QUESTION: How many chickens have become professional opera singers in the United States?
The American Treasure Tour blog has been dedicated to exploring the stories of items in our collection now for years - the variety of pieces on display provides a virtually endless choice of subjects. Last week and this week have focused on accomplished Americans (both Union and Confederate, as the case may be) honored in lithographs. Today, we are going to take a sharp turn into the worlds of music and electric store animations. Yes, the subject line got it right. We have a chicken singing opera on display in our Toy Box. Sadly, we could find no information about real chickens that sing opera, although there are is a small representation of animated opera chickens and people dressed up as chickens singing on such sites as YouTube. So we enjoy our little guy - about three feet tall and singing away, dramatically gesticulating. There is SOME confusion, though. It looks like a chicken, but is wearing a vest and trousers, as one might expect a rooster to do. We're pretty sure it's a chicken, but know that there's no such thing as a male chicken. But there are certainly male opera singers.
Opera is an Italian word which translates to "work" - both the act of working and the resultant work. There is a "first" opera. Produced in 1597, Jacopo Peri's Dafne delves into Greek mythology, telling the story of Apollo's love for the nymph Daphne. The powerful Medici family of Florence loved the performance enough to support Peri's future works (or operas). Sadly, much of his music has been lost, although the libretto (or lyrics) survive. Dafne began a musical art form that continues to this day in numerous languages and countless variations. From Mozart's operas in German and Italian (and one Latin!) of the 18th century to the operas of Richard Wagner during the 1850's and Bizet's French Carmin in the 1870's. The turn of the twentieth century found the introduction of American operas by such luminaries as Joplin, Kern, Gershwin, Copland, and later Glass. So, the burning question ignited by our opera-singing chicken is what song he would be singing if he had a voice. We cannot be completely sure, but we suspect it might be an operatic interpretation of the 1970's character made famous by John Wayne and re-created by Jeff Bridges, Rooster Cogburn.
ANSWER: D) 0. Unfortunately, the operatic skills of chickens seem to be limited and, thus far, none have achieved the status of professional. Here's hoping this will change. Real soon.