It’s kind of a slow week on the blog, as my time in consumed by one thing, and one thing only: my thesis. I’m supposed to hand in my first version this week and am almost there. Till I get back to normal life, I’ll leave you with this wonderful piece of music:
Many are the vocal recitals and opera galas that have ended with the Cat Duet as an encore. Though scored for two sopranos and piano, the work exists in orchestral versions and has been sung by male-female pairs and even as a tomcat duet. The text consists in its entirety of the single word “meow,” and singers treat the melodies basically however they want to. The origins of this work are cloudy, but historians agree that it is not an authentic work by Rossini. It does, however, contain a good deal of Rossini’s music, so the attribution is not completely off the mark. The Cat Duet contains elements of 1) the aria “Ah, come mai non senti,” from the second act of Rossini’s opera Otello (1816), 2) a nearby duet between the characters Otello and Iago, and 3) an earlier work in the same vein, the “Cat Cavatina” of Danish opera and song composer C.E.F. Weyse. The compiler was probably Robert Lucas Pearsall, a British composer better known for his output of hymns. In 1973, the Schott publishing house issued a facsimile of an 1825 edition of the Cat Duet, published by Ewer & Johanning and credited to Pearsall, but bearing the pseudonym G. Berthold. From Rossini’s day down to ours, the piece has never lost its appeal for singers, concertgoers, and cat lovers; it often appears, of course, on compilations of classical music pertaining to felines.