Monday, February 1, 2010

Singer of the Day: Paul Robeson 1898- 1976

Since Febrauary is Black History month, I thought it fitting to start with the great American bass-baritone, actor, lawyer, social activist and athelete, Paul Robeson.

Robeson was a twentieth century Renaissance man. His talent, intellect and political activism made him one of the most powerful figures of his time and American history.

"All men all brothers because of their music."

"No pretty songs, no pretty songs, gentlemen. Time for some full citizenship."

Mephistopheles' Song in Auerbach's Cellar (Song of the Flea) Pesnya Mefistofelya o blokhe by Mussorgsky 1879 1879 It is based on Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy (1808) by Goethe, translated by Strugovshchikov

English translation:

There once was a king
who had a large flea
whom he loved not a bit less
than his very own son.
He called his tailor
and the tailor came directly;
"Here - make clothing for this knight,
and cut him trousers too!"

In silk and satin
was the flea now made up;
he had ribbons on his clothing,
and he had also a cross there,
and had soon become a minister
and had a large star.
Then his siblings became
great lords and ladies of the court as well.

And the lords and ladies of the court
were greatly plagued;
the queen and her ladies-in-waiting
were pricked and bitten,
and they dared not flick
or scratch them away.
But we flick and crush them
as soon as one bites!

Here is another example of the rare and beautiful instrument of this remarkable man.

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