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Subject: Re: "The Maid of Orleans"
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Wed, 14 Feb 2018 10:47:38 -0500

text/plain (55 lines)

Elizabeth W. Patton allegedly spouted:  

"Much of the music in this opera is uninspiring, as if Tchaikovsky had
 watered down his style for an international audience. By and large, the 
music consists of discouragingly long stretches of eminently forgettable 
music and insipid dialogue, interspersed with stirring instrumental numbers 
and occasional moments of great beauty . . . 

I’d go so far as to say it’s largest problem is due to its libretto but musically 
it’s hardly “forgettable.”  Still, Tchaikovsky remains, for many “serious” 
musicologists, a lowbrow, object of derision, be it is symphonic output, his 
operas; even Onegin comes in for ribbing . . . and how DARE they!

Though not as familiar with it as I am “Onegin,” I’d daresay I find 
Tchaikovsky’s “The Maid…” to be the equal of “Onegin,” in its score.  While 
the narrative suffers a bit, the music is compelling enough for it to be 
better known than it is.  From its opening bars through the fiery finale, its 
themes course through its 3 ½ hours with the Tchaikovsky brand and it 
flows through solos, ensembles, choruses, stunning shifts in dynamics and 
charm.  I’d certainly forgive cutting some of the ballets which are lovely 
and stirring, but admit some feel as though possible left overs from “The 
Nutcracker.”  The role of Joan is a tour de force, her major solo sequence 
in Act I comes mid-act and carries the rest with a scena that includes some 
of her best music, in solos, ensembles and two different choruses;  
villagers and angels.  

Freni championed Joan at career’s end, singing it in San Francisco and 
Washington, and possibly elsewhere.  Audiences love it, even if the critics 
don’t.  I’d certainly prefer to see/hear it swapped out for one of the
the “standards” at least every once in a while.  

From the Odyssey performance and broadcast, here is the prayer/hymn ense
ensemble from the first act.

Uninspired, my eye.  

I'm happy to see so many posts on this this morning!  Vive The Maid!


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