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Subject: Re: Adorno on "Opera's True Object"
From: donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 2 Nov 2016 14:03:28 -0400
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I you were on good terms with the Wagners, (and who wouldn't have
wished to be?), you may have been privileged to hear the composer
himself sing and act all of the roles in a private performance of one
of his works at Wahnfried.  It is not an entirely revolutionary concept:
that of experiencing opera without theatrical trappings.  I was familiar
enough with the music of FAUST at the time, but no fully staged
performance anywhere could ever displace the vivid "rendition" Dr.
Edward Wisely presented one summer evening,  while the classic 1930's
recording with Marcel Journet played on his radio.  He did it again with
ANDREA CHENIER,  MADAMA BUTTERFLY, and even much of PARSIFAL
on other occasions.  All it takes is a perceptive audience of one.

Adorno's meaning is perfectly clear: whether composers expected it or not,
nothing can enhance or transcend the possibilities of one's imagination when
confronted by a work of art, especially in a world that has been transformed
in so many ways, socially and economically, as well as with the advances
of technology.


On Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 11:28 AM, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> And, something else to consider:
>
> Though I do think that approximately a century of technology has created
> new ways of
> both viewing and listening to opera, it's important to think about the
> fact that for the
> majority of opera's existence, such technology was nonexistent. In the
> days before radio
> and the earliest recordings (and, if I recall, a few earlier experiments
> with transmission
> using telephone technology), this whole question would never have even
> been possible.
> Monteverdi, Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Wagner, etc - NONE of them were
> writing with the
> concept that their operas could be somehow captured in time and heard on
> what we now
> call "recordings." The closest equivalency that they would have had would
> be
> arrangements of the music (by themselves or others) to be played outside
> the opera
> house (think Mozart's wind band suites, or Liszt's Paraphrases, etc) - but
> such use of
> opera's "hit tunes" would not be nearly the same thing as our present day
> ability to sit
> down and listen to a recording of an entire opera, top to bottom, with the
> full orchestration,
> etc.
>
> I also don't know when the idea of "concert opera" performances started,
> but I tend to
> think this is also primarily a 20th century concept (though it may have
> been done hear and
> there before that).
>
> So, however we value (and certainly should value) our amazing era of audio
> recordings,
> radio transmissions, and now internet transmissions as well, we also have
> to remember
> that the majority of the operas we hear that way were never actually
> *designed* to be
> heard that way. And even though I'm sure most of the composers in question
> would be
> very intrigued with our technologies now - not only in terms of *how* we
> listen now, but
> simply the very idea of "recording for posterity" would certainly be a
> revelation - I also
> have to imagine that many of them might say, "sure, listen to the
> recordings - but I really
> wrote this score to be SEEN in the opera house, and that's how it should
> really be
> experienced as a complete work."
>
>
>
> On Wed, 2 Nov 2016 12:56:12 +0000, Isaac Alan <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> >I think it depends upon which fragment of the facts you wish to believe.
> >
> >It has been truly said that an elephant without its trunk is not an
> elephant. An opera
> peeled down to music alone will of course function as music, but it is not
> an opera.
> >
> >Admittedly, there is little doubt that opera ceases to exist, either
> instantly, or only finally
> when the music is removed, but this places music in the same light as the
> elephants trunk.
> >
> >
> >An intricate work of theatre, is what opera is, ranging from quite a
> little to monumental
> depending upon the opera.
> >
> >There is no doubt that music is the backbone, and may even be the major
> reason for the
> existence of opera, but it is only complete as an art form when all its
> pieces, light, heavy,
> great, and small, are in place and working together.
> >
> >
> >Regards,
> >
> >Isaac Alan
> >
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