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Subject: Re: Booing at the Met
From: daaaac <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:daaaac <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 29 Oct 2017 18:24:34 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain
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I saw a 1972 Scotto Butterfly in Dallas where that last chord was used in the staging.  Cio C-o San was on a 3 or 4 step platform, stage-wide,. in her house, kneeling, facing upstage in clear view when she stabbed herself in the typical style.  Her body rumbled a bit into death, but it remained kneeling and upright.  During the end of  the posstlude, Bruno Prevedi’s Pinkerton arrived and sheepishly walked over to touch her on that final G major chord.  She feel backWARDS, sprawled across that little stairway, on her back, thereby lettingg the audience see her, wound and all.

A sparse production, across the back of the stage werious heights of telephone pole-looking structures signifying Nagasaki mountains.  During the Flower duet, the wire-dipped flowers were heard being inserted into various styrofoam blocks across the stage.  Anna di Stasio sang Suzuki, Julian Patrick was Sharpless and Rescigno conducted.  It was a memorable performance for this 17-year-old.
> On Oct 29, 2017, at 4:25 PM, donald kane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> You "think that final chord really should correspond to a final dramatic
> moment
> in the staging" of MADAMA BUTTERFLY!
> 
> That is exactly the kind of thinking that can destroy a composer's perfectly
> placed musical inspiration.  What Puccini is saying in the most powerful
> and ironic way, is that there is nothing more to say.  Any action on stage
> while that excruciating chord is sounded would reduce it to a cheap shot out
> of a third class "film noir".
> 
> dtmk
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> On Sat, Oct 28, 2017 at 3:41 PM, 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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