Knights at the opera/Night ramblings


To Caronome of the fascinating Blog “ScoreDesk”,  thanks for your words of praise coming as it were from a young lion who LOVES opera.

Opera needs her young lions now more than ever.

Where are they growling and purring these days? On the many and varied blogs.

These blogs are so interesting .

My favorite started out as a magazine and then easily morphed into the place to be in cyberland.

James Jorden’s informed as well as intensely entertaining international powerhouse “ParterreBox” and several others that I like,  in particular the intriguing “Sieglinde’s Diaries”, the educational love letter to opera at Charlie Handelman’s “Handelmania”, from Milano “Operachic” and the often hilarious “Maury D’annato’s” “My Favorite Intermissions”-to be fair, I get him more than he gets me, but we won’t hold that against him- vividly put opera on a passionate landscape in the often cold world of cyber communication.  

What was once the territory of expresso bars near the opera houses after the show, or near the exits of backstages all over the world, or even during performance intervalli at meeting areas, oh, like- {blushing} –  the MilloPole-…this kind of opinion exchanges and debates fuel an interest in opera and it’s “servants”. 

It is basically, as in life anywhere where opinion is plenty but knowledge may not be, a bit of a crap shoot as far as who is clearly ABLE to have an informed discussion. But when has that ever stopped or delayed a hearty, opinionated discussion of opera? Ages change, I would be so curious what a generation that grew up listening to Tibbett and Ponselle and Caruso and Ruffo would think of today’s little band of music makers? Those that grew up with Tebaldi, and Callas, and Del Monaco and Corelli, Tucker and Milanov. They were really so spoiled. So poveri we arrive at today.

One of the more heated debates of today?  The supposed change of opera from being an aural pleasure over visual on occasion to being OBSESSED with the visual, bad or good?

People today are so afraid opera will cease to exist. These little Knights chopping away are like sponges in water, they expand.  Know when I think water is bad? When it drowns..The kind that drenches spirits.  

The Knights above get busy when someone calls opera a museum. They have called it that for years…..

Today however we are treated to various people disrespecting great singers from the past. To what end?….

Opera was nothing before, NOW it is worth something because of?   It is the greatest experience anyone will ever have in a theater where word is married to SONG and both are important…..

To those who labor under lazy journalism, convenient PR or just wishful thinking, “acting” in opera has existed before. Perhaps it is I who misunderstand, and there are admittedly persuasive arguments in abundance….but entering the frey I go with a slightly naive but important question…..

I had always understood that it would be to the legitimate theater of spoken word that one would dash to, when acting was your main interest.  Opera was a sister to that kind of theater to be sure but boasting music….and you went to OPERA for what the voice would bring to a given libretto/story.The emphasis was on the music and you demanded a certain attention and discipline be accorded to the music above all…. Words meant something. Of course…..but the words unspoken and those “felt” by hearing the words enveloped in a human sound “singing” go beyond words… exalted experience, unlike any other. Right?   Great singing actors existed and were lauded for their ability to serve the two masters, considered RARE.  They also acted with the voice…….

Callas?  Chaliapin? ……Muzio? Tebaldi? Treigle? Calve?   Sills?  Rysenek?   Stratas? Vickers? MAGDA? Scotto?  Ramon Vinay?  Del Monico?   Albanese? ….Corelli? to name only a few.   …..

There was and is an excitement to hearing a great voice just stand there, yes, stand there and pour their hearts out……Frankly, if I had to choose between a greatly ACTED opera or a fabulously SUNG opera.  I would choose the latter.  I am all for having both if possible, communication is our duty, but it is an opera, an “OPUS” meaning a work – and this work is set to music.  MUSIC. Music not relegated to the background, but front and center.

Created by geniuses, and demanding a great tradition. A discipline.  In Ballet when Ballet got bored, they didn’t diss the traditions, they didn’t verbally deficate on the art.  Great dancers from the past were spoken of in hushed tones.They went and found modern geniuses to give them something new, literally NEW pieces….. and STILL had their traditions…..protected and revered.  

A balance.   Respect.  Creation. Inspiration…….Humility…..

Critics and naysayers for YEARS have said all these distasteful things about opera. That seems a given, like ants at a picnic….. I think what has discouraged me today is now the singers are saying it!  ouch.

Opera will survive them too, but how sad these great exponents of today’s school couldn’t be more balanced about the way they hope to “save” it.   

~ by aprilemillo on November 18, 2007.