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Subject: Re: Insipid Chenier?
From: Kenneth Wolman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kenneth Wolman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 13 Dec 2005 23:12:03 -0500

text/plain (44 lines)

Murray Schlanger wrote:

> Bob:
> I like Chenier a good deal more than most people. Being a baritone
> person myself, I cannot agree with your dismissal of Act 1. The
> opening aria for Gerard  that begins at "Compiacente a' colloquii
> and concludes with "E l'ora della morte" is an excellent piece, both
> for the singer and dramatically as a framework for the action of the
> opera as it is to unfold.

Right.  Gerard begins as a resentful, pissy would-be revolutionary.  By
Act II he's made it. By Act III he's lost and refound his soul, and he
knows it.

Maddalena begins as a dimwit.  The horrors of the the Revolution--her
mother's death defending her, Bersi becoming a whore to support her--cut
into her and darken her spirit.  By the time she catches up with Gerard
he's ready to let him "do" her because she is a dead woman who has, in
her words, brought misery to everyone who's loved her.  Why she falls
for Chenier proves it: he has his ticket out but believes in Destiny.
Right, to meet the woman who will get him tried and executed.

He does not change. He rants against injustice in Acts I, II, III.  In
IV he makes his peace with his fate.  But he has not undergone, or does
not appear to have undergone, the sea-changes of the other characters.
Presumably Gerard has lost his father on the road of exile.  He has
discovered blood-lust.

It is a hugely rich drama for two of the three characters.  If "insipid"
was the wrong word, "monochromatic" probably is not.


Kenneth Wolman

39. Not observing the imperfections of others, preserving silence and a continual communion with God will eradicate great imperfections from the
soul and make it the possessor of great virtues.
			--St. John of the Cross, Maxims on Love (The Minor Works)

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