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Subject: Mozart's operas and me.
From: Michael Barclay <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Michael Barclay <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 30 Oct 1998 16:35:15 -0700

text/plain (54 lines)

        I am firmly convinced that while I can enjoy second rate Verdi
        performances, e.g. most of them in SF and even amateur Wagner
        SF Lyric Opera's Das Rheingold this past Monday that I only
        enjoy Mozart's operas, especially the da Ponte's (excluding Cosi
        which I will never see again) when they are done brilliantly.

        I need a first rate cast, a superconducter who understands how
        to pace Mozart's bumpy and overlong musical indulgences and a
        stage director who is a genius.  When that all comes together I
        can really love Le Nozze di Figaro, and have numerous times since
        1971, sort of enjoy Don Giovanni--I kept going back for more to
        Glyndegourne the first year of the Hall production--it was the
        naked violence that caught me and thrilled me.

        As far as Cosi after skipping it every season Muti did it at
        Salzburg I let 2 Italian friends convince me to give it a last
        chance.  I loved Bruscantini as Alfonso a role I dislike, I
        enjoyed Battle's Despina because she could play herself (a little
        thorn) but by the middle of the final act when that endless stream
        of arias begin I had to bite my tongue.  I find all M's scores
        evaporate up their own assholes in the final 40mins to an hour.
        He can't shape drama and he never knows when to stop...when to
        stop...when to stop.

        This happens to Figaro and Cosi, almost happens to Entfuehrung,
        happens to uncut Flutes.  Only Giovanni seems properly proprtioned
        and thrilling from the moment Elvira enters with "L'ultima prove"
        to the end.  I could do without the moralizing could
        Mozart--he dropped it in Wien.  Figaro's garden scene drives me
        nearly mad but I've enjoyed the rest so much I suffer through it
        for the deceitful but brilliant "Perdonas".

        Cosi becomes intolerable.  Idomeneo and Titus are masterpieces
        IMO which simply proves I prefer artificial classical tragedy
        and opera seria to proto-veristic black comedy.

        When Mozart is done brilliantly I find him a genius--when it's even
        one notch lower down I find him a talented windbag who doesn't
        get music-drama.  One notch lower is torture and I leave.

        Thank God I'm not so demanding of Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi,
        Wagner, Richard Strauss and Handel.  And I love world premiers
        cause no one can tell whether they're working or not.  As I
        wrote Tom Kaufman--Vive la difference--that's true about opera
        in every area...You say the Pav and I say Yawn!...I say Windgassen
        and some of you get it.  We all seem to get Wunderlich and a few
        others BUT that's the point.  We all get something and none of us
        wants to "call the whole (or any of its parts) thing off."!
        Michael Barclay

Michael Barclay, D.Lett.   [log in to unmask]
Opera Education International/OEI, Berkeley, California  Please visit our website soon.

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