Author Topic: Samuel Beckett in Music.  (Read 691 times)

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Offline T. D.

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2020, 05:26:28 AM »
I just cannot listen to it, I know the play well enough and normally I like Kurtag well enough but somehow making this of all plays into an opera has got my back up!

I'm easily confused, but I don't believe Beckett would have approved of this, or even allowed it to happen. Didn't he react harshly (including court action) to productions of his plays that disregarded written staging directions?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2020, 07:34:52 AM »
I'm easily confused, but I don't believe Beckett would have approved of this, or even allowed it to happen. Didn't he react harshly (including court action) to productions of his plays that disregarded written staging directions?

They may have been following the stage direction -- this is the production

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ALFiOCXQUek&amp;t=1640s&amp;ab_channel=Gygovich" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ALFiOCXQUek&amp;t=1640s&amp;ab_channel=Gygovich</a>

My own view is that the Kurtag setting is less musical than Backett's text spoken by real actors and with silences. I also think that the unnaturalness of opera undermines the naturalness of the dialogue spoken, and that makes it into a less universal piece. I hate it.

Has there ever been a really important, great, play set to music without radical alteration? Nothing's coming to mind. I don't know how Berg's settings relate to the originals.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 07:41:58 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2020, 08:42:39 AM »
They may have been following the stage direction -- this is the production

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ALFiOCXQUek&amp;t=1640s&amp;ab_channel=Gygovich" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ALFiOCXQUek&amp;t=1640s&amp;ab_channel=Gygovich</a>

My own view is that the Kurtag setting is less musical than Backett's text spoken by real actors and with silences. I also think that the unnaturalness of opera undermines the naturalness of the dialogue spoken, and that makes it into a less universal piece. I hate it.

Has there ever been a really important, great, play set to music without radical alteration? Nothing's coming to mind. I don't know how Berg's settings relate to the originals.

Of the sections he used, I don't think Debussy altered very much the text of Maurice Maeterlinck's play, Pelléas and Mélisande.  I guess since I don't know Beckett's play, I focus solely on the music of Kurtag's opera.  But that is how I listen to all opera, only having a vague idea of the plot.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2020, 11:16:30 AM »
Of the sections he used, I don't think Debussy altered very much the text of Maurice Maeterlinck's play, Pelléas and Mélisande.  I guess since I don't know Beckett's play, I focus solely on the music of Kurtag's opera.  But that is how I listen to all opera, only having a vague idea of the plot.

I think it's the only time I've come to an opera play first -- apart maybe for Otello and MacBeth and Falstaff, but Boito and whoever it was wrote the Macbeth libretto clearly deviated radically from the Shakespeare to make it work as opera. I just happen to be exploring Beckett a bit right now, hence this thread. I'm not sure I recommend it, it may be more satisfying to just forget about the play, but I can't do that.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 11:20:42 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2020, 07:07:54 AM »
I'm easily confused, but I don't believe Beckett would have approved of this, or even allowed it to happen. Didn't he react harshly (including court action) to productions of his plays that disregarded written staging directions?

I have a friend who is a Beckett scholar, I asked him about court action and he replied by email as follows

Quote
There's a complicated ongoing history of Beckett (and then the Beckett Estate) not agreeing to certain productions because they went against his intentions as a playwright. I believe there may have been a court case, though I don't recall the details - more likely involving the Estate rather than the man himself.
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2020, 07:14:36 AM »
The Morton Feldman opera, Neither, is based on a short Beckett poem.

Quote
Composer and librettist had met in Berlin two years earlier with plans for a collaboration for Rome Opera, but in their encounter Beckett had told Feldman that he himself did not like opera, and Feldman had echoed Beckett’s sentiment, so that the work emerged in Rome as a setting for soprano soloist only, accompanied by orchestra. It could theoretically be termed a “monodrama,” but given the creators’ disdain for opera, the label “anti-opera” fits better.

If Beckett did not like opera, it is hard to believe he would approve of Kurtag's work.  But, it appears to have been produced at least once.  And I like the music Kurtag wrote.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 07:16:56 AM by Old San Antone »

Offline ritter

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2020, 09:35:04 AM »
It seems to me that Beckett, and now his estate, should understand that once his work is "out in the public" so to say, it takes on an independent life, and any adaptation to opera or film (or any other medium) is a different work than the original. If the author or his heirs do not wish the work to be adapted, copyright laws will protect them. Once the work is in the public domain (which I suppose is not yet the case with Beckett), there's actually very little they can do to prevent adaptations. In any case, I would imagine Kúrtag got the rights to convert Fin de partie into an opera.

Reminds me of the bizarre case some 5 years ago of a Paris Court banning the distribution of a DVD of Poulenc's Le dialogues des Cermélites in a staging by Dmitri Tcherniakov, because the heirs of Georges Bernanos (on whose novel the opera is based) objected, saying that it "denaturalised" the piece. The ruling was later overturned by a higher court, and the DVD is available. Georges Bernanos died in 1948!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 09:46:39 AM by ritter »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2020, 09:59:38 AM »
I’ll just mention in passing a problem I’m having appreciating Beckett the author. I seem not to have an eschatology gene. All these characters suffering because life’s so pointless, and I’m thinking, just shut up and have a party.
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Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2020, 10:03:42 AM »
It seems to me that Beckett, and now his estate, should understand that once his work is "out in the public" so to say, it takes on an independent life, and any adaptation to opera or film (or any other medium) is a different work than the original. If the author or his heirs do not wish the work to be adapted, copyright laws will protect them. Once the work is in the public domain (which I suppose is not yet the case with Beckett), there's actually very little they can do to prevent adaptations. In any case, I would imagine Kúrtag got the rights to convert Fin de partie into an opera.

Reminds me of the bizarre case some 5 years ago of a Paris Court banning the distribution of a DVD of Poulenc's Le dialogues des Cermélites in a staging by Dmitri Tcherniakov, because the heirs of Georges Bernanos (on whose novel the opera is based) objected, saying that it "denaturalised" the piece. The ruling was later overturned by a higher court, and the DVD is available. Georges Bernanos died in 1948!

Interesting post, thank you.

Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2020, 10:51:22 AM »
It seems to me that Beckett, and now his estate, should understand that once his work is "out in the public" so to say, it takes on an independent life, and any adaptation to opera or film (or any other medium) is a different work than the original. If the author or his heirs do not wish the work to be adapted, copyright laws will protect them. Once the work is in the public domain (which I suppose is not yet the case with Beckett), there's actually very little they can do to prevent adaptations. In any case, I would imagine Kúrtag got the rights to convert Fin de partie into an opera.

Reminds me of the bizarre case some 5 years ago of a Paris Court banning the distribution of a DVD of Poulenc's Le dialogues des Cermélites in a staging by Dmitri Tcherniakov, because the heirs of Georges Bernanos (on whose novel the opera is based) objected, saying that it "denaturalised" the piece. The ruling was later overturned by a higher court, and the DVD is available. Georges Bernanos died in 1948!

Even if a work has been published, as a play in this case, there would still need to be approval by the Estate for an adaptation of the play as an opera.  I must assume the Estate granted this approval, since otherwise it is highly unlikely that Kurtag would have gone forward with writing the work and La Scala would never have mounted a production of it.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #30 on: October 21, 2020, 11:44:44 AM »
I’ll just mention in passing a problem I’m having appreciating Beckett the author. I seem not to have an eschatology gene. All these characters suffering because life’s so pointless, and I’m thinking, just shut up and have a party.

I don't remember who said that for Beckett there was absolutely no difference whatsoever between a leaf falling and a bomb falling.

Thanks, but no thanks.
“Play Mozart in memory of me --- and I will hear you.” — Chopin

Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #31 on: October 21, 2020, 11:54:15 AM »
I don't remember who said that for Beckett there was absolutely no difference whatsoever between a leaf falling and a bomb falling.

Thanks, but no thanks.


Actually, that was Beckett describing what James Joyce thought.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #32 on: October 21, 2020, 12:01:53 PM »

Actually, that was Beckett describing what James Joyce thought.

Irish solidarity?  ;D
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2020, 12:07:19 PM »
Irish solidarity?  ;D

A Rumanian born philosopher E. M. Cioran recalled the following conversation with Beckett: the subject was Jonathan Swift and satire and he quoted Beckett as saying, "Joyce had no inclination for satire, he never rebelled, he was detached, he accepted everything. For him, there was absolutely no difference between a bomb falling and a leaf falling."

Offline Florestan

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2020, 12:13:23 PM »
A Rumanian born philosopher E. M. Cioran recalled the following conversation with Beckett: the subject was Jonathan Swift and satire and he quoted Beckett as saying, "Joyce had no inclination for satire, he never rebelled, he was detached, he accepted everything. For him, there was absolutely no difference between a bomb falling and a leaf falling."

The funny thing is, now that I think of it, I must have read it in one of Cioran's works (I have them all, I read them all), but I could have bet it was Beckett who was referred to, not Joyce. :D

Anyway, neither belong to my favorite writers, so there.

“Play Mozart in memory of me --- and I will hear you.” — Chopin

Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2020, 12:36:38 PM »
The funny thing is, now that I think of it, I must have read it in one of Cioran's works (I have them all, I read them all), but I could have bet it was Beckett who was referred to, not Joyce. :D

Anyway, neither belong to my favorite writers, so there.

Here's the link to the article that quotes the passage - the full text is behind a paywall, it's the best I can do.

Jstor

Offline Florestan

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #36 on: October 21, 2020, 12:41:16 PM »
Here's the link to the article that quotes the passage - the full text is behind a paywall, it's the best I can do.

Jstor

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2020, 12:48:10 PM »
I don't remember who said that for Beckett there was absolutely no difference whatsoever between a leaf falling and a bomb falling.

Thanks, but no thanks.

It’s nonsense. Beckett joined the French resistance, he narrowly avoided the gestapo.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #38 on: October 22, 2020, 12:47:01 AM »
I confused Beckett with Joyce. I've read that Cioran piece long ago and misremembered. Sorry.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Samuel Beckett in Music.
« Reply #39 on: October 22, 2020, 01:07:48 AM »
Didn't Joyce work to help some Jews escape from Nazis in Paris?  He was political to this extent: he was anti Nazi.  But I think it's probably not quite correct to say that the death of a Jew was, for him, no more important than the fall of a leaf.

And of course he didn't much like the church. I'm not sure what his involvement was in Irish politics.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2020, 01:11:06 AM by Mandryka »
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