Monday, October 23, 2006

End of Divas and Scholars

I am finally getting to the end of Divas and Scholars. Unlike the hundreds of books that recount the plots of operas, this book is about the actual work of musicians and others who create the operas we see.

I began by looking up every entry about Cecilia Bartoli and commenting on that.

Then I did one of my rants about natural horns.

Then I noticed he'd discussed a performance of Il Trovatore that I had a DVD of, so I did a review of it, trying to detect some of the things he talked about.

Then I tried to get more serious about the whole thing and wrote about the conflict between scholarship and tradition, the conflict between the opera as it originally existed and the opera as we have had it handed down to us and know from recodings and traditional performances.

Then I learned that there is a term for a theater that presents the operas one at a time: stagione. The term repertory I was already familiar with. I wrote that researsal space and time were probably the crucial issue in deciding between repertory and stagione, but I have since thought of another issue: space for the sets. In San Francisco they occasionally put sets out in the street covered with a tarp, but now the opera house has been expanded to increase the space behind the scenes. If there is nowhere to put the sets you are not using, you are stagione.

I commented on Marilyn Horne's place in the whole process of returning original performing editions into use, especially editions of Rossini.

I commented on the status of German vs Italian musicology.

I wrote about the effect on my life of reading this. I speculated that Rubini might have been a falsettist.

I began corresponding with Professor Gossett. I blogged this email exchange because he commented on my gossip about Domingo. I loved this piece of gossip. He admitted he is a friend of Vivica Genaux and that he had read my blog, facts that may be connected.

I was reminded of the song "Yesterday". Then I tried to explain the issues about French operas translated into Italian operas in a serious way.

I wrote about the changing weight of the orchestra in the nineteenth century, a subject of very great importance.

Then I called them all fuddy-duddies for rejecting the modern staging ideas and took it back here. Then I talked briefly about the three types of productions.

I started to write about censorship, but decided you would need to read about it for yourself.

I liked it that Philip Gossett wrote himself into the story. In fact I liked it all and will miss it. It is an autobiography in music.

It has made me realize how much I miss the life of music, my life's one true passion. Blogging helps, but it's not enough.

1 comment:

Paul said...

I'm eminently grateful to you for introducing me to Gossett's book. I've nearly reached the end as well, and I'll be sad when it's finished. I'd already planned to write a review and post it on my blog - and have even sketched out a few sections - but I'm afraid I'll be forced to write too much, thanks to the sheer fulsomeness of the story. I'll figure out some middle ground, I imagine.