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Subject: Re: "Superficial Allegiances"
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 24 Jun 2017 13:07:40 -0400
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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]> 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]> 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:;>> 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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