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Subject: Re: Booing at the Met
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 28 Oct 2017 18:52:40 -0400

text/plain (126 lines)

I think part of "the problem" is that there is no one "problem." Every opera and every 
production is different, and it has to be approached on its own terms. It's not like anyone 
can wave a magic wand and poof, the audience behaves just as you want them to. ;-)

That's not ever going to happen. ;-)

Plus, some people are just going to do what they always do. You could put "please don't 
applaud yet" up on the supertitles and some people will still applaud anyway. 

On Sun, 29 Oct 2017 00:21:10 +0300, Henry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Thanks for your comments. You raise some interesting points but even so
>you don't bring us any closer to solving the problem:
>> Inasmuch as we strive to find ways for audiences not to applaud early,
>Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Sometimes that can work. But you'd be surprised how many times that would
>> actually feel very awkward and artificial, and long. Also, I know a lot of
>> directors who don't like blackouts, and who would prefer either a slow
>> fadout or having the curtain slowly cover the scene. It's a valid artistic
>> choice, like many others.
>> Also, some operas have final music that is truly meant to be heard, but
>> many (especially 19th century bel canto through much of Verdi, etc) that
>> are more just a repetition of a final cadence, etc - it's not "important"
>> music, it's just meant to put a definite cap on it. Unless a director can
>> really fill that music with compelling stage action, it's better to have
>> the curtain coming in as part of that cadential repetition.
>> Butterfly famously ends on a "wrong" chord - it's really the only
>> classical tonal piece I can think of that doesn't actually end on the
>> tonic (though it's implied in the bass, so we tend to hear the resolution
>> in our heads, I think). I think that last chord really should correspond
>> to a final dramatic moment in the staging - perhaps Pinkerton hugging his
>> son, or his discovery of the dead/dying Butterfly, or perhaps a brave
>> director would find a way to delay her suicidal stab until that chord. I
>> don't know. But it's clear to me that Puccini had something to say with
>> that last chord.
>> But the cadential "fills" that we hear at the end of, say, Traviata, or
>> Rigoletto, or many a bel canto score - that's curtain-lowering music. What
>> else is there really to dramatize in that moment? More time watching
>> Rigoletto or Alfredo cry over the body? La commedia e finita. Bring in the
>> curtain, please.
>> (And with that reference to Pagliacci - in my head, I've always felt that
>> the fast cascading music at the end, after the reiteration of "ridi,
>> Pagliaccio" in the orchestra, could be Canio running off pursued by the
>> crowd, leaving the 2 dead bodies for us to see on the final chords. As the
>> curtain comes in.)
>> Some composers dictate where they want to curtain to come in, or to rise,
>> and how slowly or quickly. Berg gives specific instructions for the
>> beginning and ending of each scene of Wozzeck, for instance. Though many
>> productions nowadays don't always use the curtain between scenes the way
>> he originally designed it.
>> But - he does ask for the curtain to start descending 4 bars before the
>> the end of the opera. ;-)
>> On the other hand, with the wonderfully stark ending of Billy Budd - the
>> only opera I can think of that ends a cappella - Britten asks for a "slow
>> curtain" after Vere has finished singing. No blackout - just the effect of
>> the curtain going down on him and his thoughts in silence. So I tend to
>> think that he was actually asking for the audience to have that bit of
>> silence with Vere before acknowledging the performance.
>> What is true, though, is that curtains, lights, and "buttons" on staging
>> (a final movement or pose meant to bring the action to a close) to
>> influence how the audience reacts. And I've worked with a surprising
>> number of directors inexperienced with directing musicals or operas who
>> really don't understand how that works. Inasmuch as we strive to find ways
>> for audiences not to applaud early, there's also nothing quite as
>> uncomfortable as a moment that cries out for applause but doesn't get any,
>> because the audience doesn't get that subliminal cue. It's not just about
>> the music, it's about how lights and staging can shape the arc of an act,
>> or song, or aria.
>> But it's definitely not "one size fits all" - many opera endings would
>> feel very awkward if we had to wait for the music to end to then get a
>> blackout and then a closing curtain. You'd actually risk confusing the
>> audience to an extent, especially with those operas that have clear
>> "cadential filler" music that invites applause as much as a curtain might.
>On Sat, 28 Oct 2017 15:08:12 +0300, Henry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >When the
>> >singing/music stops, there should be a blackout first, then the curtain
>> >moves.
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