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Subject: Re: Plot failures (was perfect operas)
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 10 Aug 2018 16:58:35 +0000

text/plain (115 lines)

Theatrical conventions change over time, and the kind of melodrama 
preserved in many nineteenth-century operas is often deemed risible 
today. Moreover, since nineteenth century drama is rarely produced, for 
many the only exposure is in opera (how often is Schiller's Don Carlos 
performed, compared to Verdi's?), and it becomes exposure without 
context, viewed through a more modern theatrical understanding. The same 
of course is true of early twentieth century musical comedy--the shows 
of Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, etc. are difficult to produce today 
because they seem so "dated." It's not that audiences in the nineteenth 
or twentieth centuries had a different view of reality, only that they 
were accustomed to the existing theatrical tropes.

So it's not really a matter of Verdi, Mozart, etc. seeing past the 
deficiencies, for to them it was not a deficiency at all, merely the way 
theater was. Among the things I find fascinating about Verdi's long 
career is seeing how his approach to dramaturgy changed over the years 
and operas, reflecting not only his own thoughts but also the alteration 
in conventions. Strauss is another fascinating example, particularly the 
way he (and Hofmannsthal) moved, like a crab, backwards, from the ultra 
modernism of Elektra to older theatrical conventions in their later 
collaborations (even reviving the ancient "bed trick" in Arabella). I 
think it's one reason that many Strauss operas continue to play well, as 
they divorce the conventions from whatever was "contemporary" and 
instead use them as an artistic device.

------ Original Message ------
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 8/10/2018 10:21:46 AM
Subject: Re: Plot failures (was perfect operas)

>Oh, sweet Jesus. Poor health has prevented me from writing here much of 
>but not even being 1/2 paralyzed can keep me from groaning one last 
>time about
>people complaining about operatic plots and story lines.  If you find 
>them far
>fetched, unbelievable, etc. that's YO/UR problem.  Clearly geniuses 
>such as
>Donizetti, Verdi, Mozart, et al. were able to see not only past any 
>deficiencies but create worlds which they believed in and graciously 
>invite us to
>enter into with them and ESCAPE FROM REALITY.
>Applying ones own logic into just about any opera is missing the point. 
>question, say, Leonora's logic or motives with "Well, I'd never have 
>done that" is
>useless, and makes little senseI, ultimately serving as nothing more 
>than a battier
>between you and the composer.  I find such complaints the equivalent of 
>the greatest chef prepare his greatest delicacy for you, while you 
>complain about
>the china.  This is not only insane, but, unless you're a teenage noble 
>woman in
>fictional 15th Century Spain, your input into her behavior is 
>ultimately irrelevant.
>It is amazing to me that we can accept fantasy and all manner of super 
>hero and
>sci-fi scenarios today in our cinema features far more readily than we 
>can tales of
>gypsies and curses, not so far removed from our own era.
>Cammarano, who began Trovatore's  libretto, was one of the most 
>librettists of his time.  He was struck by Gutierrez’s early 19th 
>century play, El
>trovador, viewed by critics and public alike  as a revelation and which 
>wild success in its day.  It's still considered among the first and 
>greatest of
>“modern” works commentating upon the corrupt irrationality of rival 
>political and
>social factions seeking dominance and complete control of their world.  
>Still pretty
>relevant stuff today. To up the dramatic ante, it's also a harsh 
>commentary upon
>the blind rage vendettas that needlessly took so many lives for 
>centuries.  Again,
>there is much relevant to the world we presently find ourselves in.
>It's too easy to look at things at surface level and make fun of them.  
>however,  frequently demands more of us, makes us look beneath that 
>serving, below "skin level" which is but one of the complexities that 
>makes it
>unique and an all consuming art form for so many of us. Far from being 
>a silly
>opera, Trovatore is an enthralling, timeless  masterpiece - one of 
>Verdi's greatest
>achievements and a work that, despite being wrongfully maligned (though
>sometimes skewered brilliantly with thought and love) has passed the 
>test of time
>and can provide one hell of a Night at The Opera!

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