Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff

OPERATIC CARS PART 2

WHO WOULD have guessed the closeness of automobiles and opera? We move from yesterday’s Wagner Ring Cycle links to those involving Verdi, Gounod, Berg, and back to Wagner again.

A most familiar name is Ford. It happens as well to identify one of the principal characters in Giuseppe Verdi’s comedy Falstaff.

Falstaff Wooing Mistress Ford, watercolor, early 19th century, possibly by John Masey Wright.

Ford, a baritone, is a wealthy guy whose wife Alice is a threatened victim of scam-artist Falstaff. Ford and Mistress Ford foil Falstaff, indeed twice: In Act 2, Falstaff ends up tossed into the Thames with dirty laundry. In Act 3, he gets thrashed by “elves and fairies.” Falstaff’s fate has appeared previously at SimanaitisSays in “Etymology: Bellwether.”

In Charles Gounod’s opera Faust, Marguerite is the young maiden done wrong. When Faust swaps his soul for a return to his youth, Méphistophélès tempts him with a vision of her. Then things get downright serious.

Faust falls big time for Marguerite, Act 1, Faust.

Before the final curtain falls, there’s a drowned infant, Marguerite goes to the slammer, Méphistophélès tempts Faust to save her, but she trusts in God. Her soul rises to heaven. Faust is saved too.

The Marguerite automobile was a 1920s’ sports car built by Frenchman A. Marguerite, but, curiously, often sold to other firms which marketed them under their own names. These included the French Induco, Madou, and MA, and the Spanish Hisparco. Marguerite’s funding came from Zamorano de Biedema. Alas, this benefactor lost big at the Deauville Casino in 1928, and Marguerite’s company folded.

A 1925 Marguerite Model BO in the Bol d’Or, a French 24-hour race first run in 1922, a year before the inaugural Le Mans. Image from The Encyclopedia of Motor Sport.

Alban Berg’s opera Lulu is rather less uplifting than Faust. Lulu has a knack of accumulating husbands and lovers who subsequently die. She ultimately succumbs to no less than Jack the Ripper.

Lulu, as portrayed by Marlis Petersen in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2015 production of Alban Berg’s opera Lulu.

Add a hyphen, and the 1914 Lu-Lu was a two-seat cyclecar built by Kearns Motor Truck Company, Beaverton, Pennsylvania. Seemingly not as tacky as some of the cyclecars, the Lu-Lu had a 14-hp four-cylinder engine, a three-speed transmission, and shaft drive.

1914 Lu-Lu 12-hp two-seater. Image from The Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars.

On a recurring Wagner car theme, a Valkyrie automobile has been around since 1967. Essentially a kitcar from auto bodywork purveyor Fiberfab, the Valkyrie wrapped a mid-engine V-8 in swoopy fiberglass, all propelled by an optimistic press brochure that claimed “0-60 in 3.9 seconds” and “a parachute for braking in excess of 140 mph.”

There’s also the Aston Martin Valkyrie, introduced in 2016 and making the world auto show circuit in 2017.

The 2019 Aston Martin Valkyrie. Image from Jalopnik.

In July 2017, Jalopnik reported that “Aston Martin Has Updated the Valkyrie To Be Even More Unbelievable.” The Valkyrie has a 6.5-liter V-12 engine producing 1130 hp and hybrid electric power adding another 100 or so in a KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) akin to those in modern Formula One.

Brünhilde, portrayed by Adèle Almati, in Wagner’s Die Walküre, Royal Swedish Opera, 1895.

The Aston Martin Valkyrie promises to be even more outrageous than Brünhilde and her eight BGFs, the ones toting dead heroes to Valhalla in their saddlebags. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018

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