Jim Smith, the proprietor of Sunstone Press in Santa Fe, was a longtime friend of the great television educator Fred Rogers. Smith recently drew my attention to a fascinating Santa Fe New Mexican piece, by Mark Tiarks, about Rogers’s musical career. Rogers majored in composition at Rollins College; his graduation piece is above. Tiarks notes that Rogers’ roommate at Rollins was the future Metropolitan Opera baritone John Reardon, who would also sing the lead roles in the miniature operas that were a recurring feature of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The tradition ended when Reardon died of AIDS in 1988. After graduation, Rogers served for a time as a floor manager at NBC, learning the television business. One of his assignments was the NBC Opera Theatre, where he worked on Amahl and the Night Visitors, Trouble in Tahiti, and a condensed Billy Budd. He discusses that phase of his career in an Archive of American Television interview; at 6:55, you can hear him singing a snippet of Billy Budd. Tiarks writes: “Although his ego was at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Richard Wagner’s, Rogers took Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk approach, writing all the scripts, as well as the lyrics and music for the more than 200 songs performed on [the show].” I will see if I can incorporate that provocative insight into a revised version of Wagnerism. Years ago, Jim Smith told me Rogers enjoyed reading my New Yorker columns; it’s the best compliment I’ve ever received.
from Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise https://ift.tt/3oBBRPu