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Subject: Re: "Superficial Allegiances"
From: albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 29 Jun 2017 22:01:04 -0500

text/plain (184 lines)

Mr. Goldberg, I am sorry that the revised version of my post somehow
disappeared and the first draft did. I did indeed remove the venom although
I made the central point. The nasty ad hominems were a late night impulse
and were inappropriate. For a time earlier today, the revised version did
appear, but I don't know what happened subsequently. There is no excuse for
my unpleasantness in your case. Another post did fill me with rage and I
suppose I hadn't discharged all of that before simply suggesting that Mr.
Sessions be seen accurately and not attacked for his significant gifts.

However, that isn't an excuse. I am sure you are a well trained and very
capable musician and my snark is no help to the arguments I advance. My
apologies for what they are worth. I am posting this to the list as well as
to you in private and I hope it appears on the list.

Albert Innaurato

On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 7:26 PM, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Well, Mr. Innaurato, I stand corrected about Sessions' operatic analyses.
> But you work in
> the biz (unlike Genevieve), so it's really quite a bit different when that
> kind of info comes
> from you. Plus, we do essentially agree on the issues with Montezuma
> (which is, for the
> majority of us, the only link between opera and Sessions that we have - if
> even that, since
> one doesn't encounter that opera every day, lol), and I think it would be
> natural to take the
> leap that he was not an opera-centric man, to say the least. If he had
> great insights into
> Berg's operas, plus the others you mentioned, that's good to know. And
> yes, I also agree
> that his instrumental writing is a whole different story.
> But - please don't, in turn, lecture me on condescension or "past the
> pale" remarks - since
> we know that you've been prone to make many of those as well, lol. I'm not
> accusing, just
> pointing that out. As I recall, I believe I've even defended some of your
> remarks out here
> at times. Touche, mon ami. ;-)
> In this particular day, where the news had been sabotaged yet again by a
> "man" who has
> zero control of his twitter ranting, and needlessly ugly childish,
> disgusting accusations are
> now, again, part of the permanent POTUS record - maybe it's time for all
> of us to take a
> step back and be just a little more thoughtful before hitting the "send"
> button - or not to
> post if there's nothing nice to say. (Of course, a well-placed zinger can
> sometimes be
> irresistible lol.) I love a good debate, even a heated one, but yes, they
> can quickly get out
> of hand. I'm sorry for my part in that. I still don't agree at all with
> anything Genevieve
> posted in this case, but as I already said, I don't intend to get involved
> with those kind of
> posts again.
> Onward...
> On Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:12:43 -0500, albert innaurato <
> [log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> >It's an admission of personal irrelevance to fight philistinism with
> >philistinism. Jon Goldberg puts down Roger Sessions, a significant
> American
> >composer. That is strange for someone who describes himself as a musician.
> >
> >I took a seminar with Mr. Sessions when I was at Yale. He was a brilliant
> >man who knew infinitely more about music than anyone who contributes to
> >this list. However, he had had little exposure to opera in his training.
> Opera
> >was for idiots (with perhaps exceptions). That attitude lasted a long time
> >and can still be encountered.
> >
> >John Adams is an arguably great composer who has written music of
> eloquence
> >in his operas but in my opinion, has been badly served and in Dr. Atomic,
> >which musically has a stunning first act, is sabotaged by a ghastly
> >libretto. When asked tactfully about this issue, he responded, "well,
> >better that than Madame Butterfly".
> >
> >He was wrong. If opera were alive for intelligent people (and Adams is
> >brilliant) they'd understand that if you want to compose an opera,
> >Butterfly is a good model, whether it's good in any other way or not.
> >A theatrical problem for Dr, Atomic is that the story is essentially an
> >internal one. It concerns the journey of the creator of the Atomic bomb to
> >understanding the horrendous world destroying power he had unleashed.
> >Butterfly's more trivial story is also an internal journey from an
> >adolescent crush to a mature understanding of her own horrible fate.
> >Keeping such a story alive is hard, making sure an audience stays in touch
> >emotionally with that leading character is a challenge. Puccini and his
> >gifted librettists (who he tortured) understood how to dramatize that
> story
> >and character in a highly specialized form.
> >
> >When I worked with a small opera company here in Philadelphia, I worked
> >with about twelve composers and librettists (or composers alone if they
> >wrote their own texts). NONE knew anything about opera, none had taken the
> >time to study particular operas that work no matter how badly they're done
> >to understand that although their approaches would differ significantly
> >there are ways to dramatize material so that it sings. One of these was
> >Gregory Spears who has recently had a big critical success with Fellow
> >Travelers. But I did the world premiere of Paul's Case and he was as lost
> >in dramatizing the story and making the central character clear and
> >powerful as everybody else. Perhaps he has learned in the meanwhile.
> >
> >Sessions had a bad libretto and neither he nor his librettist had any idea
> >about how to dramatize their story in a theater for opera. But curiously
> >when he lectured about Wozzeck and Lulu, two works that he loved, he not
> >only explicated Berg's choices brilliantly but he referred with insight to
> >operas of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and Wagner as examples of either similar
> >or alternative ways of approaching the issue of making an opera a powerful
> >theatrical work. The other students became very restless when he went back
> >in time to works they thought mostly beneath contempt. But I thought Roger
> >Sessions was one of the most illuminating analysts of the difficulties of
> >conceiving an opera I've ever encountered.
> >
> >It's past the pale for someone to write "I'm betting that JEFF Sessions
> >probably knows more about opera ... than Roger ever did".
> >
> >A musician should have some idea of powerful work such as Sessions' 7th
> >Symphony, Concerto for Orchestra, or his imposing "When Lilacs last in the
> >Dooryard Bloom'd" (a wilder, more passionate and searing treatment of
> >Whitman than Hindemith's impressive version).
> >
> >Condescencion of this kind strikes me as hard to defend.
> >
> >AI
> >
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