti & Syn­opses for Thou­sands of Operas Free Online

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

When Shostakovich Adapted Gogol’s “The Nose” Into an Opera: Watch Giant Noses Tap Dancing on the Stage

The first-time read­er of a sto­ry called “The Nose” may expect any num­ber of things: a char­ac­ter with a keen sense of smell; a mur­der evi­denced by the tit­u­lar organ, dis­em­bod­ied; a broad­er iron­ic point about the things right in front of our faces that we some­how nev­er see. But giv­en its con­cep­tion in the imag­i­na­tion of Niko­lai Gogol, “The Nose” is about a nose — a nose that, on its own, lives, breathes, walks, and dress­es in fin­ery. The nose does this, it seems, in order to rise in rank past that of its for­mer own­er, the run-of-the-mill St. Peters­burg civ­il ser­vant Col­le­giate Asses­sor Kova­ly­ov.

Writ­ten in 1835 and 1836, “The Nose” sat­i­rizes the long era in Impe­r­i­al Rus­sia after Peter the Great intro­duced the Table of Ranks. Meant to ush­er in a kind of pro­to-mer­i­toc­ra­cy, that sys­tem assigned rank to mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment offi­cers accord­ing, at least in the­o­ry, to their abil­i­ty and achieve­ments. The fact that those who attained high enough ranks would rise the to the lev­el of hered­i­tary nobles cre­at­ed an all-out sta­tus war across many sec­tions of soci­ety — a war, to the mind of Gogol the mas­ter observ­er of bureau­cra­cy, that could pit a man not just against his col­leagues and friends but against his own body parts.

Near­ly a cen­tu­ry after the sto­ry’s pub­li­ca­tion, a young Dmitri Shostakovich took it upon him­self to adapt “The Nose” into his very first opera. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Alexan­der Preis, Geor­gy Ion­in, and Yevge­ny Zamy­atin (author of the endur­ing dystopi­an nov­el We), the com­pos­er ren­dered even more out­ra­geous­ly this tale of a nose gone rogue. Incor­po­rat­ing pieces of Gogol’s oth­er sto­ries like the “The Over­coat” and “Diary of a Mad­man” as well as the play Mar­riage and the diary Dead Souls — not to men­tion the writ­ings of oth­er Russ­ian mas­ters, includ­ing Dos­toyevsky’s The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov — the 1928 opera com­bines a wide vari­ety of musi­cal styles both tra­di­tion­al and exper­i­men­tal, and among its set pieces includes a num­ber per­formed by giant tap-danc­ing noses.

You can see that part per­formed in the video above. The venue is Lon­don’s Roy­al Opera House, the direc­tor is Bar­rie Kosky of Berlin’s Komis­che Oper, and the year is 2016, half a cen­tu­ry after The Nose’s revival. Though com­plet­ed in the late 1920s, it did­n’t pre­miere on stage in full until 1930, when Sovi­et cen­sor­ship con­cen­trat­ed its ener­gies on quash­ing such non-rev­o­lu­tion­ary spec­ta­cles. It would­n’t be staged again in the Sovi­et Union until 1974, near­ly a decade after its pre­miere in the Unit­ed States. (Just a cou­ple years before, Alexan­der Alex­eieff and Claire Park­er had adapt­ed the sto­ry into the pin­screen ani­ma­tion pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture.) The sociopo­lit­i­cal con­cerns of Gogol’s ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry and Shostakovich’s ear­ly 20th may have passed, but the appeal of the for­mer’s sharp satire — and the sheer Pythonesque weird­ness of the lat­ter’s oper­at­ic sen­si­bil­i­ty — cer­tain­ly haven’t.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Niko­lai Gogol’s Clas­sic Sto­ry, “The Nose,” Ani­mat­ed With the Aston­ish­ing Pin­screen Tech­nique (1963)

Revered Poet Alexan­der Pushkin Draws Sketch­es of Niko­lai Gogol and Oth­er Russ­ian Artists

The Bizarre, Sur­viv­ing Scene from the 1933 Sovi­et Ani­ma­tion Based on a Pushkin Tale and a Shostakovich Score

George Saun­ders’ Lec­tures on the Russ­ian Greats Brought to Life in Stu­dent Sketch­es

Why You Should Read The Mas­ter and Mar­gari­ta: An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Bulgakov’s Rol­lick­ing Sovi­et Satire

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

Barcelona Opera Re-Opens with a Performance for 2,300 Potted Plants: Watch It Online

Writes The Guardian: “Barcelon­a’s El Liceu opera house reopened on Mon­day with a con­cert to an audi­ence of 2,292 pot­ted plants. The event took place a day after Spain’s state of emer­gency came to an end after more than three months. It was the work of Span­ish con­cep­tu­al artist Euge­nio Ampu­dia, who said the inspi­ra­tion came from a con­nec­tion he built with nature dur­ing the pan­dem­ic: ‘I watched what was going on with nature dur­ing all this time. I heard many more birds singing. And the plants in my gar­den and out­side grow­ing faster. And, with­out a doubt, I thought that maybe I could now relate in a much more inti­mate way with peo­ple and nature.’ ”

You can watch the per­for­mance below. It begins at the 8:30 mark. And do know that plants will be donat­ed to front­line health work­ers.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

6 Minute Reprieve From the World’s Troubles, Courtesy of Tilda Swinton, Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, and Five Springer Spaniels

This video of Til­da Swin­ton’s Springer Spaniels cavort­ing in pas­toral Scot­land to a Han­del aria per­formed by coun­tertenor Antho­ny Roth Costan­zo won’t cure what ails you, but it is def­i­nite­ly good med­i­cine.

Swin­ton and her part­ner, artist San­dro Kopp, filmed the beau­ti­ful beasts in such a way as to high­light their dog­gy exu­ber­ance, whether mov­ing as a pack or tak­ing a solo turn.

The title of the aria, “Rompo i Lac­ci,” from the sec­ond act of Flavio, trans­lates to “I break the laces,” and there’s no mis­tak­ing the joy Rosy, Dora, Louis, Dot, and Snow­bear take in being off the leash.

Flash­backs to their roly­poly pup­py selves are cute, but it’s the feath­ery ears and tails of the adult dogs that steal the show as they bound around beach and field.

The film­mak­ers get a lot of mileage from their stars’ lolling pink tongues and will­ing­ness to vig­or­ous­ly launch them­selves toward any out of frame treat.

We’ve nev­er seen a ten­nis ball achieve such beau­ty.

There’s also some fun to be had in spe­cial effects where­in the dogs are dou­bled by a mir­ror effect and lat­er, when one of them turns into a canine Rorschach blot.

The video was orig­i­nal­ly screened as part of Costan­zo’s mul­ti-media Glass Han­del instal­la­tion for Opera Philadel­phia, an explo­ration into how opera can make the hairs on the back of our neck stand up.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Sci­ence of Opera,” a Dis­cus­sion of How Music Moves Us Phys­i­cal­ly to Tears

How a Philip Glass Opera Gets Made: An Inside Look

Til­da Swin­ton Recites Poem by Rumi While Reek­ing of Vetiv­er, Heliotrope & Musk

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Italians’ Nightly Singalongs Prove That Music Soothes the Savage Beast of Coronavirus Quarantine & Self-Isolation

It’s not like we’re maestros…it’s a moment of joy in this moment of anx­i­ety. —Emma San­tachiara, Rome

As report­ed by The New York Times, Ms. Sanachiara, age 73, has joined the vast choir of ordi­nary Ital­ians tak­ing to their bal­conies and win­dows to par­tic­i­pate in social­ly dis­tant neigh­bor­hood sin­ga­longs as coro­n­avirus rages through their coun­try.

The Inter­net has been explod­ing with mes­sages of sup­port and admi­ra­tion for the quar­an­tined cit­i­zens’ musi­cal dis­plays, which have a fes­tive New Year’s Eve feel, espe­cial­ly when they accom­pa­ny them­selves on pot lids.

Three days ago, Rome’s first female may­or, Vir­ginia Rag­gi, called upon res­i­dents to fling open their win­dows or appear on their bal­conies for night­ly 6pm com­mu­ni­ty sings.

A woman in Turin report­ed that the pop up musi­cales have forged friend­ly bonds between neigh­bors who in pre-quar­an­tine days, nev­er acknowl­edged each other’s exis­tence.

Nat­u­ral­ly, there are some soloists.

Tenor Mau­r­izio Mar­chi­ni ser­e­nad­ed Flo­ren­tines to “Nes­sun Dor­ma,” the famous aria from Puc­cini’s opera Turan­dot, repeat­ing the high B along with a final Vin­cerò!, which earns him a clap from his young son.

In Rome, Giu­liano San­gior­gi, front­man for Negra­maro, hit his bal­cony, gui­tar in hand, to enter­tain neigh­bors with Pino Daniele’s 1980 hit “Quan­no Chiove” and his own band’s “Mer­av­iglioso.”

Ear­li­er in the year, the 11 mil­lion res­i­dents of Wuhan, Chi­na, the dead­ly epi­cen­ter of the coro­n­avirus out­break, also used music to boost morale, singing the nation­al anthem and oth­er patri­ot­ic songs from their indi­vid­ual res­i­dences. Jiāyóu, or “add oil,” was a fre­quent exhor­ta­tion, remind­ing those in iso­la­tion to stay strong and keep going.

Read­ers, are you singing with your neigh­bors from a safe dis­tance? Are they ser­e­nad­ing you? Let us know in the com­ments.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Tom Waits Releas­es a Time­ly Cov­er of the Ital­ian Anti-Fas­cist Anthem “Bel­la Ciao,” His First New Song in Two Years

Bruce Spring­steen Sin­gin’ in the Rain in Italy, and How He Cre­ates Pow­er­ful Imag­i­nary Worlds

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Like most of us in this crazy, his­toric peri­od, all of her events have been can­celled. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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