I have spent more time than I ought to this week playing an extended game of What the Fuck Is That Song. This is because I got a bootleg recording of a recital by Sondra Radvanvosky, recorded back in 2004. There’s no indication of what’s on it, so I have 19 mystery tracks to identify. Some of them are easier than others – e.g. if it’s about fourteen minutes long and begins with “Ah, perfido!” it’s probably Beethoven’s aria of the same name because there are only so many things in the world that are fourteen minutes long and begin with “Ah, perfido!”
But in non “Ah, perfido!”-type situations, one is reduced to trying to catch the first line, googling the first line, and then either checking an aria or song database to match the text or finding clips of whatever it might be on YouTube and listening to see if they are the same. I have had more success with some tracks than others: it’s amazing how much more intelligible sung Italian is when you know the words already.
So I have developed a pincer strategy. One side of the pincer is the abovedescribed listening and googling; the other is finding reviews of Radvanovsky’s recitals that list the things that she commonly sings, and then seeing if those are the things that I am hearing on this particular recital. Maybe by the time I have made myself thoroughly sick of the recording, I will know what is on it.