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Subject: Re: "Superficial Allegiances"
From: donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 19 Jul 2017 22:47:45 -0400
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Most operas, including not only the most "popular", but the most
performed, the most accessible, the "greatest" by universally
recognized standards, are "not like" HIPPOLYTE & ARICIE, or
CARDILLAC.  You insist on applying the perception of difficulty
according to standards which you alone have set for yourself;  the
rest of us see no reason to do that, so we go blissfully on, enjoying
BOHEME and MEISTERSINGER, and SALOME in our golden years
just as much as we did when they first attracted us.

dtmk

On Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 9:24 PM, Genevieve Castle Room <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Jon,
>
> I missed your second sentence.
>
> >You tend to live in a bubble where you think that opera has to take a lot
> of WORK and "immersion" to appreciate. Most people are not like that.
>
> >Most people are not like that.
>
>
> But HOW do these 'people' follow a musical work in all its particulars
> without repeated experience? How did they acquire more sensitive and more
> sophisticated aesthetic abilities for operas like 'Hippolyte et Aricie' and
> 'Cardillac'?
>
> You never say anything about the cultivation of our discriminatory
> capacities, the increased fineness of our responses or the contemplation of
> the emergence of formal, aesthetic and expressive properties.
>
> I agree wholeheartedly with this proposition.
>
> >The finest musical works and operas demand an intensity of listening
> ANTIPATHETIC to many people: that is why it is an art for a minority  --
>  not an elite, but a small although not insignificant number with a
> passionate interest, like that equally small tribe, the lovers of poetry.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> -----------
>
> On Saturday, June 24, 2017, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml',[log in to unmask]);>> wrote:
>
> > 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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