Author Topic: mothers in opera  (Read 19255 times)

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Offline knight66

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mothers in opera
« on: April 21, 2007, 12:06:49 PM »
During the Met quiz today, there was a question about good mothers in opera, are there any?

They came up with a paltry two. Butterfly and the mother in Cav. I would add Cornelia in Handel's Julius Caesar and Alice in Falstaff.

The question suggested that mothers were either ignored or evil.....I thought it was an interesting question. There are lots of fathers good or bad. Most opera is written by men, I would have thought some of them would have had a soft spot for the Mother Figure, but seemingly not.

Here are some operas with bad mothers....
Salome
Elektra
Jenufa, one bad and one ineffectual one.
Magic Flute
Medea
Trovatore

Hansel And Gretel have as ineffectual mother, Don Jose's is idealised...off stage. Oedipus Rex....well, what can I say?

Lots of opera with missing mothers.
Aida
Rosenkavalier
Cinderella
Rigoletto
Faust
Boris Godunov
Eugene Onegin
Turn of the Screw
La Fille du Regiment
Simon Boccanegra
Turandot

In all of these there could have been a mother, but for various reasons, they simply are not there.

Is there even one mother in all of Wagner? Just recalled Fricka with all her little Walkure. But just one in his whole output?

At least with fathers there is a balance of good and bad ones, but I wonder why there is such a lack of good ones in opera?

Mike

« Last Edit: April 21, 2007, 12:10:09 PM by knight »
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lukeottevanger

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2007, 12:14:33 PM »
The two most personal, meaningful - and poignant - syllables in all Ravel, IMO, are the final word of L'Enfant et les Sortileges - 'Maman'. That's not the flippant reply to this interesting question that its brevity suggests. :)

Offline knight66

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2007, 12:17:11 PM »
Well, Luke, possibly an effective mother....though she merely sets the plot in motion by locking her child into a room.

Mike
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lukeottevanger

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2007, 12:25:05 PM »
The kid asked for it... ;) But, still, Ravel being who he was, with the preoccupations he had, those lights going on in the house at the end of the opera, and that final 'Maman' to Ravel's favourite descending fourth - it's pretty primal stuff, in Ravel's own terms. She's a faceless figure, of course - neither a terrible mother or an outstanding one, nor really a character at all; but she is representative of archetypal Mother Figure - safety, security, love, forgiveness and so on.

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2007, 12:25:54 PM »


Is there even one mother in all of Wagner? Just recalled Fricka with all her little Walkure. But just one in his whole output?




The Valkyries weren't Fricka's. Their mother is Erda.


Offline knight66

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2007, 12:28:16 PM »
My error, thanks, yes Erda, mother Erda....can you think of any others in Wagner?

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
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PerfectWagnerite

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2007, 12:30:06 PM »
My error, thanks, yes Erda, mother Erda....can you think of any others in Wagner?

Mike

I guess Sieglinde is Siegfried's mother. She is certainly a "good" role.

Parsifal's mother, what's her name...Heart's Sorrow, gets mentioned a lot, but she has no singing role.

Offline Novi

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2007, 12:37:20 PM »
Ok, so Marie (Mrs Wozzeck manqué) wasn't the most exemplary of wives, but she was a pretty good mother. When she's not ogling drum majors, she's singing lullabies and telling stories. What more can a kid ask for? ;)
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

lukeottevanger

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2007, 12:38:33 PM »
Yes, I was going to suggest Sieglinde...

Interesting that in Eric's Opera (P+M) both parents are deeply ineffectual - symbolic of a stultified state, I suppose, in this case.

lukeottevanger

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2007, 12:41:07 PM »
Bystrouška's a pretty great mother...while it lasts.

Offline knight66

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2007, 12:42:27 PM »
Do we really experience Sieglinda as a mother beyond the embrionic stage. I don't think so....out she goes, but yes she is a mother figure.

Marie, yes, I had forgotten her, a good addition.

MIke
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Offline knight66

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2007, 12:43:56 PM »
I don't know that Janacek opera at all.

Mike
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lukeottevanger

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2007, 12:47:22 PM »
 :o

Actually, whilst we're at it, Mila in Osud seems to be a perfectly fine mother. She also has the distinction of sharing my daughter's name. ;)

Offline knight66

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2007, 12:51:43 PM »
Perhaps an Eastern European thing....why so rare that we are getting into relatively obscure territory? If we list fathers we would be here all night.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
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lukeottevanger

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2007, 01:00:14 PM »
Watch what you're calling obscure. >:( $:) ;D Bystrouška = the Vixen, if there was any confusion. She'll bite yer legs... ;D

However, if we're going to complete the set of Janacek mother's, there is the awful example of Katya's mother-in-law, the Kabanicha, every but as nasty a piece as the Kostelnicka in Jenufa.

Offline knight66

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2007, 01:01:29 PM »
Yes, I did think of her, but as she was a MIL, the behaviour was no more than to be expected. >:D

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

lukeottevanger

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2007, 01:10:30 PM »
Tony, have you stolen Mike's password? $:)

Offline knight66

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2007, 01:21:16 PM »
MIL....LOL

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Maciek

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2007, 02:52:33 PM »
Should I chime in about mothers in the output of the best opera composer ever? ;)

Offline squeemu

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Re: mothers in opera
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2007, 03:23:03 PM »
What about Prince Igor?
Marriage of Figaro?