On this day in classical music: Italian composer Ottorino Respighi died in Rome in 1936. A master orchestrator whose music is known for its brilliant use of color, Respighi is best remembered for his orchestral Roman trilogy: “The Pines of Rome,” “The Fountains of Rome” and “Roman Festivals.” Listen to the NHK Symphony Orchestra (of Tokyo) perform the final movement of “Roman Festivals,” titled “La Befana.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXjxAFzdcAM
On this day in the musical theatre: “The Light in the Piazza,” a musical based on a short story by Elizabeth Spencer, opened on Broadway in 2005. Adam Guettel, grandson of Richard Rodgers, composed the Tony Award-winning score. Heading the cast was Oklahoman Kelli O’Hara as Clara, a mentally challenged but vivacious young woman who accompanies her mother to Florence, Italy. O’Hara was nominated for a Tony Award. Her co-star, Victoria Clark, won the Tony as Clara’s mother Margaret. Listen to O’Hara sing the musical’s title number. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvVHEBPIuqY
Theatrical musings: (Kelli) O’Hara said another high point for her in this theatrical journey was the opportunity to meet (Elizabeth) Spencer. Now in her 80s, Spencer traveled to Seattle and Chicago to see the show before it moved to Broadway. At each step along the way, Spencer voiced her approval of the show and the cast.
“I met her in all the cities we played, but here in New York, she appeared to be very moved after seeing the opening night production,” O’Hara said. “Adam (Guettel) and Craig (Lucas) were very intent on making her feel like her story was being told.
“After seeing the New York opening, Spencer approached me and shared her impressions. She looked into my eyes and said, ‘You’re the one. You’re my Clara.’ That was such a relief, and it just made me feel fantastic.” – From Rick Rogers’ story about “The Light in the Piazza,” published Nov. 13, 2005 in The Oklahoman.