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Subject: Re: "Mourning Becomes Electra"
From: DAN KESSLER <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:DAN KESSLER <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 26 Feb 2003 15:01:18 -0500
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Please excuse the "me too" post but I must recall with some irritation that
Martin David Levy opera, "Mourning Becomes Electra," at the Met in the
spring of 1967, which I recall vividly.

The premiere was exciting in that it was the stage debut of both Evelyn
Lear and Marie Collier at the Met, on that occasion.

Well, instead of Marie Collier's Emilia Marty, we got her Lavinia which was
a pity.  The opera was musically so very derivative, just like Bolcom's
efforts so that you did not discern the "voice" of the composer, instead we
got a hodgepodge of other composers efforts.

It is a sad comment on the lack of imagination on the part of NYC Opera
management that they would even think of reviving it.

I have to question as to whether the piece is suitable for opera.  About 5
years ago I attended a rare revival of the play as done by the Washington
Landsburg Theater.  They cut it quite a bit.  The original B'way play ran
from 1:00 in the afternoon, a dinner break- and didn't conclude until late
in the evening.

What we got in D.C. was a slimmed down version that started at 7:30 and
went on until midnight.  They cut many of the "Greek" choruses of the local
yokels who spoke in the vernacular who recalled the comings and goings at
the house of Mammon or Mannon, or whatever the family was called.  If you
ever set down and read the complete play, they are a bore beyond belief!

Poor O'Neill has some embarrasingly bad language in the play. Someone said
to him at the time, "You know, there are echos of the Greek tragedy in this
piece and you really don't have great language to go with it."

His response was, "I know, I do not possess that language!"  Pity! Some of
the lines were so poor and down right silly that they provked laughter in
the Washington audience.

The people in this play are hard to like and the audience has a hard time
in feeling sympathy for them but music could go a long way to make up for
that, but not the music that Martin David Levy wrote, in my opinion.

Best,
Dan Kessler

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