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Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to see the Spokane Opera
production of I Pagliacci (The Clowns).

There's a reason that Leoncavallo's opera is one of the most popular and
frequently performed in the literature. It's a relatively short tale of
love, jealousy, and murder. In fact it would make a pretty good private
eye novel if it weren't for the fact that very little investigation is
needed when a murder is committed in front of a large group of people.

The principal roles, with Gregory Carroll as Canio and Heather Parker as
Nedda, were sung very well. I was moved by their performances. And the
ensemble numbers were very well put together.

While I had one of the best seats in the house last week for the Spokane
Symphony, my seat for I Pagliacci was in the stratosphere — next
to last row in the second balcony. I felt like Chuck Yeager up there.
But I had learned in the 70s that with opera it doesn't make that much
difference where you sit. So I sat in the cheap seats along with a whole
bunch of young people who evidently couldn't afford better seats either.
I was happy to see so many youngsters there. One guy I talked to on the
way out had come all the way from Canada to see the performance. With
that kind of interest, I think the musical arts will be good to go in
Spokane in future decades.

Gearing up for the opera a few days ago I started thinking about a
television commercial they had running in the 60s with words set to the
music of the aria "Vesti" from I Pagliacci. The commercial had a
man come to sit at the head of the table with his family, looking
forward to having his Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal. But he finds no
Krispies in the box, it has all been eaten. Upon which he sings —

No more Rice Krispies,
We've run out of Rice Krispies!
My tears will not stop,
Until I hear 'snap, crackle, pop'!

Uh huh. Well it certainly is good to run across a man who is passionate
about his cereal.

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