Smoking my cigarillos, riding on a silver stag
January 14, 2017 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Have you seen Dave Malloy's musical Preludes? What's going on with Chaliapin's songs?

The Preludes cast album represents about half of the show's runtime, and the show is very structurally experimental to begin with, so it's hard to figure out what's happening. Or even whether I'm supposed to figure out what's happening, given that the tagline says the whole thing takes place in Rachmaninoff's mind. (How literally should I take that, though? Several songs seem to be set in objective reality, or are even sung about him from other people's point of view.)

I'm particularly curious about Chaliapin's two solo songs, "Ho-Ho" and "Loop." "Ho-Ho" is a nonsense folk song; "Loop" is sort of a controlled narrative of madness/ecstasy, and neither of them seems to represent Chaliapin's character in any literal or historical way. Does he sing them as part of the "Rachmaninoff's mind" conceit, in the role of a figment or aspect of his friend's personality? Are Chaliapin and Rachmaninoff noodling and composing together? Is Chaliapin just much weirder than I think he is? Or is this not meant to make sense at all?

(Bonus round: is there context for "Tchaikovsky's Child's Song"? I assumed Tchaikovsky was the "genius" Rachmaninoff sings about going to see in "Subway," but when I googled this I found a review that said it was Tolstoy, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯?)

I'm aware that everyone involved is on Twitter, but I don't want to trouble Dave Malloy or Or Matias to sit down with me and literally describe parts of their shows. They're busy with their Broadway hit.
posted by thesmallmachine to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
How are you listening to it? If you're listening to a stream or a download, the cast recording on CD probably has a booklet that includes a plot summary that describes how the songs fit in. Nearly all cast recordings do; I think Hamilton is the only one I've ever seen that doesn't. If that doesn't help, you could try asking Kurt Deutsch on Twitter or Facebook. He's the head of the label that produced the recording, and is really nice about answering questions.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:52 PM on January 15, 2017

Response by poster: It's been so long since I bought a cast recording on CD that that didn't occur to me! The iTunes booklet just has the lyrics, but there might be better stuff in a physical copy.
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:35 AM on January 17, 2017

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