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Subject: Re: John Cage opera (was Re: Boheme in English)
From: [log in to unmask]
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Date:Sun, 21 May 2017 22:45:36 -0400
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TEXT/PLAIN (62 lines)


On Sun, 21 May 2017, Mark Bartelt <[log in to unmask]>

> "Another new direction, also taken in 1987, was opera: Cage
> produced five operas, all sharing the same title Europera,
> in 1987-91. Europeras I and II require greater forces than
> III, IV and V, which are on a chamber scale."
>
> Have any of the OPERA-L gang seen this?  If so, what were
> your impressions?  I'd never even heard of it.

The Wikipedia article gives some basic information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europeras

The New York Public Library has nearly all of John Cage's manuscripts, and 
I had the fortunate chance to catalog all of them. I got to examine the 
original source materials for all the Europeras in detail.

It appears that Cage went to the Metropolian Opera library to photocopy 
instrumental parts to various operas.  But he doesn't use these parts in toto. 
Typical of his chance operations, he devised a method where he selected short 
fragments from various instrumental and vocal parts from (I think about 
10) operas. The fragments generally seem to last about 3-15 seconds.

Similarly with lighting, blocking and costumes - Cage used his chance 
methodology to select particular costumes, lighting and positions where the 
instrumentalists and vocalist are positioned.  The positions are determined on a 
carefully laid-out grid - like a live chessboard.  The audience has the 
opportunity to walk around and be part of the opera on this chessboard, 
with the ability to look at all the players from all different angles.

If this all sounds like nonsense, to me it immediately reminded me of walking 
through the halls of a music conservatory:  You hear bits and fragments of 
things that people are practicing.  Some are recognizable, some not.  The 
overall sense is one of a lot of energy expended trying to produce a product.  I 
find it very energizing. :)

Europera 5 is like the economical version: Rather than use instrumental parts 
from the Met Opera's library, it uses fragments of vocal scores from Wagner 
operas.

I found it all very fascinating and would like to experience one of these 
Europeras in performance.


Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
  Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; EXLIBRIS-L ; SoundForge-users
--- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---

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