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Don't forget Mother's day. It's today and most markets have flowers ready for those who forgot.

On a run yesterday morning I was blissfully listening to my favorite music, opera, when Puccini's Madama Butterfly starts playing on my ear buds. "Oh, say can you see" is, of course, the opening refrain in that opera and it was lifted from the American National anthem (as I am sure most of you know). It is interesting that it seemed ok for Puccini to borrow liberally from another composer, yet his family has been trying to sue Phantom of the Opera composer Andrew Lloyd Weber for doing the same; which he certainly did, but that's not the point.

Composers seem to do this all the time and what the heck's wrong with reworking melodies anyway? As a listener I love both Phantom and Butterfly as major works of art. Phooey on those that criticize.

And speaking of criticizing you ain't seen nothin' yet! Check out this letter published in the New York Times that gives a view into what it must have been like for Puccini on launch day for his opera.

"...the first two bars of Puccini's greatest opera, ''Madama Butterfly,'' were lifted from the opening bars of our national anthem. They give Lieutenant Pinkerton his cue to begin ''Dovunque al mondo'' in Act I. And the chordal ''O say, can you see'' is used in later arias by both Cio-Cio San and Pinkerton.

When ''Madama Butterfly'' opened in Milan on April 1, 1904, the hall rocked with jeers, boos and catcalls. Puccini defied the audience: ''Louder, you beasts,'' he muttered, ''it is I who am right, I! You shall see! It is the greatest opera I have ever written.'' After some revisions, he produced it again, and it was soon accepted as a masterpiece. It has been reliably reported that the revisions consisted of deleting many lengthy phrases taken from ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' and leaving only the purloined opening chord for Lieutenant Pinkerton to slither down to his Seventh Commandment demise."

Wow! And we worry about a few negative comments?

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Paul McGowan

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