Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Leoš Janáček, Jenůfa (1902)

That title there confuses me. Because wikipedia says (and has a poster from the premiere proving this) that the Czech title is Její pastorkyňa ("her stepdaughter"), but the English title is the main character's name? Why? Who decided that? Pretty weird.
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Monday, May 20, 2019

Sergei Prokofiev, L'amour des trois oranges (1921)

Yup, the libretto is in French (wikipedia claims "because Russian would have been unacceptable to American audiences"--da fuq?), and yes, it's called "The love for three oranges." It's based on a faerie tale, but I gather it has its own weirdness to it, and it's a little difficult to describe the plot without sounding like you're having a stroke: first, there's an audience arguing over whether they want to see a tragedy or comedy or what. Then the action starts, and there's a hypochondriac prince, the son of the King of Clubs. He has to be made to laugh or he'll die, but there are schemers trying to stop this from happening, at least in part by reciting bad poetry to him, so they can take the throne, supported by a sorceress, Fata Morgana. The king decides to have a carnival to make the prince laugh, with the help of a clown, Truffaldino. It seems like it's not going well, but then Fata Morgana has a pratfall and the prince laughs at her, so she curses him by making him obsessed with a love for three oranges. This works immediately, and he drags Truffaldino off with him to look for the oranges, which are in a witch's lair. So they outwit the witch's cook (a woman played by a baritone--a reverse trouser role?) and get the oranges and escape. The oranges keep getting bigger until they hatch one by one into faerie princesses, the first two of which die of thirst, it being a desert (surprisingly morbid). But the audience gives the prince water to save the third one, and in spite of some scheming, the day is saved. The conspirators are going to be executed, but Fata Morgana spirits them away. That is all.
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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Richard Wagner, Das liebesverbot (1836)

This is Wagner's second completed opera. It was a failure at the time, and disavowed by the composer; the account on wikipedia of that premiere is pretty funny:

Poorly attended and with a lead singer who forgot the words and had to improvise, it was a resounding flop and its second performance had to be cancelled after a fist-fight between the prima donna's husband and the lead tenor broke out backstage before the curtain had even risen; only three people were in the audience. It was never performed again in Wagner's lifetime.

Fun! It's certainly not commonly performed nowadays, and I certainly wouldn't have gone out of my way to see it, but I found a production on youtube, so what the hell? It's his only comedy other than Meistersinger, so...bam.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Arrigo Boito, Mefistofele (1868/75)

Yes! it's another Faust opera, this time by a man best-known as the librettist for Verdi's Otello and Falstaff. ARE YOU EXCITED?!? Well, you should be. I'd been wanting to see this one for a long time, so when someone on the Met in HD facebook group linked to this production, I was THERE, baby!  I'm not clear how long it'll be up, and I couldn't figure out how to download it, so better see it now rather than later.
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Friday, May 17, 2019

Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde (1865)

So at the beginning of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, the heroine Adina is reading from a book about Tristan and Iseult and the basic gist of it is "wow! Look at this delightful story! At first Iseult didn't like Tristan, but then she drank the potion, and she fell in love with him! How fantastic! If only we could have a potion like that!" If she had read on, she might find that the story became somewhat less cheerful. Though actually, at least here, that set-up isn't even right: it's not that he's in love with her first; neither of them is until the potion comes up.  Donizetti just presents it that way to set the plot in motion.  Anyway. Here's this.
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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gioachino Rossini, La Cenerentola (1817)

Yup, I was right.
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Monday, May 13, 2019

Jules Massenet, Cendrillon (1899)

Well, I saw this one. It's a Cinderella story, as you might have gathered. It includes most of the usual story beats, though not necessarily with the levels of emphasis you'd expect. It does not, however, feature anyone getting their feet mutilated, which is probably for the best.  No anthropomorphic mice either, thank goodness.
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