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Saturday 23 June 2012

Saturday Rave: Donkey Skin.

The story of the Donkey Skin was first written down in verse by Charles Perrault in 1695. It's basically the same story as The Dirty Shepherdess except that it involves, yes, the heroine disguising herself in a donkey skin. The reason for this frankly bonkers behaviour being that she's trying to escape from her father the king.

I wouldn't really recommend it as a story, though I must admit that it does feature a donkey that does golden poos, which is really rather a charming idea.

The other donkey skin story, however, is quite different. It's also told in verse (this time by Lorenzo da Ponte) and is a song sung in the opera The Marriage of Figaro. The music is by WA Mozart (what was Mozart's first name?Johannes. Second name?  Chrysostomus. Third name? Wolfgangus. Fourth name? Theophilus (which tends to get used in its Latin translation, Amadeus)).

I couldn't find a video of this song in English, but the story is of a man who is given a donkey skin. It seems a strange gift until there's a great storm and he uses the skin to protect himself. Soon along comes a fierce beast. The man prepares to be eaten, but the donkey skin smells so disgusting that the beast leaves him unharmed.

A good story, I think, and certainly very well told.

This is Kobie van Rensburg singing with the Koncerto Koln conducted by Rene Jacobs.

In case any of you decide to watch the whole of The Marriage of Figaro hoping for the donkey song, I ought to warn you that it's usually left out. Having said that, The M of F is one of the very most marvellous things that human beings have ever made, and very well worth your time.

It's funny, too.

Word To Use Today: skin. A rather horrid word, I must admit, and it's been the same more or less forever. It comes from the Old English scinn from the Old Norse skinn.


1 comment:

  1. Agree about the Marriage of Figaro and agree also about SKIN. Worst kind is on hot milk!


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