Author Topic: The DRAMA in opera  (Read 8740 times)

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Larry Rinkel

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2007, 02:09:02 AM »
  Yes Larry I am aware that there are many books on this subject and I have recently started looking into these, but I am also interested in YOUR opinion on the subject.  Do you find that an opera must be seen (ie staged) to be truely effective as far as drama is concerned ? and to what extent does the visual aspect of it all add or subtract from your engagement to the drama?  For example many here have voiced their lack of enjoyement (engagement) of opera masterpeices that have "trashy" or "eurotrashy" productions.  Others claim that at times the music alone can set a "dramatic" mood without the need of the "visual effect".

  marvin

Part of my opinion is that Kerman's book is the best thing to read on this subject. The problem is that you're speaking about two separate issues: the degree to which the composer creates drama in response to the libretto; and the degree to which the musical drama is realized by a particular staging. The first of these, which is the subject of Kerman's book, concerns how the composer transforms an action by way of music, in which case music fulfills a function analogous to poetry in spoken drama such as Shakespeare. The second of these concerns how a stage director realizes the completed operatic work. I have seen so many eccentric, preposterous, and self-indulgent operatic productions that I rarely want to see a DVD of any production, as this only preserves the particular biases of the production permanently. Audio recordings, by and large, at their best do not suffer from the interference of self-indulgent stage directors. On the other hand, a truly great operatic production (the Metropolitan Opera's version of Berg's Lulu is one that comes to mind) is something you do want preserved for its exceptionally intelligent realization of each aspect of the musical drama as conceived by the composer.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2007, 04:06:26 AM by Larry Rinkel »

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2007, 05:15:47 AM »
The problem is that you're speaking about two separate issues: the degree to which the composer creates drama in response to the libretto; and the degree to which the musical drama is realized by a particular staging. The first of these, which is the subject of Kerman's book, concerns how the composer transforms an action by way of music, in which case music fulfills a function analogous to poetry in spoken drama such as Shakespeare. The second of these concerns how a stage director realizes the completed operatic work.


  A BRILLIANT observation and one that I completely missed.  Thanks for pointing out the differences between the composer's "hand" and the stage director's "hand" in creating drama.  I have a lot of reading to do. I love opera as a musical genre so much (more than any other genre: symphonies, chamber music, sonatas, concertos etc.) that I want to understand all its elements (music, drama, staging etc.) 

  marvin

Offline johnshade

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2007, 05:58:53 AM »

   I have a lot of reading to do. I love opera as a musical genre so much ...that I want to understand all its elements (music, drama, staging etc.)    marvin

Yes. It will pay great rewards. Reading about opera, the drama, and the composers is a delight; and listen, listen, listen. I have become to "know" many operas especially of Mozart and Richard Strauss.

JS

The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun  (Shakespeare)

Offline jochanaan

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2007, 02:37:38 PM »
Ideally, the poetry (most opera librettos include some poetry even if they're not entirely poetic), the drama, the staging, the acting and the music in opera should meld into a powerful, balanced whole.  But how seldom it happens!  And even then, it can be ruined, visually at least, by inappropriate stage sets or poor acting.
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Offline Anne

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2007, 03:38:11 PM »
Between CD, DVD, and VHS I must have 10+ performances of Boris Godunov so you know I really love that opera.  About 2 days ago I put a new DVD into the player.  There was Boris in a modern business suit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It made me feel sick at heart.  I couldn't stand it and removed the DVD from the player with great disappointment.

I should have known better than to buy it as a picture of Matty Salminen (in a business suit) was on the front cover.  Boris just isn't Boris without his gorgeous clothing from that era in Russian history.

Offline Anne

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2007, 03:49:06 PM »
I'd like to second Larry R's suggestion of reading Joseph Kerman's Opera as Drama.  I don't think there's a wasted word in the whole book.  He has some very interesting things to say about Tristan und Isolde among others.

uffeviking

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2007, 07:06:02 PM »
.  I couldn't stand it and removed the DVD from the player with great disappointment.


Sad you didn't stick with it! You missed great acting, great singing, great directing, and once you open your mind a tiny bit to new ideas - and don't call them Eurotrash! - you will discover the same great music only wearing a different costume. Try it, you might like it!  ;D

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2007, 04:32:40 AM »
I'd like to second Larry R's suggestion of reading Joseph Kerman's Opera as Drama.  I don't think there's a wasted word in the whole book.  He has some very interesting things to say about Tristan und Isolde among others.

  So many people have mentioned Kerman's Opera as Drama (Larry twice: once on this GMG website and another time on the old GMG website)  I had previously  placed this book in my shopping cart to buy later and have  now officially ordered it from amazon.co.uk:



  I do sympathize with Anne and her reaction to the modern adaptation of Boris Godunov.  Personally I find it hard to connect to opera productions (drama+music) if the production is not TRADITIONAL (for lack of a better word) uffeviking, but I am working on it.  I want to start exposing myself to different stage productions of the operas I love. I recently bought the following recording of Wagner's Flying Dutchman:



  This came highly recommended by a freind of mine and from what he tells me it is not a Traditional production but has twists and turns in it......he tells me it is visually highly dramatic.  I have not seen it yet and will watch it this weekend. 

  marvin

« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 04:41:04 AM by marvinbrown »

Offline Anne

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2007, 05:30:08 AM »

  I do sympathize with Anne and her reaction to the modern adaptation of Boris Godunov.  Personally I find it hard to connect to opera productions (drama+music) if the production is not TRADITIONAL (for lack of a better word) uffeviking, but I am working on it.  I want to start exposing myself to different stage productions of the operas I love. I recently bought the following recording of Wagner's Flying Dutchman:



  This came highly recommended by a freind of mine and from what he tells me it is not a Traditional production but has twists and turns in it......he tells me it is visually highly dramatic.  I have not seen it yet and will watch it this weekend. 

  marvin

Marvin and John,
Thanks to both of you for understanding my dislike of modern dress for historic operas.

Marvin,
I have that DVD of Der Fliegende Hollander and enjoyed it very much.

Offline val

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2007, 12:12:25 AM »
The libretto establishes the plot, the action, the characters and the way they interact with each others.

But, to me, the libretto offers silhouettes, nothing more. It is the music that gives life to them, that makes us understand their deep personalities.
If we read the libretto of Il Trovatore we find a banal story of revenge. But when we listen "Il balen del suo sorriso" we understand that De Luna is only a young man in love, who suffers from Leonora indifference. He is not a bad person, he is like his brother, Manrico. They are rivals in politics and love, that's all.

Much of the words said by Tristan in the 2nd act of the opera are pure nonsense or a sign of a very sick and depressed man. But the music changes all that: it becomes something almost mystical, a quest for absolute (or annihilation), and love and death become twins as in Leopardi's poem.

That is why even very bad librettos can give extraordinary operas. Aida, Daphne, Russlan and Ludmila, Sadko ...

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: The DRAMA in opera
« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2007, 12:40:43 AM »
The libretto establishes the plot, the action, the characters and the way they interact with each others.

But, to me, the libretto offers silhouettes, nothing more. It is the music that gives life to them, that makes us understand their deep personalities.
If we read the libretto of Il Trovatore we find a banal story of revenge. But when we listen "Il balen del suo sorriso" we understand that De Luna is only a young man in love, who suffers from Leonora indifference. He is not a bad person, he is like his brother, Manrico. They are rivals in politics and love, that's all.

Much of the words said by Tristan in the 2nd act of the opera are pure nonsense or a sign of a very sick and depressed man. But the music changes all that: it becomes something almost mystical, a quest for absolute (or annihilation), and love and death become twins as in Leopardi's poem.

That is why even very bad librettos can give extraordinary operas. Aida, Daphne, Russlan and Ludmila, Sadko ...

  A very good observation Val.  Now that I think about it,  I was (dare I say it) never a big fan of Verdi's Macbeth.  But Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's great masterpeices and you'd think setting it to music would instantly create a captivatingly dramatic opera.  However Verdi's La Traviata and Rigolleto as well as Aida have libretti that pale in comparison to Shakepeare's Macbeth and yet I could listen to these operas endlessly (some of Verdi's greatest works musically speaking) and I much prefer all of these to Verdi's  Macbeth. I guess you can throw Otello into the mix as well.
   
(I can't wait to get my hands on Kerman's book)
 
  marvin