Friday, April 01, 2005

"This is the Today show on NBC...aaaannnnndddd cue the drunken monks."

So Matt Lauer is reporting live from the Vatican this morning as updates on what could be the Pope's final days here on earth come in. As he goes to commercial, the camera shows us some random Italian architecture visible from where Matt sits and plays some Latin opera that sounds all liturgical and stuff. More on this in a moment.

Now, although I enjoy a good opera, I am far from an expert on the subject. However, there was one opera that I really got into and listened to over and over about a dozen years ago. It's called Carmina Burana by Carl Orff and is probably one of the more recognized operas here in the states. This is no doubt due to its usage in such varied places as the movie Excalibur and in some NFL commercials a few years back.

The story of the opera is an interesting one. Orff based his opera on a series of songs and poems that were penned by a group of young clergy students in the 1200's. The content of the material is best summed up by Wikipedia:

"The lyrics of the poems cover a wide range of secular topics, as familiar in the 13th century as they are today: the fickleness of fortune, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of spring, and the pleasures of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust."

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Yes, the music that the Today show used when they went to commercial, and in turn to set the mood for a dying pontiff, was from Carmina Burana. As I said, I listened to it a lot when I was younger, and I could detect the exact passage they used. It is the penultimate section called "Ave formosissima" (or "Hail, most beautiful one"). The Latin lyrics and English translation follow:

Ave formosissima, (Hail, most beautiful one,)
gemma pretiosa, (precious jewel,)
ave decus virginum, (Hail, pride among virgins,)
virgo gloriosa, (glorious virgin,)
ave mundi luminar, (Hail. light of the world,)
ave mundi rosa, (Hail, rose of the world,)
Blanziflor et Helena, (Blanchefleur and Helen,)
Venus generosa! (noble Venus!)
Well, it's not as bad as the sections of the opera concerning Decius, the God of Dice Throwing, but still. Those Today show technicians who imagined one piece of Latin opera sounds the same as another may get in trouble for this, but I doubt it. After all, April 1st is the day where everyone gets the chance to be the fool and be fooled.


Anonymous said...

It's just a song, get over yourself! In modern times people listen to this genre and style of opera because they like what they hear. No need to bring anthetical logic into it.

Alonzo Mosley (FBI) said...

Not knowing what anthetical means, I can't really dispute that. However, mine was just an observation and was not meant to suggest this song usage portended the end of the Catholic Church, the Today show and Civilization as we know it.

I made a similar observation months ago about a trailer for "The Tigger Movie" which had used a Third Eye Blind tune. It was peppy and happy and the style of music perfectly fit the tone of the movie. Unfortunately, the lyrics were about teenagers trying to score some crystal meth.

It is indeed a ZANY world we live in.