Monday, October 15, 2007

Modern operas

Sometimes I find blogging a tedious activity. I am bored with my constant tirade about the failure of contemporary composers to write singable music for their operas. Often they don't even seem to give a shit.

The way to formulate the idea correctly in your mind is to try to imagine a young up and coming soprano launching her career from your opera. Janacek can do it. Can you? If there is no big female role for her, then dump your libretto and pick something else.

It's difficult to find good bits from modern operas on YouTube. There isn't much to choose from. There is nothing from Saint Francis except a couple of rehearsal films, nothing from Devils of Loudun, no Henze to speak of.

My opinion of John Adams as an opera composer comes from "I am the wife of Mao Tse Tung", one of my personal favorites. It actually seems to be an opera aria, even a da capo aria, and is one of the most fabulous arias in all modern opera. I would accept more writing along these lines.

Listening to "Magic" from Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire I have to wonder why I always trash it. I think it was the lack of dramatic tension on the stage that bothered me. He seems to be at least trying to write an aria.

Here is a bit from Appomattox. It's fun Philip Glass if you pay no attention to the singing. I think his best are Einstein (for which you need to bring your sleeping bag) and Satyagraha. Both are in his trance inducing minimalist style and might require one of those necklaces for sleeping on airplanes. I did enjoy Orphée.

This is an excerpt from Osvaldo Golijov's St. Mark Passion by the people I heard in London. It gives you a flavor. I am totally turned on to this and hope he comes up with something this good for the Met. Dear Mr. Golijov, please give us something completely wild and don't be intimidated by the Met.

Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a popular favorite. I've seen a couple of different productions of this and it's very sexy. The subtitles are in Hungarian. The singing here is impressive. One can imagine a Russian soprano becoming famous singing this. Here is more:

Opera is a story setting for opera singers. Quit worrying about the significance of the subject matter. No one cares what the opera is about. They care about how it makes them feel. How about a Princess Diana opera? Or a Mary Todd Lincoln opera? Make her the whole story and give her a lot of arias and a full scale mad scene. She was quite bonkers, or so I understand.

Opera is like a chick flick. How about An Affair to Remember as an opera?

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