Stranger in Paradise
Alexander Borodin, Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor
The Russian composer Alexander Borodin (1833 - 87) left his opera, Prince Igor, unfinished when he died. Two of his friends, the great composers Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov, finished it for him. It is performed still today. Borodin's music is lush and lovely: filled with mystery and the East.
In 1953, music from Prince Igor was adapted into an American musical called Kismet, and two years later the musical was made into a film by the same name. The story revolves around a young caliph who worries that no one will love him for who he is, but for his power, status and riches. He meets the daughter of poet, and he loves her. He pretends to be a simple gardener, and she loves him, even knowing that life with him would mean a life in poverty. You can imagine her surprise when he reveals who he is. The film and musical involve other storylines, but what I have described is, to me, the central story. One of Borodin's most beautiful melodies becomes the basis for the love duet "Stranger in Paradise."
Here is a link to this duet from the film (the performers are Vic Damone & Ann Blyth):
The original Borodin is lovely. Here is a link to a 2008 recording by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (no conductor is given):
I created "Those Who Stood Before the Tavern Shouted," the image above, in 2006. It is based on Mandelbrot fractals. The title is from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam (1048 - 1131); the translator is Edmund Fitzgerald:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
But helpless pieces in the game He plays,
Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days,
He hither and thither moves, and checks… and slays,
Then one by one, back in the Closet lays.
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted— “Open then the Door!
You know how little time we have to stay,
And once departed, may return no more.”
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou,
Beside me singing in the Wilderness,
And oh, Wilderness is Paradise enow.