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Subject: Re: More on Forza at the Met
From: Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 25 May 2017 04:30:41 -0400

text/plain (178 lines)

On Wed, 24 May 2017 21:06:50 -0400, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>This all might be better accomplished by having Alvaro drop his gun in the
opening scene, 
>and, as it accidentally goes off, it also manages to shoot major holes into
the score. 
>Whatever pages are left intact, no matter how awful the resulting cuts, are
all that is 
>performed. ;-)
>I'm particularly interested in how one would play the inn scene with
essentially ONLY 
>"Pereda" and the prayer. Without the context of the rest of the scene, I'm
not sure how 
>this would make sense in any universe. ;-)  (Besides, what would the point
of "Pereda" be 
>when that plotline/pseudonym never gets used again anyway?)
>I'd rather hear all of Forza, perceived warts and all. Taking a wild
unwieldy scalpel to the 
>score, as Mr. Riggs would like to do, only makes it worse than he thinks it
is to begin with. 


[G.R.]  I much prefer hearing Forza uncut.  But if the "Sleale" is
threatened with the knife at all -- as is fortunately less and less the case
these days -- then I'd far prefer the types of cuts I've described, extreme
as they unquestionably are, before even touching the "Sleale", whose
omission makes utter nonsense of the last act, not to mention the fact that
it happens to be one of the most inspired stretches of music in the score. 
Although such an omission is less an issue these days, I have heard one or
two revivals in the past 20 years or so that were still cutting it out. 
Yes, they were rare exceptions.  But sadly, this practice has still not
breathed its last.

Someone here suggested a mix and match of the familiar 1869 version with the
original St. Petersburg version of 1862 for Tamberlick.  That might be
intriguing.  The problem is, more than one Verdi aficionado of my
acquaintance, including our sorely missed "tenor monster" (Tom Kaufman) has
broadly hinted that if there are any Verdi tenor roles at all that just
might be as hard as or even harder than Otello, then it might be Henri in
Vepres Siciliennes and/or the original Alvaro in the Tamberlick Forza. 
That's how daunting the original Alvaro is!  The last tenor I've heard do a
halfway decent job with this role was Kenneth Collins back ca. 1970 opposite
Martina Arroyo  (considerably better, in my view, than the uneven Grigorian
in the later Gergiev set).  I don't know anyone who can do even a
respectable job with it in the last 40 years or so.


Geoffrey Riggs


>On Tue, 23 May 2017 00:31:06 -0400, Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>I might seriously consider, instead of snipping out sequences like the
>>superb "Sleale" duet (often a traditional cut but really essential to
>>making any sense out of Alvaro's recognizing Carlo in the last act:
>>"Don Carlo! Voi! Vivente!"), cutting the inn scene to the bare bone
>>(retaining Don Carlo's "Son Pereda" and Leonora's few lines of prayer,
>>thus making sense of Leonora's "La mia orrenda storia" etc. lines in
>>the next scene, but dispensing with most of the rest), snipping out
>>the camp scene altogether (yes, and I might even find some way of
>>cutting out Preziosilla from the entire opera altogether or just
>>leaving her a comprimario), and perhaps having Guardiano and Melitone
>>alone at the start of the last act with nothing of the soup kitchen
>>left in.
>>Shocking, maybe, though less shocking, I feel, than leaving out the
>>"Sleale", which is the peripeteia of the whole drama, but which was an
>>(outrageous) conventional discard in too many productions for too much
>>of the past century!
>>Well, if I was feeling really disrespectful, I might consider
>>something like this (and this is partly tongue-in-cheek): Start off
>>with the overture, followed by the opening scene together with the
>>extremely trimmed inn scene as the bulk of Act One. Then I might have
>>a full intermission for the soprano before the monastery, making the
>>monastery the first scene of Act Two, and then changing the first
>>scene of Act Three on the battlefield to scene two of Act Two, turning
>>Carlo's "Egli e salvo" into a cabaletta finale of the whole second act.
>>After a full intermission to give Alvaro and Carlo a rest, I might
>>plunge right in with the "Sleale" duet as the first scene of the third
>>and final act. After that, Alvaro and Carlo would still need a rest,
>>so in place of the excised camp scene, I might submit my most
>>tongue-in-cheek and disrespectful proposal of all: Open the next and
>>last scene with Leonora's "Pace" _prior_ to Guardiano's and Melitone's
>>colloquy re "Padre Rafaele" (sp.?) and set the entire act outside
>>Leonora's refuge.
>>It gets more outrageous: I've always felt that the bulk of Leonora's
>>"Pace" is some of the most sublime music ever penned, while the
>>"Misero pane" (sp.?) coda has always struck me as an awkward add-on
>>for the sole purpose of giving the soprano a boffo ending on a high
>>note. Moreover, this coda refers to a duel offstage that, in this
>>high-handed arrangement, hasn't yet taken place. Removing my tongue
>>from my cheek momentarily, I have to say that the words ending "invan
>>spero" right before this coda are, to me, set as a sublime cadence
>>that ends the chief melody of this aria on a haunting tonic, and I
>>have sometimes wished the music could close gently right there. Well,
>>fine then, let's end "Pace" right there for real, have Leonora go back
>>dejectedly to her hut on this quiet close, followed, after tumultuous
>>applause, with Melitone and Guardiano coming on and talking about this
>>"Padre Rafaele" (sp.?), with Guardiano and Melitone quietly laying out
>>Leonora's food as they talk. There is no doorbell for Carlo's
>>entrance, since he's simply stumbled on a startled Melitone in his
>>vengeful wanderings (this would snip out maybe half a dozen lines,
>>confining the exchange strictly to Carlo's request that Alvaro/the
>>"Padre" be brought over by Melitone).
>>The big duel scene would flow right into Alvaro's desperate attempt at
>>succour for the wounded Carlo, who would be stabbed right on stage,
>>followed, without a break (except applause for the duet), by Alvaro's
>>immediately walking up and knocking on Leonora's door, Leonora being
>>stabbed by Carlo right onstage, followed by Guardiano's entrance, who
>>would come on too late, running from the monastery right on stage, as
>>a result of Leonora's having rung her alarum bell as in the original.
>>This whole final sequence could be staged this way without cutting
>>any of the music.
>>No question that this means, for one thing, that both Preziosilla and
>>Melitone are now turned into pure comprimario parts. There is nothing
>>distinctive left for them to do. In an uncharitable mood, though, I
>>might shrug my shoulders and say, "So what?"
>>O.K., rant over;-)
>>Geoffrey Riggs
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