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Subject: Anatol and the Baroness
From: "William A. Fregosi" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William A. Fregosi
Date:Wed, 1 Aug 2001 14:48:12 -0400

text/plain (49 lines)

>James Jorden wrote:
>The Baroness' silence and Anatol's
>elusive charm are not intrinsically strong as presented in the music and
>text; in other words, it's up to the individual talent of the performers
>(and the stage director) to make something of these qualities.  In other
>words, it's up to the performers to make those plot points work; otherwise
>the opera just sort of lies there.

But isn't that the point about almost ALL roles?  The performer has to
inhabit the role, not just walk through it.

Otello, for example, is a dangerous part in just this way--and so is
Desdemona.  The tenor must make the audience believe, probably as early as
the first act duet, that for all the moonlight and lyricism there may be
something underneath just a bit "off" with this man, otherwise the
immediacy with which Otello gives in to destructive jealousy in act 2 will
seem wholly unmotivated.  And she must present a niavete' and
innocence--without appearing simpleminded--that will allow her to repeat
disasterously her plea for Cassio in the face of unmistakable, unreasoned
hostility on Otello's part.  Boito cut the first meeting of Othello and
Desdemona in the play where she pleads for Cassio sweetly and Othello,
enchanted by her, is quite ready to give in.  By that necessary act of
condensation, a big burden is placed on the singers and director.

Some roles are constructed so well actors may sometimes say that "the role
plays itself."   That may be true in one sense but it is never wholly
true--an actor or singer must in all instances develop a character out of
sometimes rather scanty material, maintain it consistently, and present it
to the audience with energy and conviction.  VANESSA contains several roles
that make an extra demand on the singers, that's all, not a demand they
will not have faced elsewhere.  It is a difference of degree.
These characters require a deeper period of analysis and preparation, not
something unheard of or unreasonable.

Bill Fregosi

William Fregosi
Technical Coordinator for Theater Arts     Ph: (617) 253-0862
Massachusetts Institute of Technology      FAX:  (617) 258-7149
E33-201   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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