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Subject: Re: dramatically sound operas was Re: Wackiest Opera plot?
From: Jon Alan Conrad <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Alan Conrad <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 30 Apr 2010 09:35:47 -0400
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On Apr 30, 2010, at 8:19 AM, kurt youngmann wrote:

> But wouldn't we all agree that at least 75% of opera plots are fatuous? 

"We" would not, thank you very much. I beg to be excluded from all this gleeful sniping (I don't mean just this one response, it's the whole thread, and many others before it) at the form we profess to love.

There are certain operas that tell a story it's hard for me (and, apparently, others) to care about (Die toten Augen, Das Wunder der Heliane); and other operas with librettos so ineptly executed that a promising story fails to get across to an audience (Euryanthe, Der Corregidor). And such cases have paid the price: the works aren't performed, except on special festival-type occasions where the few who are interested anyway can go. And a lot of good music goes unheard. But good music, though necessary for an opera to work, isn't enough.

Almost all operas that have lasted do so, in good part, because their stories work in performance, and affect an audience.

And I'm not aware that "many Shakespeareans have pointed out the silliness of Othello." Some have pointed out that the time frame during which the events happen are, if one stops to parse them carefully, logically irreconcilable. But they also admit that if a performance catches fire, nobody (even those who have noticed the "problem" in the study) notices or cares about this while a performance is going on. GB Shaw did call Othello a "farce" -- but he delighted in mocking his betters; and though he's entertaining to read doing this, we're not obliged to believe him.

Jon Alan Conrad
Department of Music
University of Delaware
[log in to unmask]

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