The decentralization of the music business is progressing so quickly La Cieca can hardly keep up. (Though it’s not like she’s completely in the loop; as you know, she only recently found out that Giulio Ricordi had died!) The very latest (as of this morning) is that Apple has launched a new build of iTunes will full podcasting support. They promise that the search/subcribe/update/download/sync process will be as simple and intuitive as purchasing a song from the iTunes Music Store. La Cieca will test-drive this new application in the next day or two, then give you a full report on the functionality or lack thereof. In case you’re wondering, no, “Unnatural Acts of Opera” is not yet included in Apple’s podcast directory, but we’re working on that.

Another promising development is the partnership of Naxos of America and OverDrive, Inc. to provide downloadable classical recordings free of charge to cardholders at many of the nation’s public libraries. The best part is that the service is web-based, so you can “check out” a digital version of a CD from your home or work computer, then listen to it at your leisure over the next couple of weeks. The digital files then expire and are “checked in” for use by another library patron.

This process strikes a particularly resonant chord with La Cieca. Back in the day, when she was a lowly Opera Infanta on the bayou, she had no access to classical music record stores. The only way to listen to opera (besides those lovely Met broadcasts) was to borrow records from the Louisiana public library system. (No, dear, they were not 78s; we were well into the microgroove era by then.) Anyway, the library provided me with my first aural glimpses of Wagner’s Ring, the voices of Tebaldi and Callas, and, yes, even Blomdahl’s Aniara. What a boon, then, for the little queens of the 21st century, who will have immediate access to so broad a swathe of the repertoire, while staying within the law. (There will be plenty of time for them to break it later.)