Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Anthony Trollope, The Eustace Diamonds (1871)

You might have the impression that I'm not reading anymore, given that all the recent posts are about operas. No...I'm reading as usual. This one just took longer than normal, for what are probably fairly obvious reasons.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I think there's actually something to be said for boredom in a Trollope novel. That doesn't mean I go out of my way looking to be bored, or that I'd ever say something like "you know what the problem with this book is? It's not boring enough." But all the same...there is something kind of soothing about the inevitable boring bits you come upon--with the signal exception, of course, of the fox-hunting bits, which are both boring and repulsive, and yup, there's one here. Bah.
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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Richard Wagner, Lohengrin (1850)

I honestly had no idea that the tune commonly known as "Here Comes the Bride" originally came from this opera. A good thing to know to trick people into thinking you're smart, and/or to win money.
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Friday, March 15, 2019

Richard Wagner, Der fliegende Holländer (1843)

Damn, man, how 'bout that overture? Nothing could shout "Damned Pirate Ghostship" more plainly. I am extremely impressed. I mean, not that the rest of the score is any slouch, but that overture.
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Richard Wagner, Tannhäuser (1845)

So Treemonisha was my fiftieth opera. Maybe not the best choice, but I'd thought it was going to be The Haunted Manor until I realized I'd screwed up the count. So. Anyway, my only point being, it seemed odd to have watched so many and have no Wagner in there. I am going to watch the Ring Cycle in due course, but somehow, I felt like it was something I should build up to a little. You don't read Finnegans Wake before Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses. You'll notice that that analogy really doesn't work at all, since there's no reason that the Ring operas should be more "difficult" to watch than any other Wagner, but doesn't it sound superficially plausible if you don't think about it at all? Superficial plausibility is what we are going for!
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Saturday, March 09, 2019

Scott Joplin, Treemonisha (1911)

I wanted to see this in February, for black history month, but somehow, that got by me. I know there ARE other operas by black composers, but this was the only one I could find. And only barely: a production was released on an old, long-out-of-print VHS tape way back in 1991, but, you know, old, long-out-of-print. Fortunately, some good samaritan uploaded the whole thing to youtube! With burnt-in Portuguese subtitles. Well, the lord giveth, the lord taketh away. It's not that big a deal, but it really would be nice to have English subs: even if you know the language, operatic singing is not always easy to understand, and there are some parts of this that were simply indecipherable to me.
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Friday, March 08, 2019

Stanisław Moniuszko, The Haunted Manor (1865)

Hey, guess what I saw! Big thanks to my brother for twigging me to this production on youtube, with English subs (well, English and Polish simultaneously--slightly awkward but ultimately perfectly watchable)--I hadn't been able to find it, possibly because the video misspells the title. BUT OH WELL! Of course, this is the other well-known (relatively speaking) opera by the author of Halka. It's very tonally different, though--that was a fairly typical tragedy, whereas this is a goofy comedy with strong lashings of Polish patriotism.
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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Manru (1901)

Hey look, it's another Polish opera, this one by a one-time Prime Minister of Poland. How about that? It's also to date the only Polish opera ever to be performed at the Met, albeit in English translation.
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