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55322.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 3:48 pm Reply with quote

An early work by Donizetti, Alfredo il Grande, has one curious feature. The opera is, as you'd expect, about Alfred the Great and has some faint connection with Alfred's real life. It therefore needs to bring in the Viking leader Guthrum as the villain of the piece. But what to call him? Guthrum is difficult to sing, and the name doesn't Italianize very easily. Better to think of an entirely new name, something with local flavour, something that speaks of the north. The solution reached was Atkins. Throughout the piece Alfredo confronts the invading Vikings under their barbaric Viking chief Atkins. Hollywood Viking films may have their absurdities but I question whether there's anything quite as bad as that.

55328.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:02 pm Reply with quote

I always thought that 'Pinkerton' was an unfortunate name for the character in Madame Butterfly, and wondered whether Puccini was aware that it would suggest to an English-speaking audience a portly American detective.

55334.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:14 pm Reply with quote

Puccini didn't originate the tale of Madame Butterfly. The opera was based on a story by John Luther Long, which you can read here.


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