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,)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.
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!)