(transcript of television appearance)
Rachel Maddow of The Rachel Maddow Show - MSNBC
September 3, 2009
MADDOW: Still ahead: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and his love/hate but mostly love relationship with federal spending.
Plus, we enjoy a few bars from the new opera based on the Senate testimony of Alberto Gonzales. It is honestly, probably the coolest thing you've ever seen on this show. I know. I'm totally freaking out about it.
MADDOW: Next on this show, if you remember Alberto Gonzales as a bad song you can't get out of your head, prepare yourself for Alberto Gonzales, the opera.
MADDOW: One of the great unexpected corollaries in modern American politics is between being the attorney general, the top law enforcement officer in the country, and singing in public. It was Janet Reno who started it.
(MUSIC PLAYING - JANET RENO, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL) "R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Oh, yeah!"After winning the intergalactic karaoke gold medal for that for obvious reasons, Janet Reno, also of "Saturday Night Live" dance party fame went on after her tenure as attorney general to curate a CD collection called "Song of America." Here, she was talking about it on NPR.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP - JANET RENO) "'Home on the Range' was one of the songs we sang. And I had a pony, and I would come home from school singing."MADDOW: Attorney generals and singing. After Janet Reno, John Ashcroft kept up the singing attorney general theme. Some might say Ashcroft actually took it way too far.
(MUSIC PLAYING - John Ashcroft) "Let the Eagle soar, like she's never soared before, from rocky coast to golden shore, let the mighty eagle soar."Now, we can add Alberto Gonzales to America's new proud and totally unexpected tradition of better understanding our attorneys general through song.
A young Australian American composer, 29-year-old Melissa Dunphy has written "The Gonzales Cantata." It's an opera about Alberto Gonzales, inspired by the reaming that Gonzales got before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007 when he pled ignorant and forgetful to allegations about the U.S. attorney scandal.
Every word in the cantata is sung from the transcript of Senate hearings. The composer told the Wall Street Journal that because she was annoyed that there was only one woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, and because female opera singers are easier to find than male opera singers, she ended up reversing the genders of all of the characters involved.
So Alberto Gonzales and senators like Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter and Chuck Grassley are all sung by sopranos. Orrin Hatch is reportedly an alto because he was sort of nice to Alberto Gonzales in the hearing, so that called for a different vibe. Also, Dianne Feinstein is sung by a male tenor.
This is not an anti-Alberto Gonzales thing. And despite the inherent hilarity of an opera about Alberto Gonzales, I spent all day obsessing about this and watching clips of it online and listening to the music. And I have to tell you, in my opinion, it is both great and kind of moving. Here is the aria "I Don't Recall."
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP: Gonzales Cantata "I Don't Recall" trailer]MADDOW: That's how it ends. So awesome. "The Gonzales Cantata" is being performed this weekend as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. If you can't make it to the Fringe Festival to see it, the Web site that we just posted there is "GonzalesCantata.com."
It is awesome, as you can see. It is modeled on "The Drudge Report." So good. On the Web site, they have posted a full play list as well as videos of the cantata being performed.
I have to say if my mentioning "GonzalesCantata.com" crashes that site now, I am very, very sorry. But this is so cool I could not contain myself.