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mothers in opera

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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....
Jenufa, one bad and one ineffectual one.
Magic Flute

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

Lots of opera with missing mothers.
Boris Godunov
Eugene Onegin
Turn of the Screw
La Fille du Regiment
Simon Boccanegra

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?


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. :)

Well, Luke, possibly an effective mother....though she merely sets the plot in motion by locking her child into a room.


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.


--- Quote from: knight on April 21, 2007, 12:06:49 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?

--- End quote ---

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


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