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Subject: Re: carmen
From: Russ Geschke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Russ Geschke <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 12 Feb 2017 08:59:03 -0600
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Hi Kurt!

La Fanciulla del West was an opera that I not only didn't particularly like
but thought was a totally uninspired bore.  Back in the early 1960s it was
one of the Met's Saturday afternoon broadcasts, and one intermission
featured the accomplished, knowledgeable and formidable Alberta Masiello at
the piano droning on and on (or so it seemed) about all of La Fanciulla's
merits and beauties (yeah, right Alberta).  That reaction may have been
aggravated by the performance, if Minnie was Tebaldi (can't remember),
making her usual wild grabs for the high notes. (I do love Renata, but the
early Renata, before 1953 when her top notes began to go, and listen often
to her recordings of Giovanni d'Arco1951], Fernando Cortez [1952] and
L'assedio di Corinto [1952].)  Years, decades passed, I continued to
actively avoid the work, an attitude reinforced by the very negative
comments about it in Brockway & Weinstock The Opera (1941), although at one
point a professional musician friend and opera lover assured me that
"everything in that book is wrong."  Then, around 2012, while trolling
around YouTube I came upon postings of excerpts of what I had been told was
the legendary, classical 1954 Maggio Musicale performance with Mitropoulos,
Steber, del Monaco, and Guelfi, and so decided to check if the opera was
really as bad as I thought, and was just drawn into
it, listened to it over and over, the clouds figuratively parting, it was
"where has this opera been all my life?" and I haven't looked back.  It is
now probably my favorite Puccini opera.  Which is an instance of what a
difference a really fine performance can make.  It also probably has to do
with having more experienced ears, so that something that had no melody and
no appeal when I was much younger is now just the most beautiful, melodious,
brilliantly orchestrated, moving and captivating thing.

There is also a category of operas one does not initially particularly like
but that clearly merit further listening and study, leading ultimately to
true appreciation and enjoyment, e.g. (for me) The Queen of Spades.

Who out there dislikes, even has a hearty dislike of, operas that are it
seems universally loved?  (Has this already been a subject of discussion?)
I'll start the ball rolling.  La Traviata and Der Rosenkavalier leave me
completely cold, despite repeated attempts to "get it."  Ditto for Manon.
Also, despite repeated attempts -- reading through the text, reading
commentaries on the operas, listening attentively several times -- the merit
of some operas as music, as opposed to literature or a unified dramatically
whole creation, completely eludes me, thinking in particular of Electra and
Pelleas et Melisande; separate the text from the music and there doesn't
seem to be much there, just formulaic musical calculus (Electra) and feeble
suggestiveness (Pelleas).  And then there's Mefistofele, which wouldn't be
performed if its composer wasn't Boito.  (No abusive online bullying
responses, please.)

Russ Geschke


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "kurt youngmann" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2017 1:07 PM
Subject: carmen


Tastes change. Carmen is an opera I never really cared for when I was young.
Recently, all of a sudden, I realized that I do enjoy it.

Of course, my first exposures to the opera was back in the early 50s when
Risë Stevens was the gypsy of choice at the Met. I guess she was considered
quite sexy or risqué in her day but her sexuality pales in comparison to
some more recent interpreters. Probably the most blatantly sexual Carmen I’ve
seen in person was Denyce Graves when she appeared in Chicago some years
back.

Out of curiosity I ask if anyone else has grown to like operas they didn’t
particularly like all that much early on.

Kurt Youngmann

We have evolved to survive reality, not to understand it. - Mark Crislip MD





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