rebelboard.myfastforum.org Forum Index rebelboard.myfastforum.org
An offshoot of the old BBC BIg Read board, for discussion of life, the universe and recipes.
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   Join! (free) Join! (free)
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Opera Corner
Page Previous  1, 2, 3
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    rebelboard.myfastforum.org Forum Index -> If Music be the Feud of Lurve
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Raunchyducky



Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 246


Location: Merseyside

PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:04 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Last night was the first of nine operas from the Met being broadcast live to cinemas around the world with "Tosca". It was absolutely brilliant I have to say, with Marcelo Alvarez and Karita Mattila (Looking sttangely brunette for a change) doing brilliantly as Cavaradossi & Tosca, although the show was stolen by the Georgian baritone George Gagnidze as the villanous Scarpia.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 396


Location: Staines

PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last Sunday, we (i.e. the whole family) were at the Barbican to hear a concert performance of Verdi’s Otello, with the LSO conducted by Colin Davis. Now, some 6 days later, I’m still reeling from the experience.

As Otello, the NZ tenor Simon O’Neill stepped in at the last moment, and, given that this is one of the most demanding of operatic roles, stepping in at the last moment was in itself a heroic feat. He sang very well, with clean attacks and a splendid high register, and his final solo – “Nium mi tema” – was almost unbearably moving. However, any tenor singing this role will be compared with Domingo, who had made this role something of a speciality of his, and has recorded it sever times. It’s unfortunate that this should be so, as Domingo’s performance of Otello really is one of the greatest performances of recent times, and comparisons are unfair. But for all that, it has to be said: in all his recordings, Domingo sings with an emotional intensity that made Simon O’Neill couldn’t really match. A very unfair criticism, I know, but there it is.

Desdemona was sung by a Strauss specialist, Anne Schannewelms, who had an absolutely gorgeous voice, and who shaped the lines quite beautifully. And Gerard Finley as Iago (or Jago) was tremendous - every bit as powerful as he should be.

The night that I was there, the chorus was on top form (reading the reviews of the other night this was performed, the chorus apparently made a few slips, but last Sunday they were – to my ears at least – immaculate). But most striking of all was the orchestral playing. Colin Davis can be a bit dull at times, but not here: there was a demonic drive to his interpretation of this opera, and the orchestral response was terrific. They communicated the overwhelming emotional power of this piece quite thrillingly. What a range of sounds they produced!

And the piece itself…. What is the greatest of all tragic operas? Wagnerians would probably nominate Tristan und Isolde or Goetterdaemmerung – but then again, they would, wouldn’t they? Others many nominate Boris Godunov or Carmen, or Pelleas et Melisande, or Salome or Elektra, or Wozzeck or Lulu, or Katya Kabanova or The Makropolos Case, or Peter Grimes or Billy Budd. Worthy choices all, but after last Sunday’s experience, I would unhesitatingly nominate Verdi’s Otello. It is a work of such elemental power, that sometimes one feels that the musical forms cannot hold, that they can’t contain so much raw, naked emotion. Sure, there are moments of the most exquisite beauty and stillness, visions of heaven, but these moments were set against the most demonic of scores. The orchestra heaved and seethed and churned: the sheer visceral power of that orchestral sound was simply extraordinary. He very opening bar takes you into the Dies Irae of the Requiem: we are plunged immediately into a storm of elemental power. Hollywood producer Sam Goldwyn is reputed to have asked for a film that “starts with an earthquake, and then builds up to a climax” – and this is what this opera does.

It would be a fascinating exercise to write a detailed essay comparing Shakespeare’s play with this operatic drama by Boito and Verdi, but I don’t know I feel up to that. But when I read the Shakespeare play earlier this year, it seemed to me to be a drama about the damnation of one’s soul. (My thoughts on the play are still up on t’other board.) It matters little whether you see salvation and damnation, heaven and hell, in literal or in metaphorical terms: literal or metaphorical, that’s what the play deals with. And although the opera is very different from the play in many significant ways, the opera deals with these themes also. The exaltation and the terror that Verdi had communicated in the Requiem mass are here also, but in purely human terms: heaven and hell are what these characters carry around within themselves. Even if you don’t believe in religion (and Verdi was an atheist), the terror of damnation and of hell are all too real.

At the centre of this work is a musical depiction of Otello’s mind becoming unhinged. It is terrifying, and leaves you feeling drained by the end. What an extraordinary work!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
admin
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 547


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's always struck me that by having Iago sing about being a villain, Verdi undercuts the innate nihilism of Shakespeare's masterpiece. Iago just does what he does. We can speculate about why but never know. It's a device used by Richard III and even, to more subtle effect, by the great Edmund in Lear ~ Now God stand up for bastards! ~ who is not laying claim to villainy per se, but insisting that whatever he is is his own responsibility. But there is a chilling, psychotic aspect to Iago that no other character quite achieves.

Not that this makes the opera bad. Operas shouldn't try to be like the play any more than a film should be anything like a novel.

I can't really see this damnation of the soul thing in the Shakespeare myself. Then again I don't know it all that well, compared to others.

And musically for me, it's just overblown kitsch, melodramatic (and I can't stand that Requiem!). Not being an Italian, I am culturally unable to take any show of emotion seriously when it gets so ott. But that is a personal and cultural thing, it has no bearing on the greatness or otherwise of the work.

Annoyingly I was going to be seeing the play in Ludlow Castle in a few weeks. Not going now. Anybody want a couple of tickets?

But now, in my continuing quest to get a handle on this Italian mentality, I am going to record La Bohème off BBC4, while I go out for a Thai meal.
_________________
Dai Lowe, Manager
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 396


Location: Staines

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love both Othello and Otello: I feel very close to both these works.

At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, may I direct you to my blog? I have written there on Othello:

http://argumentativeoldgit.wordpr...0/03/14/the-bardathon-22-othello/

and here comparing Otello with Othello:

http://argumentativeoldgit.wordpr...om/2010/05/16/othello-and-otello/

I certainly don't expect to convert you my views on either of these two works, but for what it's worth... And incidentally, as you know, I don't see Shakespeare as being nihilist, and Verdi, despite being an atheist, wasn't a nihilist either. I do agree with you though that Verdi & Boito set out to create something new based on Shakespeare's material, and that in no way did they try merely to translate Shakespeare into an operatic medium.

(And the La Bohème tonight was really crap: if you really want to get to know this work, the best way is to listen to Tommy Beecham's recording, with the glorious Victoria de los Angeles and Jussi Bjoerling.)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Raunchyducky



Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 246


Location: Merseyside

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just got back from the Met Opera production of Boris Godunov, it's nights like this that remind me why I love opera the fact that literally 5 hours of your life just fly by because you're so hooked to the intense acting. Anyone who didn;t see it just seriously try and find the last scene with the peasants rising up and slitting the boyars throats, genuinely terrifying stuff!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mikeharvey



Joined: 20 Jan 2009
Posts: 943


Location: Blackpool, Lancashire

PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spent a very enjoyable time watching the DVD of the ENO production of Britten's 'Gloriana' made as long ago as 1984.  When this opera was first performed in Coronation year it received a great deal of adverse criticism.  It was described as being innapropriate fare for the Queen, and Britten's ability to rise to the grandeur and flourish of the period was questioned.  Watching this production one wonders at the criticism.  It's dramatic and moving, has much beautiful music and is a wonderful piece of theatre.  Highlights are the lute songs for Essex and the music for the Masque.   Britten has managed to be modern and sound Elizabethan at the same time.
William Plomer's libretto draws heavily on Lytton Strachey's 'Elizabeth and Essex', and the story of their strained but loving relationship is the backbone of the opera, which is also about Time and Elizabeth's growing awareness of ageing and death.  The opera is full of good scenes, not least the one where Elizabeth is jealous of Lady Essex's elaborate ball-gown, steals it and enters wearing it.
There is much eye-filling spectacle to delight the audience. The scenes in Norwich where a Masque of Time and Concord is performed for the Queen are marvellous, full of delicious invention and delightful dancing. And the scene in the streets where a ballad-singer sings of the fate of Essex is superb. And so is the scene at the court ball where LaVolta and a Galliard are danced.
This is a splendid expensive-looking production by Colin Graham with gorgeous designs of scenery and costume by Alix Stone.  There's a huge cast. Sarah Walker is superb as the Queen.  Essex is Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Cecil is Alan Opie, Raleigh is Richard Van Allan, Elizabeth Vaughan is Lady Rich and Norman Bailey has the small part of the ballad singer.
Strangely -  in Elizabeth's final scene her singing gives way to spoken dialogue over music.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chibiabos83



Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 575


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's one of the very few Britten operas that he didn't record himself, I presume as a result of the criticism it encountered at the time of the premiere. It took a few years, but I think posterity now judges it favourably. I think my favourite part is Act 3 Scene 2, which is the short scene with the gittern-playing ballad singer. It contains some of Britten's catchiest music. Willard White is the singer in the celebrated Argo recording with Josephine Barstow as Elizabeth, but I'm sure Norman Bailey is just right for the part. I must see the DVD - the cast sounds marvellous.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
admin
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 547


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to see the Grauniad is live streaming opera from Glyndebourne. But I couldn't stand their production of what should be one of the most life-affirming works in the repertoire, The Cunning Little Vixen (on now). So I've ducked out of that one.
_________________
Dai Lowe, Manager
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
admin
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 547


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just rewritten the text of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas as Murdo and Angus, a tragicomic tale of doomed love at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Murdo, a talented actor/playwright from the Western Isles is mounting his new play Burbage at the Festival. He has got the rising young star Angus to lead the cast and, later, to share his bed. Audience reaction on the preview night is ecstatic and hopes are high.

But the Critic, a bitter ex of Murdo's, wants revenge for being jilted. Not only do he and his band of reviewers try to sink Burbage with bad crits in the major papers, they also send one of their number, disguised as Hermes Lightfoot, thatrical agent, to lure Angus away with promises of the lead in a new Lloyd-Webber musical. Despite his love for Murdo, he can't turn down an opportunity like this.

A broken man, Angus decides to give up the theatre and city life, and head back to his old job gutting fish on the islands. The ever-cynical chorus sings a sad but far from complimentary lament for the 'stupid bitch'.


Full text is at http://www.lucidity.ltd.uk/Murdo.pdf

I'm particularly fond of 'Come Away, Fellow Fringers, Come Away', and Murdo's Lament, 'When I am Slayed in Print'.

Come away, fellow Fringers, come away; your shows need promoting
Though in bed you would rather lie dozing
With your flyers in hand, down the High Street you go;
Folks take them politely,
All promising lightly,
Though never intending to visit the show.
_________________
Dai Lowe, Manager
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Sandraseahorse



Joined: 20 Jul 2009
Posts: 213



PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been meaning to write about our trip to the opera last month.  My brother spotted a special offer in the "Daily Mail" for £10 seats to see the Glyndebourne touring company at Glyndebourne and he managed to get tickets for all of us for "La Traviata."  I've been to Glyndebourne before but that was 30 years ago so I went as much to see how it has changed. The new building is impressive although I am still nostalgic for the days when it was "the most luxurious village hall in the country."  ( By some fluke of the booking system years ago we once managed to get the Christie family's own box; what a memorable experience that was.)

The touring company's production of "La Traviata" was superb.  Irina Dubrovskay was Violetta, Zach Borickevsky Alfredo and Roman Burdenko Papa.  It is difficult to imagine how their performances could be improved.

My only quibble was with the set.  It was a contemporary staging - I don't have a problem with that - but the set was bleak and stark with a lot of red and black leather,  which reminded me of Austin Powers.  In the last act when the maid sings that she will let more light in, she pushed a wall which moved back.

These minor gripes aside, it was wonderful.  I saw it in the same week as I saw "Gypsy" so that meant I saw two world class performances for £10 and £15 (and the Glyndebourne tickets included a free glass of Prosecco each.)

Sometimes I feel I'm incredibly lucky to be living where I do.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    rebelboard.myfastforum.org Forum Index -> If Music be the Feud of Lurve All times are GMT
Page Previous  1, 2, 3
Page 3 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Card File  Gallery  Forum Archive
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum