Colin Matthews / The Frogs
On this day in classical music: The London premiere of Colin Matthews’ “Pluto — The Renewer” (intended as a contribution to Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”) was given its premiere at a BBC Prom concert in 2000. The work was commissioned by the Halle Orchestra and was intended to create a new finale to Holst’s astronomical suite. (This was six years before Pluto was relegated to “dwarf planet” status. Listen to Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic perform Matthews’ “Pluto-The Renewer.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikU3wfsq4GE
On this day in the musical theatre: Stephen Sondheim’s “The Frogs” opened on Broadway in 2004. First presented in Yale University’s swimming pool in 1974, “The Frogs” was based on a comedy by the Greek playwright Aristophanes. The musical would have to wait 30 years before it was given a fully-staged production. Nathan Lane headed the cast as Dionysus, the god of wine and drama who travels to Hades to bring back the distinguished playwright George Bernard Shaw. Given Dionysus’ claim about there being a paucity of first rate living dramatists, William Shakespeare also lobbies for the honor. The two writers engage in a battle of wits and after several rounds, the Bard wins. For the 2004 production, Sondheim wrote seven new songs. “The Frogs” had a brief two month run. Listen to the “Invocation and Instructions to the Audience” from a BBC Proms concert in 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU4xVacjnWE
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