Music: Bmg's Birthday

Slouched glumly in his rehearsal seat, Rudolf Bing blinked at the unscheduled little scene on the Metropolitan Opera stage. An impromptu chorus of stagehands was standing among the singers, bellowing Happy Birthday to You, and looking at him. Bing recalled that it was indeed his birthday, his soth. He rose with a reflex smile. "Thank you, thank you," he said. "Those," he added wryly, "were the first words this afternoon that I could understand."

General Manager Bing had been listening to a rehearsal of the Metropolitan Opera's third opera in English this season. The first two, Fledermaus and Cosí Fan Tutte, were...

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