Saturday, September 14, 2019

Stanisław Moniuszko, Paria (1869)

Big ups to Operavision for giving us access to operas that we'd never ever see otherwise! This is Moniuszko's last, and much less-performed than Halka and The Haunted Manor. This production is in celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Moniuszko's birth, as is the new production of Halka going up...just next week. And maybe more later in the year? I hope so.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

George Frideric Handel, Semele (1744)

Oratorios became popular in large part because the Catholic Church forbade the performance of operas during Lent. That's why most of them have religious themes (or at least are, you know, based on Bible stories, which may not be quite the same thing). And indeed, most of Handel's are likewise thus. But then there's this, from Ovid, which clearly bucks the trend. The story, according to wikipedia, is that Handel wanted to write another opera, but he also wanted it to be able to be performed as part of a popular series of Lenten concerts. So, he just decided no, actually, it's an oratorio. Really. Trust me. Good on you, GF. Fight the power! Though actually, although this certainly feels more opera-ish than Juditha Triumphans, the only other oratorio-performed-as-opera I've seen, it still in some ways feels like an oratorio, what with various choruses which have no clear diegetic origin.
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Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (1977)

I was wondering, somewhat guiltily: is this really the first book I've ever read by a black female author? And then I remembered, no, there's Their Eyes Were Watching God. But somehow, the fact that I've read one other almost makes it worse--like, it really emphasizes the limits of my reading. The same way having a single person sitting in an auditorium for an event makes it seem more deserted than if literally no one was there. I mean, there's no point in denying it: ethnic and gender diversity is a real weak spot in my reading habits. I'm honestly not sure I'm actually going to do anything about that, but it's still to be deplored.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

George Frideric Handel, Ariodante (1735)

Eighty percent of baroque operas are based on Orlando Furioso. I may have just made that fact up, but that doesn't change the fact that it's extremely true. It's interesting that such a massive cultural touchstone is largely unknown these days, at least outside the Italophone world. I enjoyed it many years ago, but I've forgotten most of it now. I kinda want to reread it now. Shouldn't it have been made into a Netflix show or something by now?  Not that I'd watch it.
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Friday, September 06, 2019

George Frideric Handel, Partenope (1730)

I found this production on youtube. And there are A LOT of problems with the recording: the visuals are extremely murky, for one; it's hard to really tell what's going on, and there are so many close-ups of faces that it's hard to get an idea for where this is all taking place. Furthermore, the subtitles are wonky as hell; frequently they just appear and disappear in the blink of an eye or a few second at most, so you really have to be looking closely or have the pause button at the ready. Finally, for reasons surpassing understanding, whoever created the video decided to awkwardly edit out applause breaks--although that last one is actually less irksome than the others, which make it difficult or impossible to parse the plot here in anything but the broadest of strokes. After watching it, I belatedly realized that this very performance is available on disc, which would no doubt fix a lot of these problems (though the close-ups would still be an issue).
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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Jean-Philippe Rameau, Platée (1745)

Boy, where would we be without baroque opera, I ask you? I mean, considering where we are now, it chills the blood to imagine how much worse it could be.
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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Jaakko Kuusisto, Ice (2019)

And now for something completely different.  This is based on a best-selling Finnish novel (an opera based on Anna Kavan's Ice would be extremely different). It's possibly the best-selling Finnish novel, if I understand aright. It's the first Finnish-language opera I've seen (whoo!), and also the most recently-composed--the Finnish National Opera and Ballet premier is on Operavision--until September 4 only! See it while you can!
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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Jean-Philippe Rameau, Zoroastre (1749, rev. 1756)

Boy, this one is...different. I don't quite understand all the different categorizations that are apparently made regarding these baroque operas; wikipedia calls this and Castor et Pollux "tragédies en musiques," whereas Les Paladins is apparently a "comédie lyrique" and Les indes galantes is an "opéra-ballet." And yet, those latter two basically seem of a kind to me, whereas this and C&P do not seem very similar. So it's very confusing all 'round.
Read more » is a website that exists on the internet. It has a stock photo for you to enjoy on the front page. This post is SERIOUSLY supposed to be 300-500 words? I feel like a kid who's been assigned an essay for which they have zero inspiration and have to just furiously tread water to make the word count. I was in that situation a few times in college, or maybe more than a few, I'm kind of embarrassed about a lot of my output at that time. Jesus Christ, we're not even halfway there. Should I just list random facts from the website? That sounds kind of boring. I mean, I KNOW they're just trying to do some search optimization thing, which won't work very well because I did not include a link to their site and I intentionally mangled their name when I mentioned it and also I obscured it in the screenshot, but you REALLY have to wonder: what would ANYONE say about this? Also, where do they get the nerve to demand that random strangers say things about their website? If you're not paying me for this, what possible incentive is there? Two hundred words. I mean, I would assume it was a real website, it looks legit, but the fact that they send spam to strangers makes me doubt myself, so that may be a somewhat counterproductive thing to do. Well, the fact that the alleged human who sent me this "offer" doesn't have an email with the actual site's domain name might be another red flag, as might the fact that her alleged name is different than the one in her email. I do appreciate being called "dear," however. It makes me feel like ol' Ellen and I have a real relationship. That's 300.