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Subject: Perfection in opera (was Re[2]: 2008 film of la boheme - question)
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 8 Aug 2018 23:04:01 +0000

text/plain (120 lines)

I am curious to hear what listers mean when they say an opera is 
"perfect." I think Nozze is one of the best constructed operas, with 
terrific characters and an ingenious plot, and would agree that Mozart's 
score is "perfect" (but then it seems hubris to criticize Mozart)--but 
if the opera is performed uncut, the fourth act drags with the various 
star turns one suspects Mozart only reluctantly composed. My favorite 
opera is Elektra, but it too is rarely performed uncut, and 
realistically, the complete opera is probably too taxing for any but the 
most valkyrish of singers. I love Meistersinger, but do grow weary 
during a performance, and agree that despite its tremendous score, as a 
drama Puritani is lacking. I think one of the best matches of music and 
drama is Jenufa, but acknowledge that in performance, it too can benefit 
from cuts, and that some might find the drama overwrought...

I am probably too critical, but I'm not sure I know of an opera in which 
every note and moment is sacred and could not be removed without marring 
the work's perfection. For that matter, I'm not sure I know of a film, 
novel or symphony I would call "perfect" (although some do come awfully 

There are many works where I would not change a thing--but that's not 
the same as perfect. I wouldn't change anything in Die Frau ohne 
Schatten, but realistically cannot claim it is a perfect work, only that 
I love it so much.

------ Original Message ------
From: "Jon Goldberg" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 8/8/2018 5:44:42 PM
Subject: Re: 2008 film of la boheme - question

>But this is where Mr. Kane has a really important point on "perfect" 
>vs. "favorite," Much as
>I love the score to Puritani, I could never consider it anywhere close 
>to a perfect opera,
>because *dramatically* it not only makes very little sense, but it's so 
>very dramatically
>inert. But it's glorious music, yes. (And very difficult music to sing, 
>which thrills us even
>more when it's sung well.) Which, I suppose could make it a candidate 
>for a "perfect"
>concert piece. ;-)
>The other operas Mr. Frey mentions, "perfect" or not, have plenty to 
>offer both in terms of
>music AND drama. I do think that any candidate for a "perfect" opera 
>needs a lot of both.
>On Wed, 8 Aug 2018 16:44:22 -0400, Tom Frey <[log in to unmask]> 
>>My list of perfect operas begins with: Magic Flute, Masked Ball, I 
>>Puritani, Ariadne auf
>Naxos, and La Boheme. There are many others that one could add. 
>Although I've sung in
>the chorus at Parsifal, Lohengrin and Tristan and appreciate the 
>grandeur of Wagner, I am
>drawn mostly to Bel Canto
>>----- Original Message -----
>>From: donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Sent: Wed, 08 Aug 2018 13:21:23 -0400 (EDT)
>>Subject: Re: 2008 film of la boheme - question
>>I think this sets the bar too high; there are dozens of operas as
>>good as those two, and some, by Verdi himself, are going to be
>>considered superior by many people: DON CARLO, AIDA, LA
>>TRAVIATA, or LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, for example.. It is
>>my opinion that ANDREA CHENIER is as "perfect" as an opera
>>can be, and that it is almost impossible to single out just one or
>>two out of the twenty masterpieces by Wagner and Puccini. The
>>whole thing becomes yet another list of "favorites"
>>On Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 1:03 AM, Isaac Alan <[log in to unmask]> 
>>>I am right with you, but for me, Rigoletto and Otello would also be
>>>From: Discussion of opera and related issues 
>>><[log in to unmask]>
>>>on behalf of James Bodge <[log in to unmask]>
>>>Sent: Tuesday, 7 August 2018 9:25:56 PM
>>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>>Subject: Re: 2008 film of la boheme - question
>>>On 8/7/2018 4:27 PM, Bob Rideout wrote:
>>> > I'm with you 100%. There are three, arguably four, operas whose
>>> > every note and every word approach perfection - Boheme, Nozze di
>>> > Figaro and Falstaff. The fourth is Meistrsinger, though when 
>>> > complete, especially David's role, I find unnecessary, to put it 
>>> >
>>> > In any case, those two notes strike me as a perfect accent within a
>>> > perfect act, within a pretty perect opera. I cannot imagine why 
>>> > woukd omit that moment.
>>> >
>>> > But then, I'm sure there are those who can't get enough of David in
>>> > Meistersinger. ;-)
>>> >

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