What a very odd theme today! Four classic musical works cross-referenced with two or three words that, when spoken together, rhyme with the name of their composers. As in, the BARBEROFSEVILLE by ROWE SCENE KNEE (Rossini), or CANONIND by PACK ELLE BELL (Pachelbel). Two other classics round it out, and I am especially happy to see SHOW PAN in there, because, as I said a few days ago, my father has started doing the puzzles, and I do not think of or hear a Chopin NOCTURNE without thinking of him and his playing of them on the upright in our house while I was growing up. (Hi Dad!)
So... I guess I like the theme. It's musical and it's ridiculous - two good things. But there sure is a lot of it! How did the rest of the puzzle turn out? Well, let's talk right away about PEE, shall we? (Sorry, Dad!) I am usually a fan of these tricky clues (like last week's somewhat controversial "Need for making soap from sap" (ANO)). Today, however, the clue "23A: What makes ale pale?" is clever and funny, but I still have a little anxiety thinking about a PEE in my ale. Too much?
I love the trivia in 55A: One of 14 lands neighboring China (LAOS) and 32A: Grp. that once plotted against Fidel Castro (CIA), and we thought for a moment that a new clue for EEL had been created (59A: Prey for a barracuda), but I checked over on xwordinfo.com and found that this is the second time this clue has appeared. And speaking of xwordinfo (Hi Jeff!), you might enjoy perusing the list of prior EEL uses in the NYTX.
Overall, I like the whole tone of this. The clues are uniformly good, there's very little junk, and it's even polite! (40D: Word of good manners (THANKS)). It is, in my opinion, a very good debut puzzle!