Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Benjamin Britten, Let's Make an Opera!/The Little Sweep (1949) and Noye's Fludde (1958)

In addition to his "regular" operas, Britten also wrote some shorter, less-performed works: these and three on religious themes meant for performance in churches. I feel it would be better for me to watch them prior to the full-fledged operas of his I've yet to see--A Midsummer Night's Dream, Peter Wingrave, Death in Venice--lest they should be made to feel anti-climactic. I mean, I don't KNOW that they would. It just seems like a potential concern. I'm pairing these two together because they're both designed for primarily amateur casts.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Einojuhani Rautavaara, Aleksis Kivi (1997)

Hey look, another Finnish opera. The topic of this one is awfully esoteric, at least for the non-Finns among us. Aleksis Kivi was a nineteenth-century writer of poems, plays, and a novel who died at the age of thirty-eight of some mixture of physical and mental causes and is now--per wikipedia--known as Finland's national writer. As I understand it, he was one of the first writers to take the Finnish language seriously, as opposed to just writing in Swedish. It's kind of amazing to me that this was ever released on DVD, not that I'm complaining. I was unfamiliar with Kivi, but that novel of his does look kind of interesting, so maybe I'll check out the English translation.
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Monday, March 30, 2020

Jake Heggie, Moby-Dick (2010)

It's unclear why the title of the novel is hyphenated but the actual whale's name isn't. However, I'm glad to see that this opera version kept the hyphen intact. However, unfortunately, it got rid of the alternate title, so while if you say "hey, I just saw that opera, Moby-Dick," other people will say "cool, how was it?" if you say "hey, I just saw that opera, The Whale," these same people will say "what the heck are you talking about, you weirdo?" They'll think you sound like a fool! It's a real shame.
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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Rued Langgaard, Antikrist (1930)

And now, another Danish opera for Scandinavian Opera Week! Nordic Opera Week? Irrelevant: whatever kind of week it is, it's over now, 'cause I ain't got any more! So for now, enjoy this.
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Einojuhani Rautavaara, Rasputin (2003)

Now there was a cat that really was gone, let me tell you.

This one happened unexpectedly: I just did a google search for "Finnish operas" and idly clicked on every result and saw WHOA, there's a video of this one on youtube, with subtitles'n'everything! So I had to see it. I've looked as hard as I'm able, and as far as Scandinavian operas go, there's a fair number in Danish, Swedish and Finnish, very few in Norwegian or Icelandic, and I'm gonna venture probably none in Faroese. Although as I understand it, all of these but Finnish are mutually comprehensible to one degree or another, so maybe that doesn't mean much.
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Friday, March 27, 2020

Iiro Rantala, Sanatorio Express (2018)

Welcome to day three of Scandinavian Opera Week! Didn't know it was Scandinavian Opera Week? Well, neither did I. And yet, here we, with my second-ever Finnish-language work. Rantala is mainly known as a jazz pianist, and weirdly enough, neither his wikipedia page, nor--as far as I can tell--his official website makes any reference whatsoever to this opera--nor, again as far as I can tell, has anyone ever reviewed it on the internet. This no-profile situation is very baffling to me--I'm pretty sure every other contemporary opera I've seen has at least something written about it online. I'm a Sanatorio Express pioneer, and that level of responsibility makes me very nervous.
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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Sebastian Fagerlund, Autumn Sonata (2017)

This is based on an Ingmar Bergman film which I must admit, I haven't seen (it's also my first opera sung in Swedish). I'm definitely woefully inadequate in my knowledge of cinema, but as you get older, you start to realize that you're just never going to experience all the art you might want to. There are potentially transcendent, life-changing experiences that you will never have, and even if you knew in advance exactly what they were, you wouldn't be able to get to them all--there simply isn't enough time in a life. You must simply accept it and pick and choose what you're most interested in.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Carl Nielsen, Maskarade (1906)

The other opera by the composer of Saul og David, which I wasn't that fond of, but what the hell. According to wikipedia, it's considered to be Denmark's national opera. Does every country with any kind of operatic tradition have a "national opera?" What's Italy's?
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