February 17 – Puccini-Butterfly, Secret Love, Duke of Earl, AC/DC

1904

Italian composer Giacomo Puccini‘s opera Madame Butterfly (having at first two acts) opens at La Scala in Milan.

Set in Nagasaki, Japan it’s the tale of a young girl whose love is betrayed by a US naval officer. A poor reception causes Puccini to recast the work, and it has a successful re-opening on May 28. His last, fifth revision (1907) is now the ‘standard’.

Aria  ▷Met synopsis▹ ▷NPR:100 years▹

1989 musical Miss Saigon is based in Butterfly; set in Saigon during the Vietnam War, it opens in London on Sep. 20, 1989, closing 10 years later after 4,264 performances. The Broadway version opens April 11, 1991 for 4,092 performances.

1996 Weezer concept album Pinkerton, which references Japanese people and culture, is named after one of the Butterfly characters. Recognition of the album’s quality took years to develop.

1954

US songwriter Sammy Fain‘s wonderful song Secret Love, in a button-down rendition by Doris Day, tops the US charts.

The song comes from the motion picture Calamity Jane, a musical Western (!) in which Day plays a title character based on a real-life American frontierswoman. It wins a Best Original Song Oscar.

In 1975, Tejano and country music artist Freddy Fender is the first to record a truly heart-felt cover; the bi-lingual version makes USC&W#1 on Dec. 6.

Now I shout it from the highest hill
even told the golden daffodils
And now my heart’s an open door
and my secret love’s no secret anymore.

Some day there’ll be a world where love needn’t ever be secret.

1962

US rocker Gene Chandler gongs US#1 with doo wop classic Duke of Earl, his biggest hit.

The song is covered in 1969 at Woodstock by Sha Na Na. It’s also heard in the Feb. 1991 comedy film King Ralph, sung righteously by John Goodman.

1967


The shelter in the middle of the roundabout

Brit rockers the Beatles release Penny Lane & Strawberry Fields Forever in the US as a double A-side 45.

They reach US#1 and US#8 respectively.
PL SFF

1975

Australian hard rock band AC/DC, formed in 1973, releases first album High Voltage in Australia only (where it makes AU#7) on the Albert label. Baby Don’t Go 

Two of its tracks are released (in part) internationally on Atlantic in May, 1976 on a comp made mostly of tracks from their second Australia-only album, T.N.T.

Third album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, released December 17, 1976 climbs to US#3. DD  Jailbreak  1977’s Highway to Hell, the last album to include lead singer Bon Scott, breaks the UK top-10 for the first time (UK#8).

The band’s most recent album, 2008’s Black Ice, goes #1 everywhere. Single Rock ‘N Roll Train is a US#1.  ( Website

See also: AC/DC discography

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