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Subject: Re: Adorno on "Opera's True Object"
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 2 Nov 2016 11:28:55 -0400

text/plain (80 lines)

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, 

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.
>Isaac Alan
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