Hinted accusation?

rossini-gioachino
Gioacchino Rossini, composer of “The Barber of Seville” in 1815

First a mere insinuation, just a hinted accusation, slowly growing to a rumor, which will shortly start to flow.

What began as innuendo Soon is swelling in crescendo; Gossip turning into scandal, Stopping nowhere hard to handle… 

Those lines were written 200 years ago for Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” illustrating how to use slander or calumney (calunnia, in Italian) to ruin a rival’s reputation.
pretty-yende
I saw the fabulous South African coloratura Pretty Yende in this opera at the Met today and couldn’t help comparing compare the aria The Art of Slander, sung by Basilio, to “alternative facts.” And to the Tea Party’s slandering of Obama. And to “fake news,” like what inspired a guy to bring a rifle to a DC pizza parlor.
Other writers have been noticng the same thing.

From the start of Obama’s administration, there were rumors he was a Muslim, not an American citizen, that he was a racist, and worst of all, a socialist. These rumors were repeated and used to fan the fire of the ill-will of people who were quite legitimately upset with what had happened to the country. However, the calumny was used to target a president who had nothing to do with what got us here, and it has been used to fan the hatred against him, disrespect him, and do the absolute opposite of what he’s trying to do to fix the economy. All in all, it’s quite cynical.

Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum all must have have taken a lesson from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. (From the Musical Almanac). 

This exciting production continues at the Met through February 11. Here are the complete lyrics and here is the video of Samuel Ramey in Rossini’s “La Calumnia” Start at Minute Two.

What can we do in the 21st century to keep calumny from being effective?

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