Author Topic: Opera n stuff?  (Read 1647 times)

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Offline jessop

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2017, 10:48:41 PM »
I couldn't disagree more...that might be the case for the vast majority of the operatic repertoire, which IMHO can merely seen as a good show, nothing more (so-so music in most cases, often ludicrous plots, routine productions too often), but in the pinnacles of the opertic repertoire, every component of the work has equal importance in this summa artis, including the "phiposphy or psychology" you mention. And I dare say that, because of this, works such as Figaro, Don Giovanni, Parsifal, Meistersinger, Wozzeck, Moses und Aron, Pelléas et Mélisande, and many more, are among the greatest achievements of civilzation...



This can be said of any work of art, literature, music, performance etc anyway, can't it?

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2017, 02:45:00 AM »
I find many of the posts in this thread completely mystifying. My collection is not as big as that of some, no doubt, but it does extend to over 2000 classical music CDs. A lot of it is opera, but a lot of it isn't. It ranges from early music, like, say, Masses by Leonin and Perotin, to the present day, with CDs of music by John Adams and James MacMillan. Chamber music and instrumental music is probably under represented, though lately I find myself enjoying more of it. I confess I still find much of the music of Berg, Schoenberg and Webern and their followers pretty impenetrable, so not much by any of them. I do have Karajan's set of orchestral music by the big three, but, though I enjoy some of the earlier works (Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, for instance) I haven't been tempted to venture further. Other than that I think my collection is pretty wide ranging.

When it comes to opera, though I would agree that opera is meant to also be a visual experience, I love recordings for enabling me to enjoy the theatre of the mind, without the intervention of some modern producer without an ounce of musicality in his soul, who seems to think he knows better than the composer and librettist. Admittedly nothing can quite eclipse the experience of seeing a great performance, in which all the elements come together, but going to the opera is an expensive proposition these days, and a risky investment. Sometimes the investment pays off, but quite often it doesn't, so recordings will often fill that void.

My opera collection is also quite wide ranging, taking in the Bel Canto,Verdi, Berlioz, Puccini, Mozart, Wagner, Janacek, Britten, Massenet, Dvorak, Debussy, Bartok, Handel and Monteverdi. Aside from Boris Godunov and Tchaikovsky, Russian opera is (oddly, because I love Russian orchestral music) under-represented, so maybe that will be my next avenue of exploration.

Mind you, I also enjoy quite a lot of musical theatre, jazz and pop. Does enjoyment of so many different musical genres make me unusual?

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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2017, 02:48:11 AM »
Interestinfg thread!

When I was about 14, Zefirelli's filmed Carmen with Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes-Johnson was a blast --- I've seen it on cinema twice on my own and a third time with my parents, whom I urged to join me. It was one of my first experiences with classical music --- love at first sight. To this day, it is my favorite opera.



That Carmen was by Francesco Rosi, not Zeffirelli. Zeffirelli did do filmed versions of Traviata and Otello around that same time, and live performances of Zeffirelli Carmens have been broadcast on at least three occasions, but he didn't do a film of Carmen.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 02:51:03 AM by Wendell_E »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2017, 03:34:08 AM »
That Carmen was by Francesco Rosi, not Zeffirelli. Zeffirelli did do filmed versions of Traviata and Otello around that same time, and live performances of Zeffirelli Carmens have been broadcast on at least three occasions, but he didn't do a film of Carmen.

Wooops! My memory starts to fail me. >:(

You are of course right. My bad.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2017, 03:36:34 AM »
At least one Amazon reviewer thinks that the Schubert Quintet is one of the most unpleasant things he's ever heard, besides Britten.  He says it has very little melody and much of it is pure noise (I posted this before):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RM8EG8MY37TDI/

I would assume neither you nor I are like the reviewer in that we can very easily distinguish Schubert's Quintet from noise and think it's full of melodies, but I think you underestimate the ability of audiences to absorb contemporary works, many of which (like those by Debussy, Schoenberg, and Berg) are full of great melodies as well.

I was actually refering to conservative audiences, of the kind ritter mentioned.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. - Romans 1:22, KJV

Offline Florestan

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2017, 03:45:03 AM »
When it comes to opera, though I would agree that opera is meant to also be a visual experience, I love recordings for enabling me to enjoy the theatre of the mind, without the intervention of some modern producer without an ounce of musicality in his soul, who seems to think he knows better than the composer and librettist.

And there is more to be said in favor of recordings: when it comes to deep reflections and psychological subtleties, the remote controller is a better, vastly better option than a ticket. Live opera is such a whirlwind that I doubt anyone watching [insert your favorite opera here] for the very first time will be able to properly discern and absorb them. People who go to live operas to look for them are usually people who have seen, heard and compared several previous versions and recordings and know exactly what to look for and when.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. - Romans 1:22, KJV

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2017, 04:02:33 AM »
I should comment in reference to the OP that I do enjoy opera of all eras (Monteverdi to the present) a good deal.  I enjoy listening to it, and I enjoy watching a good production (regie or otherwise) even more.  Monteverdi, Mozart, Weber, Wagner, Debussy, Berg, Schoenberg, and others wrote some (or all) of their best music for operas, and to refuse to listen to it would be to miss out on an important facet of their respective outputs.

That said, I do not consider myself an opera fan as something separate from my love of music more generally.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2017, 04:17:04 AM »
And there is more to be said in favor of recordings: when it comes to deep reflections and psychological subtleties, the remote controller is a better, vastly better option than a ticket. Live opera is such a whirlwind that I doubt anyone watching [insert your favorite opera here] for the very first time will be able to properly discern and absorb them. People who go to live operas to look for them are usually people who have seen, heard and compared several previous versions and recordings and know exactly what to look for and when.

That said, in a good performance and production, one's first experience of an opera actually in the theatre can be overwhelming. When I was young, I hadn't heard a note of many of the operas I saw for the first time,. Though I usually did some research into the music and plot before going, I generally hadn't heard any of the music. The Scottish Opera production of Der Rosenkavalier, which I saw in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with Helga Dernesch as the Marschallin, Anne Howells as Octavian, Teresa Cahill as Sophie and Michael Langdon as Ochs is something I will never forget, and, though I have heard and seen the opera many times since, it is that first performance that sticks in the mind.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2017, 05:35:49 AM »
That said, in a good performance and production, one's first experience of an opera actually in the theatre can be overwhelming. When I was young, I hadn't heard a note of many of the operas I saw for the first time,. Though I usually did some research into the music and plot before going, I generally hadn't heard any of the music. The Scottish Opera production of Der Rosenkavalier, which I saw in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with Helga Dernesch as the Marschallin, Anne Howells as Octavian, Teresa Cahill as Sophie and Michael Langdon as Ochs is something I will never forget, and, though I have heard and seen the opera many times since, it is that first performance that sticks in the mind.

And bad productions can give a negative influence.  In the late Seventies I saw a number of Met productions during their now defunct spring tours.  Lohengrin was dark and dreary, Trovatore uninspired and dreary, and I have never really liked either opera ever since. 
It probably did not help that that period was possibly the nadir of set design at the Met--usually just painted backdrops. The only exceptions to this were Chagall's Zauberflote, Zefferrelli's Otello, and Boris Gudonov designed by not sure whom. The rest could have passed for mediocre regional theater, not one of the world's great opera houses.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2017, 06:28:12 AM »
And bad productions can give a negative influence.  In the late Seventies I saw a number of Met productions during their now defunct spring tours.  Lohengrin was dark and dreary, Trovatore uninspired and dreary, and I have never really liked either opera ever since. 
It probably did not help that that period was possibly the nadir of set design at the Met--usually just painted backdrops. The only exceptions to this were Chagall's Zauberflote, Zefferrelli's Otello, and Boris Gudonov designed by not sure whom. The rest could have passed for mediocre regional theater, not one of the world's great opera houses.

Well yes of course the reverse is also true. The great pity is that each booking is a leap of faith, and I find myself less and less prepared to take the risk these days.

A friend of mine wanted to introduce her newish husband to opera, it being something he recognised that she loved, but didn't know much about. So she decided to book a performance of Madama Butterfly (normally a sure fire winner) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. It was a revival of a production that had originally been well reviewed, so she took a chance and booked good seats in the stalls at almost £200 each. It turned out to be a profound disappointment. Aside from the Pinkerton (I can't now recall who she said it was), the rest of it was lacklustre, dull, and totally uninvolving, the Butterfly not able to suggest for one moment, either vocally or physically the child bride of Puccini's imaginings. Her husband told her he was enjoying it, but what she was hoping for (an emotionally overwhelming performance) just didn't happen, and it's made her think twice about laying out such a large amount of money for anything at the Royal Opera House again.

A similar thing happened with me. I took my partner to see La Boheme at the English National Opera a couple of years ago, also usually a good first time opera. We ended up leaving at the first interval (which was actually at the end of Act II). We might just have managed to cope with the ugly, modern production, with its tricksy idea to have the two lovers shooting up heroin during their Act I arias, had the singing and conducting been good, but they weren't, and it was just plain dull, boring and silly. One can only assume that the producer didn't believe in the piece as it stood, which is when I ask myself, why did he agree to do it? Many people find La Boheme overly sentimental, and with some justification, but if you don't like the piece, then just don't do it.

When we got home I showed him the DVD of Baz Luhrmann's wonderful Australian Opera production. This too updated the action, this time to the 1950s, but Luhrmann obviously had more faith in the piece.  The singers don't have the  greatest voices you will hear in the roles, but all of them are believable and committed performers, and none of them is inadequate. Anyway, it worked, and so overwhelmed with emotion was he, that we actually didn't get past Act III, but this time for different reasons. He just didn't think he could bear to watch Mimi die. (OK, we'd had a few drinks by this time).

Still, it was a timely reminder that La Boheme can still work if you take it seriously.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 07:25:32 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2017, 07:20:53 AM »
Well yes of course the reverse is also true. The great pity is that each booking is a leap of faith, and I find myself less and less prepared to take the risk these days.

A friend of mine wanted to introduce her newish husband to opera, it being something he recognised that she loved, but didn't know much about. So she decided to book a performance of Madama Butterfly (normally a sure fire winner) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. It was a revival of a production that had originally been well reviewed, so she took a chance and booked good seats in the stalls at almost £200 each. It turned out to be a profound disappointment. Aside from the Pinkerton (I can't now recall who she said it was), the rest of it was lacklustre, dull, and totally uninvolving, the Butterfly not able to suggest for one moment, either vocally or physically the child bride of Puccini's imaginings. Her husband told her he was enjoying it, but what she was hoping for (an emotionally overwhelming performance) just didn't happen, and it's made her think twice about laying out such a large amount of money for anything at the Royal Opera House again.

A similar thing happened with me. I took my partner to see La Boheme at the English National Opera a couple of years ago, also usually a good first time opera. We ended up leaving at the first interval (which was actually at the end of Act II). We might just have managed to cope with the ugly, modern production, with its tricksy idea to have the two lovers shooting up heroin during their Act I arias, had the singing and conducting been good, but they weren't, and it was just plain dull, boring and silly. One can only assume that the producer didn't believe in the piece as it stood, which is when I ask myself, why did he agree to do it? Many people find La Boheme overly sentimental, and with some justification, but if you don't like the piece, then just don't do it.

When we got home I showed him the DVD of Baz Luhrmann's wonderful Australian Opera production. This too updated the action, this time to the 1950s, but Luhrmann obviously had more faith in the piece.  The singers don't have the  greatest voices you will hear in the roles, but all of them are believable and committed performers, and none of them is inadequate. Anyway, it worked, and so overwhelmed with emotion was he, that we actually didn't get past Act III, but this time for different reasons. He just didn't think he could bear to watch Mimi die. (OK, we'd had a few drinks by this time).

Still, it was a timey reminder that La Boheme can still work if you take it seriously.

The ENO should have just produced Rent and be done with it.
One of those Met tours had Boheme and Tosca done with cheapy set designs, but in proof of what you said, they worked brilliantly.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2017, 07:27:39 AM »
The ENO should have just produced Rent and be done with it.
.

It would have been a darned sight more enjoyable, I'm sure.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2017, 08:34:16 AM »
People who go to live operas to look for them are usually people who have seen, heard and compared several previous versions and recordings and know exactly what to look for and when.

In my experience people who go to Covent Garden and Glyndebourne are very rarely like this.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 08:54:30 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #33 on: May 02, 2017, 10:29:08 AM »
In the late Seventies I saw a number of Met productions during their now defunct spring tours.  Lohengrin was dark and dreary, Trovatore uninspired and dreary, and I have never really liked either opera ever since. 
It probably did not help that that period was possibly the nadir of set design at the Met--usually just painted backdrops. The only exceptions to this were Chagall's Zauberflote, Zefferrelli's Otello, and Boris Gudonov designed by not sure whom. The rest could have passed for mediocre regional theater, not one of the world's great opera houses.

Keep in mind that many theatres couldn't accommodate Met productions, so tour cities would often get simplified, or even entirely different productions from what was seen in New York.

BTW the "dark and dreary" Lohengrin you mention and the Boris Godunov were both designed by Ming Cho Lee, and directed by August Everding.
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Opera n stuff? GAG ME WITH ASPEN!
« Reply #34 on: May 02, 2017, 12:14:45 PM »
This can be said of any work of art, literature, music, performance etc anyway, can't it?
r
You'll notice that all the Opera Fans are mahhhssive Drama Queens, dahlingka :-*


I love it when they say, "Oh, so-and-so is just 20 years to old for Oedipus" HA!! :laugh: Who cares? THEY do!! :o


And the fact that "they" live to wade through warbled out singers, trying to catch a glimpse of heaven, always elusive with such a high wire act as Opera Singing... it's almost a study in Comedic Tragedy.

And then... ooooo... it makes me so mad >:D The ones who say, "Oh, I like all genres and Great Music is still the same whether it's Opera, or Chamber, or Symphonic..."

NEIN!! >:D

Opera is... "different".


IT MAKES YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT A TOTALLY FALSELY CONSTRUCTED SINGING STYLE THAT PERPETUATES ITSELF EVEN THOUGH EVERYONE KNOWS IT SUCKS!!

FACT!!

And!

NOBODY "SINGS" DRAMA. Drama is ACTED!!!!!!

That's why "Musicals" are even worse, because they mix the two in ways nature never intended. I had a film instructor at college who...


That's why Opera didn't even "make it" until The Who came along, and even they fucked it up somewhat. It became obvious that "sung drama" would contain certain elements, and that these would become rote:

Overture
First Cool Song
First heavy Song
Comedy Number
Love Song
Second Heavy Song
Second Love Song
Closing Epic


zzzz....zzz....zzzzzz.....zzz........zzzzzzz....zzzzz.....zzz....zz.....



Then there's Meatloaf ::)
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #35 on: May 02, 2017, 12:15:48 PM »
How'd you get the cool Pin?
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Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #36 on: May 02, 2017, 12:17:34 PM »
Keep in mind that many theatres couldn't accommodate Met productions, so tour cities would often get simplified, or even entirely different productions from what was seen in New York.

BTW the "dark and dreary" Lohengrin you mention and the Boris Godunov were both designed by Ming Cho Lee, and directed by August Everding.

They were quite different in lighting and everything else. Mind you the Boris was great because of the singing, especially the chorus.
But this this review of the 1984 revival of Lohengrin thought worse of the production than I did
https://books.google.com/books?id=YuUCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=ming+cho+lee+lohengrin&source=bl&ots=W0opmXOot1&sig=Vz58uF0KVz5mqzri00wpE6-I-vM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjal-uj_9HTAhXB1CYKHf16CsEQ6AEIajAS#v=onepage&q=ming%20cho%20lee%20lohengrin&f=false
"a cyclorama of Stygian darkness"
Another review in the Met archives said the lighting was "typical 1970s energy crisis".

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Opera n stuff?
« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2017, 08:29:25 AM »
Well yes of course the reverse is also true. The great pity is that each booking is a leap of faith, and I find myself less and less prepared to take the risk these days.

I concur in this, would rather take out a tried and true DVD, rather than risk spending largish amounts of money and being disappointed besides.
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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Opera n stuff? GAG ME WITH ASPEN!
« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2017, 08:32:08 AM »

You'll notice that all the Opera Fans are mahhhssive Drama Queens, dahlingka :-*


I'd say that is a caricature of a caricature.
"I write to discover what I know."
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