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Subject: Re: "Superficial Allegiances"
From: Hermine Stover <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Hermine Stover <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 28 Jun 2017 20:39:06 -0700
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At 08:46 PM 6/27/2017, Jon Goldberg wrote:
>Roger Sessions? ROGER SESSIONS??? I've heard 
>"Montezuma" - and that's all I'll say. He
>was not a successful opera composer in any way, 
>and certainly not someone from who I
>would have sought opinions on opera. I'm betting 
>that JEFF Sessions probably knows more
>about opera (Russian opera in particular, I'm sure) than Roger ever did.


I saw Roger Session's Montezuma under Sarah 
Caldwell, and it is a difficult thing to 
describe, but I will give it a try. WHEREAS I am 
pleased to have seen and heard it, there is 
nothing I would not to never see and hear it 
again. I was introduced to Mr Sessions whose face 
lit up like a nuclear weapon and in shaking my 
hand, he squeezed it so hard that a finger 
adjacent to a ring. BLED. I have a pal who took 
piano lessons from Sessions and did verify that he had very strong hands.

hermine


>As for the rest of this...well, I am a musician 
>and a teacher of music, and I do enjoy
>musical analysis as a potential way of 
>furthering one's enjoyment and understanding of a
>piece of music. But there comes a point when all 
>academic talk becomes nothing but
>snooty, uppity verbal diarrhea, and that the 
>truest way of really getting to the heart and
>the soul and the life of a musical work is to 
>hear it. Not to study it so much as to simply let
>the sounds affect us. Music is meant to be 
>celebrated and enjoyed and felt, above all else.
>Not run into the ground with self-important 
>verbose sermonizing. That kills it.
>
>So, I think it's time for me, and really all of 
>us, to ultimately and finally stop reading your
>endless superficial gobbledygook quotes from 
>stuffy constipated academics, and call it a
>night. And boy, will I sleep well.
>
>Buona notte.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>On Tue, 27 Jun 2017 23:07:52 -0400, Genevieve Castle Room
><[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> >Jon,
> >
> >>You tend to live in a bubble where you think that opera has to take a lot
> >of WORK and "immersion" to appreciate.
> >
> >
> >Yes, basically that's right. I am also in general agreement with Roger
> >Sessions.
> >
> >
> >>"But all of the arts are products of immense human effort, to which, along
> >with many others, men of transcendent genius here contributed the best of
> >their lives; and the result is that they ultimately demand of those who
> >care for them the fullest attention and awareness if we are adequately to
> >receive what they have to convey. From this point of view the goal must
> >be.... awareness of everything that is there"
> >
> >
> >Coming to an "awareness of everything that is there" would of course employ
> >several modes of listening (i.e. 'synoptic comprehension') and this for me
> >is a type of 'exertion'.
> >
> >I also like this précis by Lawrence Kramer even though it consists of a
> >series of truisms of the sort that one can find in books of quotations
> >about music.
> >
> >
> >>"Since classical music as a genre -- in the widest sense -- is often seen
> >as not compatible with modernity (whatever that may mean), classical
> >concerts are sometimes 'sold' with the reassuring information that what
> >audiences are going to hear, is exciting, fun, hip and the best
> >entertainment choice within the wide range of contemporary free time
> >spending. The idea is, that this approach will draw new listeners to the
> >art form. But classical music is not  entertainment (although entertainment
> >is often a part of it) but an art form that addresses interior awareness.
> >It can be exciting, yes, and engaging, and wild, as well as reflective,
> >meditative or spiritual. But it addresses the listener's INTERIORITY, his
> >inner emotional and reflective life [....] All music trains the ear to hear
> >it properly, but classical music trains the ear to hear with *a peculiar
> >acuity*. It wants to be explored, not just heard. It "trains" the ear in
> >the sense of pointing, seeking: it trains both the body's ear and the
> >mind's to hearken, to attend closely, to listen deeply, as one wants to
> >listen to something not to be missed: a secret disclosed, a voice that
> >enchants or warns or soothes or understands. This kind of listening is done
> >not with the ear but with the whole person. It is not the result of
> >learning a technique (the stuff of the "music-appreciation racket"), but of
> >adopting an attitude. It is not a passive submission to the music but an
> >active engagement with it, a meeting of our ability to become absorbed --
> >sometimes for just a few moments or even less, sometimes for hours on end
> >-- with the music's capacity to absorb us. In attending to classical music,
> >we also *tend* it: we tend to it and tend toward it, we adopt and argue
> >with its way of moving and being. We dwell on it by dwelling in it. We
> >don't simply realize something *about* it; we *realize* the music in a more
> >primary sense: we give it realization, as one realizes a plan or vision or
> >a desire"
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >--------------------
> >
> >On Saturday, June 24, 2017, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> >> I think you're putting words into Tomlinson's mouth. I don't see "serious
> >> art connoisseurs"
> >> anywhere in the quote you posted. Those are YOUR words. I wouldn't assume
> >> that's who
> >> he's talking about, unless that's somewhere else in a part you didn't
> >> quote.
> >>
> >> A lot of people, opera/theatre lovers or not, are not serious art
> >> connoisseurs. You tend to
> >> live in a bubble where you think that opera has to take a lot of
> >> WORKWORKWORK and
> >> "immersion" to appreciate. Most people aren't like that. Most people also
> >> like all sorts of
> >> other things in addition to music or fine arts.
> >>
> >> I *did* mention Shakespeare (at least in terms of soliloquy). And of
> >> course there are
> >> plenty of other spoken plays in verse or meter - look at Moliere, for
> >> instance. Or even The
> >> Fantasticks (much of which is in verse). The trick for the actor, of
> >> course, is to let the
> >> meter or rhyme work on its own merits but not to call undue attention to
> >> it. A Shakespeare
> >> performance that was just all "ba-DUM ba-DUM 
> ba-DUM ba-DUM ba DUM" would be
> >> tedious and amateur indeed. As much as the meter is there, an expert actor
> >> knows how to
> >> make it seem that it's not.
> >>
> >> But, really, it all comes down to a well-known phrase, "suspension of
> >> disbelief." No matter
> >> how we come to it as theatregoers of any sort, we all experience that -
> >> one minute we're
> >> sitting in a theatre seat, reading the program and waiting for the lights
> >> to go down, and the
> >> next we're transported to a story presented to us - we're never really
> >> aware that it's not a
> >> rehearsed experience in a theatre, but we do most often allow ourselves to
> >> get caught up
> >> in it. But it's one thing to watch people speak onstage, just as we do in
> >> real life ("as 'twere
> >> the mirror up to nature" - Hamlet) - I do think it does take more
> >> "suspension of disbelief"
> >> to accept singing in place of that, or in addition to that. Some of us
> >> can, and gladly do,
> >> suspend our disbelief that far, and love it. Some people find that a
> >> harder task. That's all.
> >> It has nothing to do with being a "connoisseur" of anything. It just has
> >> to do with allowing
> >> your imagination take you somewhere wonderful. (Or somewhere not so
> >> wonderful,
> >> depending on the plot, lol.)
> >>
> >> And I think if you have a problem with your dear "Gary," take it up with
> >> him, not with us.
> >> (Though I wouldn't be surprised if you already have lol.)
> >>
> >>
> >> On Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:10:49 -0400, Genevieve Castle Room
> >> <[log in to unmask] <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >>
> >> >Jon,
> >> >
> >> >>"Mr. Tomlinson is absolutely right. For better or worse"
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >No, that's just Gary being Gary. He's trying to talk himself into writing
> >> >on opera without guilt.
> >> >
> >> >Gary, like so many others, believes it takes a leap of imagination to
> >> >accept a dramatic work that is sung instead of spoken. Shakespeare often
> >> >wrote his plays in iambic pentameter. They're poetry really. In real life
> >> >who would ever speak in poetry? That's as ridiculous as opera and really
> >> >takes a leap of imagination. Yet how many serious art connoisseurs have
> >> >called into question the validity of Shakespeare's dramas because their
> >> >dialogue is spoken in poetry?
> >> >
> >> >Drama can be danced, sung, spoken in poetry, and even be given in sign
> >> >language. One other factor that may be a little distantly removed from
> >> this
> >> >subject but still related is that films typically have a music score. Is
> >> it
> >> >ridiculous to watch a drama on TV or at the theater or on video in which
> >> >music accompanies spoken dialogue and action scenes?
> >> >
> >> >There are lots of imagination that people have taken which haven't
> >> actually
> >> >turned out to be leaps at all but something akin to baby steps instead.
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >---------------
> >> >
> >> >On Friday, June 23, 2017, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]
> >> <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >> >
> >> >> Mr. Tomlinson is absolutely right. For better or worse.
> >> >>
> >> >> Opera and musical theatre alike - many people who claim not to like the
> >> >> forms point to the
> >> >> fact that "people don't just break out into song in real life." They
> >> can't
> >> >> bring themselves to
> >> >> accept that such use of sung 
> expression/sung thought is a viable form of
> >> >> purely theatrical
> >> >> language. I tend to think that, more than just the singing itself, it's
> >> >> the unabashed size and
> >> >> scope of that expression. Particularly in American society, where as a
> >> >> culture, singing as a
> >> >> form of public expression is not valued. I think people tend to be
> >> >> embarrassed by someone
> >> >> "breaking into song" - so it's easy to transform that even to a stage
> >> >> performance and feel
> >> >> that the event is too "melodramatic" (in a negative way).
> >> >>
> >> >> I would imagine that for many people it's the same with, say, a
> >> >> Shakespeare soliloquy.
> >> >> When characters stop "naturally" 
> interacting and speaking to each other,
> >> >> and one
> >> >> character stops to address the audience directly in that "poetic"
> >> >> language, I tend to think
> >> >> some people see it as being an unnatural moment, too lofty and
> >> artificial.
> >> >> In many ways
> >> >> that's the equivalent of an operatic aria, or a solo turn in a musical.
> >> >>
> >> >> We who love these art forms understand, and in fact, live for, those
> >> >> moments where the
> >> >> human singing voice gives us a heightened, ultra-dramatic sense of
> >> >> emotional outpouring.
> >> >> And I'd like to say that really most people love that kind of moment in
> >> >> *some* form and
> >> >> venue - hearing a dynamic rock singer seem to bare his or her soul
> >> singing
> >> >> their songs is
> >> >> really no different - and a good many rock performers have made sure,
> >> >> through
> >> >> sophisticated lighting, pyrotechnic effects, and eye-popping outfits,
> >> etc
> >> >> - that their "show"
> >> >> is just as "theatrical" as an opera, lol. But somehow, for many people,
> >> >> there's a huge
> >> >> difference between the raw directness of a popular singer doing this in
> >> >> concert, and the
> >> >> more "refined" situation of characters on a stage warbling their
> >> emotions
> >> >> in song. While I
> >> >> don't agree that the distinction has to be there, I do understand why
> >> some
> >> >> people feel that
> >> >> difference.
> >> >>
> >> >> I still remember, as an elementary school 
> student, going on a field trip
> >> >> to see the film of
> >> >> "1776" - an entertaining but educational supplement to classwork on the
> >> >> Revolutionary
> >> >> era. When a song started, you could hear some predictable groans or
> >> >> laughter from some
> >> >> of the class - as if to say "oh geez, here they go again" - but I know
> >> >> that I was far from the
> >> >> only kid who loved those songs because they seemed to give the scene an
> >> >> extra jolt.
> >> >>
> >> >> Working as a musical director and coach, and teacher in a college
> >> musical
> >> >> theatre
> >> >> program, I always talk to my students 
> about the reasons for singing in a
> >> >> musical. (Or, one
> >> >> could compare this to why arias happen out of secco recitative, or how
> >> one
> >> >> gets from
> >> >> secco to the more dramatic accompagnato 
> recit.) The basic answer is that
> >> >> one sings
> >> >> because mere speaking doesn't convey enough for the emotion of the
> >> moment.
> >> >> That's the
> >> >> "theatrical language" of it. But really, it's based in everyday truth.
> >> >> When we speak, and we
> >> >> need to hit an emotional point, our voices will naturally tend to get a
> >> >> little higher, maybe
> >> >> we hold words a bit longer, and maybe we subconsciously/unconsciously
> >> find
> >> >> ourselves in a
> >> >> somewhat "sing-ier" place in our speaking range. We do the same thing
> >> >> naturally if we
> >> >> need to be heard above a crowd or to try to dominate a conversation,
> >> etc.
> >> >> It's only natural
> >> >> then, that the *theatrical* equivalent of this is actual singing.
> >> >>
> >> >> And some people just don't feel 
> comfortable with that. Their loss, lol -
> >> >> but that's a lot of
> >> >> what I think Mr. Tomlinson is getting at. They see it as some sort of
> >> >> embarrassing and
> >> >> superficial grandstanding, instead of the next most natural step in
> >> vocal
> >> >> expression.
> >> >>
> >> >> The only "smart-ass" "posturing of an academic" I see here is from the
> >> >> poster. (Sorry,
> >> >> Eric, but you truly set yourself up for that. Better luck next time,
> >> lol?)
> >> >>
> >> >>
> >> >> On Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:44:21 -0400, Genevieve Castle Room
> >> >> <[log in to unmask] <javascript:;> <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> >Gary Tomlinson from Yale University wrote:
> >> >> >
> >> >> >
> >> >> >>"Of all our dramatic arts, opera 
> demands the most of us. It asks us to
> >> >> >accept it as dramatic representation, to immerse ourselves in a
> >> sequence
> >> >> of
> >> >> >imitated actions far more specific and complex than those offered by
> >> the
> >> >> >gestural arts of dance or mime. Yet because it is sung it requires, if
> >> it
> >> >> >is to be taken seriously as drama, a leap of imagination longer than
> >> that
> >> >> >needed for spoken theater, a suspension of disbelief more
> >> uncompromising.
> >> >> >Perhaps this explains why opera is so often not taken seriously: we
> >> have
> >> >> >all encountered the superficial allegiances of opera buffs, their
> >> cults of
> >> >> >divas and heldentenors, and we all have also known people who on some
> >> >> >visceral and unselfconscious level 
> reject altogether the notion of sung
> >> >> >drama. But difficulty in appreciating 
> opera as serious drama is not the
> >> >> >burden of sycophants and the 
> naïve alone. Instead we each contend
> >> with
> >> >> it,
> >> >> >reaching our own more or less uneasy compromises with the genre. We
> >> >> >struggle in some part of ourselves to restrain the skepticism that can
> >> >> >shatter the spell of its music drama. We strive to accommodate the
> >> breach
> >> >> >of verisimilitude inherent in its singing talk"
> >> >> >
> >> >> >-----------
> >> >> >
> >> >> >How do you interpret his comment?
> >> >> >
> >> >> >The posturing of an academic? A sneer?
> >> >> >
> >> >> >As far as make believe and realism in the theater, does anyone else
> >> think
> >> >> that
> >> >> >most of this guy's smart ass arguments are founded on a false
> >> conception
> >> >> of
> >> >> >reality *qua *naturalism and are therefore pseudo-problems?
> >> >> >
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