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Subject: Ludicrous (?) Premise
From: James Jorden <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Thu, 3 Jul 1997 20:43:21 -0500

text/plain (55 lines)

Rick Teller wrote:
> In a review in the July 1997 BBC Music Magazine, Christopher Wood writes,
> "As often in opera, a ludicrous premise inspires transcendent music..."
> The last act of Figaro?  Manon in Louisiana?  Ziggy singing for twenty
> minutes with a spear in his back before expiring?  The genre does demand an
> unusual ability to suspend disbelief, doesn't it?

Assuming one accepts the conventions that

1. people are expressing their speech (and sometimes their unspoken thoughts)
though singing, and

2. that the action on the stage is meant to represent real life,

none of the examples Mr. Teller enumerates is particularly absurd.

... Given a completely dark garden (impossible to depict naturalistically on
stage) all the action of the last act of "Figaro" is completely possible.  Far
more unlikely things happen nightly in the public parks of Manhattan than da
Ponte could have ever contrived.

... People who receive lethal wounds often live for hours or even days before
the loss of blood finally kills them.  I for one find it immensely moving (and
absolutely realistic) that of all the episodes in his eventful life, Siegfried
should recall his first sight of Brunnhilde as his life ends. [Though, in
passing, I will note a rehearsal of the last act of "Werther", the mezzo
singing Charlotte suddenly asked, "What is this guy dying of -- lead

The "desert in Louisiana" probably has its own FAQ page by now.  "Louisiana"
could well mean the Louisiana Territory, within which expanses one could find
virtually any sort of terrain.  And, of course, "deserto" in Italian means "a
deserted or desolate place", with no cacti or mirages required.  There are
some very inhospitable dunes along the Gulf of Mexico only a few day's journey
on foot from New Orleans.

Now, how's *this* for a ludicrous premise:  a hero marries a barbaric princess
who gives up her throne and her family (and *some* of her magic powers) out of
love for him. In order to facilitate their escape from her vengeful father,
she chops up the bodies of her brothers and flings them in the path of their
pursuers. Then he suddenly announces he wants to divorce her to marry a
younger woman.  And he thinks she'll go along with the idea.

Is this Jason guy an idiot, or what?

james jorden
[log in to unmask]

"What is a cynic?  A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of
                                        -- Oscar Wilde

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