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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It gets even better

Strayhorn's incidental music for Don Perlimplín is called "Sprite music." The sprites in Lorca's play are called "duendes" in the original play. But they bear no relation to Lorca's "theory of the duende." They are just "sprites" here. Magical little creatures. Strayhorn's music here is not jazz. It is more like Debussy than anything else.

The sets for this production were done by Alfred Leslie, a 2nd generation New York School painter.

There are multiple cultural worlds colliding in this production of Lorca's play. Strayhorn's two biographers call the play "surrealist" (not really). It is set in the 18th century; it is a farce, but with delicate poetry. It draws on the theme of cuckolded husband, traditional in Golden Age drama. (Think Cervantes's "El viejo celoso.")

The actors performing the play were black vaudevillians. I don't know that White Vaudeville performers would have done it better.

John Bernard Myers, the art dealer and companion of the director Herbert Machiz, calls them "beautiful blackamoors."

A translation of the play came out a few years later, in a book edited by Eric Bentley.

The critics did not appreciate the play.

The whole anecdote has a "surreal" quality to it. If you invented such a thing for a novel nobody would find it believable. It is marvelous but a dead end. It is tailor-made for Mayhew, though he missed it the first time around.

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