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Subject: Re: Stunned After Last Few Measures of an Opera
From: Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 3 Dec 2018 20:33:40 -0800

text/plain (21 lines)

Two operas whose endings struck me as being both very moving and also created an impression that haunted me for a long time after, particularly the first time I saw them, are “Aida” and “Jenufa.”

In the house, there’s something about how, after all the power and drama and pageantry of “Aida,” there is something magical about the way the lovers settle into a beautiful but restrained resignation with pianissimo high notes and chromaticism so that rather than walloping you, the opera seems to just float away.

After the harrowing confession of Kostelnicka climaxing an act that has already been tense from the get-go and with the grandeur of Jenufa’s forgiveness, the change and sense of being uplifted that comes with the final duet between Jenufa and Laca is both striking and original. 

In a good performance, the ending of Act 2 of “Die Frau ohne Schatten” can leave an audience stunned. I remember the San Francisco 1976 with Rysanek, Schröder-Feinen, Berry, etc. conducted by Böhm for which an audience, many of whom hadn’t seen the opera live before, were catatonic and slow to applaud but, once they fully regained their senses, were screaming. The end of the final act doesn’t seem to make the same impact.

Max Paley
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