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Subject: Re: dramatically sound operas was Re: Wackiest Opera plot?
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 30 Apr 2010 09:32:39 -0400
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To which I would add most of Janacek (Osud remains a problem). The fact is 
that librettos function far differently than straight plays do--what can 
seem risible in a play can be enormously effective in an opera. I don't know 
whether Tosca is still performed anywhere as a straight play (although I 
doubt it), but in the opera it provides exactly what Puccini wanted and 
needed. It's fascinating to read the letters of Verdi and Boito or Strauss 
and von Hoffmansthal and begin to understand the difference in dramatic 
requirements between the two genres (and Verdi and Strauss's profound 
understanding of how to make an opera work).

Personally, I must admit that the libretto that will always seem silliest to 
me is The Magic Flute, but it too provided exactly what Mozart needed to 
fashion one of the greatest operas, and after a good performance I am left 
with no complaints. I would hate to think of it being set by anyone else 
though.

Rich

--------------------------------------------------
From: "James Bodge" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 8:53 AM
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: dramatically sound operas was Re: Wackiest Opera plot?

> Perhaps I got up on the argumentative side of the bed, but I'm not finding
> any humor or illumination in this thread of "Wackiest Opera Plots".  After
> roundly and truly defending IL TROVATORE Mr. Youngman dismisses much of
> Verdi (and others) as "silly".  Even OTELLO.  I won't ask why these operas
> push his or other people's buttons.
>
> I will say that a decent short list of operas with really good librettos
> would include not only OTELLO and FALSTAFF but also LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, LA
> BOHEME,  PETER GRIMES, BORIS GODUNOV, BALLO IN MASCHERA, DIALOGUES OF THE
> CARMELITES, BILLY BUDD, PELLEAS, WOZZECK, EUGENE ONEGIN and most of
> Richard Strauss. (I said most; even I am hard pressed by "the Omniscient
> Mussel".)
>
> and yes:  RIGOLETTO, TRAVIATA, TROVATORE and even BOCCANEGRA, TRISTAN and
> the RING.
> All make great sense to me.
>
>
> These works weren't written yesterday.  Styles change.  Opera was once the
> dominant form of entertainment in Europe, whereas today in theater, film,
> t.v. we see elements of these timeless stories deflated into sit-com or
> rousing melodrama and adventure/fantasy.
>
> We don't go to opera for the "ordinary" or "daytoday believability".
> Hell, I don't watch "Twenty-Four" for that.
>
> Jim Bodge
>
> On Fri, April 30, 2010 5:19 am, kurt youngmann wrote:
>
>> I don't need to defend this opera; after 150 years its popularity attests
>> to its merits. When performed well it's a thrilling evening in the
>> theatre. But wouldn't we all agree that at least 75% of opera plots are
>> fatuous? Boccanegra has been cited several times (and Ernani might as 
>> well
>> be also) as having a ridiculous plot. ===SNIP===
>> Many Shakespeareans have pointed out the silliness of Othello.
>> Does that keep the play (and the opera, Otello) from being great works of
>> art? I love Puccini; he's my favorite composer and I never tire of
>> listening to La Rondine. Its plot is preposterous but gives us a chance 
>> to
>> hear some of the composer's most beautiful melodies. ===
>>
>> So, rather than harping on operas with silly plots - most of the most
>> popular ones, like Rigoletto, Forza, and Gioconda (perhaps the best
>> example of all) why not submit choices of works with dramatically sound
>> plots? My bet is that it's harder to pick theatrically excellent plots
>> than silly ones.
>>
>> Kurt Youngmann
>>
>>
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>
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> Duct Tape.
>
> James Bodge  [log in to unmask]
>
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