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Subject: Re: Voice vs. Gaze (was Fidelio etc.)
From: "William A. Fregosi" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William A. Fregosi
Date:Fri, 20 Oct 2000 11:24:28 -0400

text/plain (55 lines)

> When I replied that, in my
>opinion, opera was about singing, he merely told me that I was misguided and
>that his audience came for the production, not the musical performance.
>>I'm still so mad I can hardly type!  What do other listers think of this kind
>of situation?

I think that he may have overstated the case or stated it in terms that
seemed inflamatory rather than explanatory but that he is essentially on
the right track.  Before you write me off, please let me explain.

Opera is, and has always been meant to be, a TOTAL PACKAGE of music, voice,
acting, text,
frequently dance, and visual production.  The major "reforms" of opera over
the years by visionaries (Gluck and Wagner to name just two) have focused
on taking the emphasis off exhibitionistic vocal display and putting back
onto text and the projection thereof, dramatic values, and a strong
theatrical presentation.  I would note that spoken theater has gone through
the same processes: the tremendous importance of Adrienne Lecouvreur at the
Comedie Francaise (she of the Cilea opera and especially of the principles
she sings about in act one) was that she purposely walked out on stage in
simple dress rather than the silks and jewels that other star actresses
affected even when playing peasants, that she played scenes TO her fellow
cast members rather than out to the audience, and that she devoted herself
to the most direct and unornamented projection of the text she could
sustain within the theatrical style of her day.  Wagner was most assuredly
driven to create an new musical theater and a new theater for the music
because of his desire that all elements work together into one unified

As a theater/opera practitioner, I doubt that your company manager
dismisses the importance of the music and the singing in his productions,
but that he chooses to express himself in the manner you encountered to
stress the idea of opera as an art form that joins in equal proportions a
variety of communicative media, aural, visual, intellectual, and emotional.
Please let us know who he is--if it is as I suspect, I am going to bet that
his productions are compelling and that they serve the work rather well.

Bill Fregosi

William Fregosi
Technical Coordinator for Theater Arts     Ph: (617) 253-0862
Massachusetts Institute of Technology      FAX:  (617) 258-7149
Building E33   77 Massachusetts Avenue    E-Mail: [log in to unmask] (office)
Cambridge, MA  02139                                [log in to unmask] (home)

       I live through risk.  Without risk, there is no art. You should always
       be on the edge of a cliff about to fall down and break your neck.

Carlos Fuentes


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