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Subject: Re: "Superficial Allegiances"
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 27 Jun 2017 23:46:46 -0400
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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.

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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