In one of my earliest OTF’s, I mused about opera as “an escape from the everyday” – somehow our problems always seem so much less important when compared to the tragic circumstances often encountered in Opera.
Another aspect of the escape factor has to do with the larger-than-life locations, situations and stories: from Valhalla to Egypt of the Pharaohs, passing through the regal courts of far away lands.
But what of opera set in the context of everyday life?
Ome could argue that many operas are set in not-so-extraordinary places, although the stories may not be so ordinary.
Whare am I going with this? In preparing for another blog post, I searched for a YouTube clip of a work by Canadian composer Alexina Louie called “Imaginary Opera”. Though I failed to find a clip of that work in performance, I was surprised to stumble onto a set of clips like these:
(WARNING: Objectionable language!)
I was not aware (shame on me…) that Mrs Louie had collaborated with comedy writer turned librettist Dan Redican in a series of short, made for television so-called “Soap operas” and the above clip is one of them – Toothpaste (composed in 2001).
Mrs. Louie and Mr. Redican teamed-up again in 2002 for a set of 8 of these short operas that they bundled under the name “Burnt Toast”.
Each mini-opera depicts a different stage of romantic love: Attraction, Connection, Commitment, Marriage, Consummation, Perseverance, Disintegration and Starting Over. Louie used a variety of different styles in this work and even borrows from other composers. Most notably, she utilizes the music for the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute and music from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
In the clips, many well-known Canadian actors lip-synch to the singing of well-known Canadian opera singers. The credits give a complete list of the performers. The music is performed by the Toronto-based Esprit orchestra, founded and conducted by Mrs. Louie’s husband, Alex Pauk.
To complete today’s OTF post, another modern opera, this time by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti (who wrote his own libretto). The telephone is a 20-ish minute one-act opera, depicting the attemnpts of a man trying to get his girl friend’s attention as she is hopelessly distracted by a succession of telephone conversations. A classic!
The YouTube playlist is of a full BBC Radio broadcast, with Rebecca Caine, David Barrell, and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
October 12, 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Birthdays: Igor Stravinsky" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel. Read more October 12 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.