The Barber of Seville's Disastrous Debut (1816)

In 1816, Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini produced The Barber of Seville, based on the comedy by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. Though Rossini created much of the opera’s music in just weeks, it resounds with his brilliant arias, ensemble numbers, and famous crescendos. Still, several on-stage accidents and constant jeers from the audience, likely spurred by supporters of one of Rossini’s rivals, made its debut in Rome a disaster. What happened during the second performance? Discuss

Kurt Cobain (1967)

Cobain formed the rock trio Nirvana in his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, in 1986. The group’s second album, Nevermind, featured the iconic hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and was the first punk-oriented album to achieve popularity with a mainstream audience. However, Cobain railed against his fame in Nirvana’s next album, In Utero. Known for his self-destructive behavior and heroin use, he committed suicide in 1994. What tribute to Cobain is featured on a sign in his hometown? Discuss

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act

In 1998, the United States signed The Copyright Term Extension Act into law, thereby extending the copyright terms set forth in the international Berne Convention of 1886. The act increased America’s term of protection for copyrighted works by 20 years. Sonny Bono, a songwriter, filmmaker, and congressman, was a major proponent of copyright extension, and the act, passed nine months after his death, was named in his honor. Why is the act pejoratively known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act? Discuss

Battle of Iwo Jima Begins (1945)

The island of Iwo Jima is only 8 sq mi (21 sq km) in area, but when US forces attacked the Japanese air base there during WWII, it became the site of one of the most severe campaigns of the war. More than 21,000 Japanese troops and nearly 7,000 Americans died in the clashes. A photograph of US marines raising the American flag over Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi has since become one of the most famous images of the war. What was the US operation in Iwo Jima called? Discuss

André Breton (1896)

Breton was a French writer, critic, and editor. In 1919, he helped found the Dadaist review Littérature. Influenced by psychiatry and the Symbolist movement, he wrote poetry using the automatic-writing technique. In 1924, his Manifeste du surréalismeSurrealist Manifesto—provided a definition of Surrealism as “pure psychic automatism.” In 1938, he penned the manifesto Pour un art révolutionnaire indépendant with what one-time commander of the Red Army? Discuss