Author Topic: Music Drama  (Read 2242 times)

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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Music Drama
« on: July 17, 2015, 01:29:15 PM »
Well, there were no takers on my Gilbert & Sullivan question, which is a rather special taste.

How about music drama in general from Opera to Broadway Musicals to concert versions of both?

Opera started in 1604 with the production of Claudio Monteverdi's Favola di Orfeo, which took music out of the purview of the Church and into entertainment.  There's been no stopping it since, and we have several early composers such as Vivaldi, more developed folks like Weber (a forerunner of Richard Wagner), Mozart, Salieri, and later people.  Even Beethoven wrote one opera (Fidelio) probably because he felt he should show he could do it.

Of course in the 20th century we have works like the Three Penny Opera by Kurt Weil, and some other slice of life things by him including Cabaret.  And contemporary in America we have the Gershwins, and the Hammersteins who not only produced Broadway Musicals but also some serious stuff as well as some works that crossed over from the Broadway stage to the Met: e.g. Porgy and Bess, Candide.

Any discussion?
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Offline Nilla

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2015, 03:24:16 PM »
I am a music lover. I like most kind of music. Maybe I prefere rock and pop from the 1960s and 1970s, but I like classical music too, including opera. That´s no contradiction! ;D

In a little more than one week we are actually going to an opera. Not as old as Monteverdi and not as modern as Weil. (I´ve actually seen operas from both of them) but this time it's a comic romantic opera from Hector Berlioz "Beatrice and Benedict". It's not performed in an operahouse, but in the yard of  renaissance castle, not so far away from here. They play operas there every summer and we use to go there, maybe not every year but most. The atmosphere is the great thing, although the performers use to be excellent as well.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2015, 09:25:53 AM »
Sounds great.  The only music I don't much care for is heavy metal.

Your post reminds me that it is summer and one of my old outfits, the Canadian Opera President's Council will be scheduling the tent tour by the COC Ensemble.  The Ensemble is a kind of graduate school for opera that runs year round but has a summer tent series.  Some graduates you may know: Michael Schade and Ben Heppner.  I haven't done anything with that group since 1990, but it was great fun.

Being retired and something of a shut-in, I find opera broadcasts few and far between but I try to catch them all, quite often on one of the public TV services (I have four available on cable).  Usually they run one of the old war horses, but I like Puccini and so will watch any performance of his works as well as the moderns, romantics, and baroques.  I have several music channels (around 100 I think) and generally listen to the classical channel which  at the moment is running Rossini's overture to Cinderella.  I sometimes wonder how often Rossini retreaded that piece.

Of course, the wide variety on this classical channel keeps me from being too bored with it.  If it gets repetitive, I can switch to any other, including a selection of ethnic music channels which is a new feature this year.

So, have a good time at your festival performance.  What company is performing Mr. Berlioz?
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Offline Nilla

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2015, 09:56:30 AM »
How were you involved with that opera tour? Sounds interesting.

About the opera to which we are going: It is no special company. A new ensemble is formed every year. It was often young very talented singers from all Scandinavia. I have found an English site on internet.,

http://www.lackoslott.se/opera.aspx

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2015, 12:37:19 PM »
As a member of the COPC, I was involved as a $$ pit, effectively.  The membership at that time was $3,000 a year for a husband and wife and it included support of the Ensemble, some performances by them, working rehearsals of the main stage productions by the COC, and a few PR oriented receptions.

One of the neater tricks that this organization used was to hold art auctions (silent) where members bid on objets d'art from paintings to statuary (small).  These were usually well attended, and I still have a couple of small bronzes that I purchased by a local artist whose name escapes me.  I still like them, but I am sure the margin on them was around 500%.  In those days, we had lots of cash, and this was a worthy thing to do.  Support for the arts is very important to me.

The Ensemble evenings were very interesting.  It was at one of the performances that I saw L'Incoronatzione di Poppea (by Monteverdi).  An evening of Baroque singing, but as castrati were not available they had to use sopranos.  Every one of these events went in fairly early in the rehearsal hall (before the new house was built), followed by a nice reception that included the performers.  Fascinating people with the guts to take on such an excruciatingly correct performance.  Lotfi Mansouri was the general director of the COC at the time, and he is a very nice and extremely knowlegable musician.  You may have heard that he left Toronto for San Francisco and did very well there.  He was replaced by Richard Bradshaw (from Glyndebourne) who was certainly different.  It was about this time that I retired.
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Offline Nilla

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2015, 01:17:01 PM »
As a member of the COPC, I was involved as a $$ pit, effectively. 

That never crossed my mind. But of cause, you live on the other side of the Atlantic, and I ought to know that a lot of things are different there. I have the privilege to live in a high tax country (Yes, I know the correct meaning of that word privilege, believe it or not.) Culture is to a high degree financed by taxes, so that kind of sponsorship is more or less unfamiliar here.

I may confess, that in times that I earned a lot of money, I wasn't completely happy about the high taxes I had to pay. But if I thought about everything that's offered to us and that we more or less take for granted, like good free education, health care, social welfare, culture..................... it didn't really hurt. OK, I know, not every tax SKR is used well (I'm happy to say we still have our own currency, not Euro) but I still prefer it this way.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2015, 04:41:04 PM »
Compared to our neighbours to the south, we have a small population and a strong commitment to the arts.  That means private fund raising.  We do manage to have a few performing arts centres and many of them are only partially, if at all, publicly funded.  The Canadian Opera Company, based in Toronto, finally was able to build a new house but only in conjunction with the National Ballet of Canada, and they share the facility.  The main stage opera season, spread throughout the year in short spurts, is shared with ballet productions.  The main model for the auditorium was based on the Vienna State Opera with modifications to improve acoustics by the architect.  I didn't get to go to the opening series which was a complete performance of Wagner's Ring.  Sold out, period.

Other cities have important houses as well, like the National Arts Centre at Ottawa, which is also a ballet house, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.  The size of this country with the scatter of the population, keeping classical arts going is an ongoing struggle, but we do it.  Most companies tour because it is sort of a requirement of any grants they get.  Lots of excitement in the object cities, so we try to keep things in the popular selections. 

However, in Toronto I have attended main stage productions of selections like Wozzek, Lulu, and Candide (even Candide is pushing it in Goshwhattaplace, Newfoundland).  The Ensemble did Peter Grimes one year, and it was very well received despite some of the strange stuff (to many people) in Britten's score.  One year, the opening season production was Dierdra (Healy Willan).  It is 12 tone.  I've no idea what Dr. Willan was thinking when he wrote this.  At the time he was a professor at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. 

U of T has an Opera School in cooperation with the Royal Conservatory of Music at Toronto, and most Canadian singers of note have passed through these.  A notable exception is Jon Vickers (who passed away last week).  He was discovered when he was clerking in a grocery store, was given a scholarship to RCMT, but very quickly arrived on the main stage.  A strict Christian, Mr. Vickers refused to appear in productions such as Tannhauser.  The critics called him the voice of God.  I only heard him once, and I'll never forget it.  Florestan in Fidelio.  Sublime.  A definitive performance.  From all reports, he was very popular at Bayreuth after his debut as Sigmund in Die Valküre.

We may not have the tax load you have in the Scandinavian countries, but we have the income to support things that we like, and often do so.  More and more funding is now coming from estate foundations, but it is still not enough.  We struggle to keep the lights on.  So far, so good.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2015, 04:45:20 PM by A Nonny Moose »
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Offline Nilla

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2015, 07:04:14 AM »
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Compared to our neighbours to the south, we have a small population and a strong commitment to the arts.
Like us. We also hold the cultural values high. I live in the middle of nowhere. To our community belongs around 120 houses, about ½ of them are only summer houses. Less than 200 people really live here. In this small community, there is no shop but there is a community center, a small folk museum, a culture house, a museum for medieval building art, a cafe with an exhibition and a church. At each of them there are concerts, exhibitions, lecturers, work shops............ 

Now, in summer there are several events every week. In winter less but still something every month.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2015, 08:05:06 AM »
Completely understandable.  I live in a rural area where there is essentially no culture except a large community centre which is mostly used for meetings and some sporting gatherings.  However, just to the south is a major town (Exeter) where they just had a Bach festival.  Other good things happen there, mostly in the summer.  100 Km south is the city of London, Ontario which has the whole gamut of cultural events including a very good art gallery where I had one of my damaged oil paintings restored.  These people are very competent.

With a population of about 500,000, London is the main centre here with a large medical centre scattered throughout the city and attached to the University of Western Ontario.  I've only been in this area for about five years now, and haven't had all the opportunity I'd like to explore the area since I am without private transportation and the public transit around here is null.  I also have serious difficulty walking.  I do what I can, when I can.
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Offline Nilla

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2015, 06:03:14 AM »
Now, we were at the outdoor opera: heavy rain! But it was still very nice and the weather conditions were not unknown, so we were dressed appropriate and weren't much bothered. Besides there was a "sail cloth" roof over the castle court yard, so we were only wet on our way from the parking to the castle.

The performance was very good. My husband, who has a very good ear for music (much better than I) even found it great. To me that kind of music is a little bit too nice, too beautiful, too much harmony. I like it more with some kind of "edge". I want to fall from the chair occasionally, if you understand what i mean. But i also enjoyed the beauty of this performance and the skill of the singers. It's amazing what the human voice can achieve. There was one small young soprano (playing Hero if anyone know this piece "Beatrice and Benedict") who has an incredible voice. Her aria was absolutely amazing. Also the large ensemble parts were outstanding.

Well worth the trouble in the cold and rain.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2015, 07:50:01 AM »
I've never seen this piece by Berlioz, but your description implies it is very melismatic.  Considering some of the other works by this composer, it is not terribly surprising.

If you want to fall off your chair, you have to decide whether you want to be asleep when you do.  To that end, I could suggest almost anything by Richard Wagner, but especially Parsifal.  I've never been able to stay awake all the way though a performance.

On the other hand, if shocking performance is your metier, try almost anything by Alban Berg (Wozzek, Lulu I have seen on stage).  Also Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes).  These may keep you on the edge of your seat.
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Offline Nilla

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2015, 03:19:05 AM »
 ;D  ;D
No, I didn't mean Wagner. Somehow, I have the same opinion of his pieces than you have, too "bombastic"; tiresome.

Maybe you have heard also on the other side of the big pool: The German bundeskanslerin Angela Merkel is a Wagner fan. She was at the Bayreuther Festspiele last week and .......
fell from the chair. It was said the chair was broken! But we know better!   ;)

By the way; Two years ago they played Britten at this castle.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2015, 07:26:11 AM »
Interesting that Angela would be so exhausted from buzzing about that she would fall asleep at Bayreuth.  I suppose it was in the middle of some long passage in Siegfried, which is almost as boring as Parsifal.

Wagner's prescription to an opera fan contemporary was "Close your eyes and listen", but I don't think life was as hectic then, so people would be transported into the drama rather than to the land of nod.

One of the deadliest passages in Wagner is in Der Flegende Hollander when the Dutchman first meets Senta.  If that's love at first sight, it sure takes a long time.  This opera is interesting in that it starts out something like Mozart but Wagner's muse soon catches up to him.

In general, I like German opera.  A couple of my favourites are Der Meistersinger, and Der Freishutz to skip across the years.  I also like Fidelio in which Beethoven says "See, nothing to it."
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Offline Nilla

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2015, 03:57:52 PM »
So, you like Wagner after all. Or do you not speak from "Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg"? It was played not long ago in Gothenburg (the capital of our region) but it was something like 6 hours long and that's too much Wagner for me, so we didn't go.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Music Drama
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2015, 06:08:28 AM »
Of course I like Wagner.  The most important thing about Meistersinger is that it is mostly in the key of C major (except for the Prize Song).  Wagner used this opera to take the pickle out of one of his critics who complained about all the 'difficult' keys.  And yes, I will sit though a performance of the Ring even though it takes four days.  It is a mish-mash of the Volsunasaga and the Norse Myths.  Highly amusing.

BTW, have you ever heard Anna Russel's 22 minute condensation of the Ring?  Hilarious.  Did I say I also like music parody?

Currently, I am learning to appreciate Scandinavian composers.  My music channels have been running much Sibelius and Grieg along with some others.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 06:10:27 AM by A Nonny Moose »
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