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Thread: Operatic books

          
   
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  1. #211
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    The thing that struck me is that the composers were as concerned about the staging and acting as about the music and singing.
    It seems only fitting; they expend so much time and effort writing music to bring to life a particular libretto and dramatic conception, how could they not want to see it realized as compelling theatre?

    Which seems at an even further remove from those who enjoy opera only for the music.

  2. #212
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    It seems only fitting; they expend so much time and effort writing music to bring to life a particular libretto and dramatic conception, how could they not want to see it realized as compelling theatre?

    Which seems at an even further remove from those who enjoy opera only for the music.
    Please Xsqueeze me if I sound a little didactic...

    I may be confusing (misinterpreting?) the words here a little but maybe we can understand a little of why some enjoy opera only for the music. We have amazing sources now with technology and wealth but I think most access to opera has only been through audio so fans had little other choice and only learned to appreciate opera through the music and their imagination. The only way that they knew and was available. I rabble on like a hampster on steroids only because I am guilty of probably completely making up my own opera in my mind, especially like todays listening to the Maid of Orleans with no libretto...

  3. #213
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clayton View Post
    Please Xsqueeze me if I sound a little didactic...

    I may be confusing (misinterpreting?) the words here a little but maybe we can understand a little of why some enjoy opera only for the music. We have amazing sources now with technology and wealth but I think most access to opera has only been through audio so fans had little other choice and only learned to appreciate opera through the music and their imagination. The only way that they knew and was available. I rabble on like a hampster on steroids only because I am guilty of probably completely making up my own opera in my mind, especially like todays listening to the Maid of Orleans with no libretto...
    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy audio-only opera as much as the next person.

    But there is a certain group of opera lovers who would have us believe that opera is ONLY about the music, and that real opera aficionados are those who are only interested in listening, whereas if you look at the process of composition and first staging of any of these operas, you can see the essential role of libretto and staging in the process. In the case of the operas discussed in the book, the composers were all inspired by a certain story/libretto/play/poetry to write their music; there is constant discussion with librettists about the dramatic impact of the opera, leading to much agonising and re-shuffling and re-writing, and everyone seems to have been involved in the staging as well as the musical rehearsals, because they had a dramatic as well as a musical vision of their work.
    Natalie

  4. #214
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Even apart from staging and the visual experience, I think there's a distinction between those who listen to an opera recording simply to enjoy the beautiful music, and those who listen to get caught up in the dramatic situation. Or maybe it's a continuum, with widely differing perspectives at either extreme.

    Such distinctions can have a bearing on how you prefer to experience opera, as well as the specific periods, styles, and composers you like. I don't think there's anything wrong with any of these viewpoints, though I have my own definite bias. And it does seem, based on Soave's recent reading, that the composers themselves tend to fall into a particular camp.
    Last edited by Amfortas; January 24th, 2015 at 11:52 PM.

  5. #215
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    I knew this subject would come up again. I'm one of the guilty parties - maybe the main guilty one here. I have to confess - especially since I got my Blu-ray machine up and running again, it's partially out of laziness, but I'm also not so crazy about the 'flat' experience of watching opera at home. It's all sort of irrational, I suppose.

    I was thinking about my audio only listening preference when it occurred to me that I spend a lot of time, effort and U.S. $ on chasing live performance, which is inconsistent with the 'audio only' thing. So, it seems to come down to that live, in person, stage performance that cannot be duplicated and isn't so satisfying on the TV in one's living room or den.

    The downside, I guess, is that audio only probably ends up restricting one's breadth of operatic interest. Operas without lively, interesting music tend to get listened to once. No wonder composers fretted about acting and staging. Mediocre theatrical experiences don't see much reward. Then, there also are those operas which have wonderful music but are difficult to stage well.

    Audio only preference probably also reduces interest in new/contemporary opera, which tend to be, in my opinion, far stronger dramatically than musically. This, however, would be a matter of taste - or, maybe just me. Even attending live performances of most contemporary opera make me twitch in my seat and wish I was doing something else - like cleaning the basement (when I had a basement).

  6. #216
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    I knew this subject would come up again. I'm one of the guilty parties - maybe the main guilty one here. I have to confess - especially since I got my Blu-ray machine up and running again, it's partially out of laziness, but I'm also not so crazy about the 'flat' experience of watching opera at home. It's all sort of irrational, I suppose.

    I was thinking about my audio only listening preference when it occurred to me that I spend a lot of time, effort and U.S. $ on chasing live performance, which is inconsistent with the 'audio only' thing. So, it seems to come down to that live, in person, stage performance that cannot be duplicated and isn't so satisfying on the TV in one's living room or den.

    The downside, I guess, is that audio only probably ends up restricting one's breadth of operatic interest. Operas without lively, interesting music tend to get listened to once. No wonder composers fretted about acting and staging. Mediocre theatrical experiences don't see much reward. Then, there also are those operas which have wonderful music but are difficult to stage well.

    Audio only preference probably also reduces interest in new/contemporary opera, which tend to be, in my opinion, far stronger dramatically than musically. This, however, would be a matter of taste - or, maybe just me. Even attending live performances of most contemporary opera make me twitch in my seat and wish I was doing something else - like cleaning the basement (when I had a basement).
    You don't have to apologise and you explain it very well.

    I feel very much the same and tend to watch a DVD now only for homework purposes before seeing a live opera I've not seen before. I still listen quite a bit but this is during my work commute which would be boring otherwise.

    Eventually I'll be too old to flit about seeing live opera and I'll enjoy watching my DVDs but until then I want to enjoy the wonderful live experience as often as I can.
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

  7. #217
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    You don't have to apologise and you explain it very well.

    I feel very much the same and tend to watch a DVD now only for homework purposes before seeing a live opera I've not seen before. I still listen quite a bit but this is during my work commute which would be boring otherwise.

    Eventually I'll be too old to flit about seeing live opera and I'll enjoy watching my DVDs but until then I want to enjoy the wonderful live experience as often as I can.
    There is nothing like a live performance, and if I had only myself to please I would chase live performances too.

    But I can't and so have to be content with DVDs and CDS.

    I wasn't, by the way, having a go at any of you dear friends who enjoy the audio experience. Just saying that to composers, at any rate, the dramatic impact seemed often to have been as important as the musical. And of course for them, it was always live!
    Natalie

  8. #218
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I think that a good blu-ray disc with surround sound while it doesn't substitute for a live performance, is still much better than listening to the audio track only. I actually even have an opera in 3D, a Covent Garden version of Carmen, and it is very interesting (it does add to the theatrical feeling). I would love to see more operatic 3D discs done; it probably will never happen because 3D is a technology that never really became popular and offers of media and hardware in 3D are actually disappearing even for things like sports (ESPN scratched plans for 3D broadcasting, TV makers are not even making 3D TVs any longer, etc.).

    Nobody doubts that live performances are better. However HD broadcasts, HD DVDs and blu-rays with good sound tracks do help. If we could only see the performances that play in a local theater or during some trips, we'd consume a lot less opera.

    Now, for the audio only crowd (I don't think people here think that Hoffmann is the one Soave was referring to - like he said, he does attend opera in the opera house), I'd say that there is no such thing as an opera without the theatrical part. It would be some other art form, not opera. An opera necessarily has the theatrical part. A part of what an opera is - the audio part - can be recorded in audio-only media, but it's not the whole opera. So, I don't really understand people who say they don't care at all for the staged part of opera and exclusively listen to CDs. I keep thinking that these people, then, should be fans of oratorios, song cycles, symphonic pieces, whatever - not that there is anything wrong with this - but why should they call themselves opera fans? At most, they should call themselves fans of *operatic music.* But this is not the same as opera. Again, there is nothing wrong with being fans of operatic music and disliking or not caring for the theatrical arts aspect of opera. Just, they shouldn't say they are *opera* fans, because an opera can't really exist without its theatrical side. The parts of an opera are inseparable from the whole. You can record the sound only, just as much as you can record the image only (or look at an opera DVD with the sound in mute), but neither part without the other is the whole opera.

    Again, I'm fully aware that what I'm saying is not politically correct. Sometimes I have good people skills. Some other times I just say what I think. Again, if someone exclusively listens to opera CDs, never watches a DVD or blu-ray, and never attends live opera in the opera house, and does so *by choice* (not by necessity of various kinds such as a person being ill and unable to go to an opera house, or having bad eyesight, or living in a place that doesn't have an opera company) then the person is a fan of *operatic music*, not of opera. I can respect that; whatever rocks people's boats is fine with me and I can't impose my tastes to others. Just, the aural only part of opera is not opera, so these people shouldn't call themselves opera fans.

    Yep, maybe it's not politically correct to say so... but I feel so strongly about this (otherwise I wouldn't have included it in my signature line), that I do vent about it sometimes, and this time is one such occasion. So, if this offends someone who only likes to listen to opera, I apologize; but I'll say it anyway.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #219
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    There is nothing like a live performance, and if I had only myself to please I would chase live performances too.

    But I can't and so have to be content with DVDs and CDS.

    I wasn't, by the way, having a go at any of you dear friends who enjoy the audio experience. Just saying that to composers, at any rate, the dramatic impact seemed often to have been as important as the musical. And of course for them, it was always live!
    I came across as arrogant and I apologise. I know I am extremely lucky to have the health and the money for opera trips and fortunate that I only have myself to think about.
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

  10. #220
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    I came across as arrogant and I apologise. I know I am extremely lucky to have the health and the money for opera trips and fortunate that I only have myself to think about.
    Don't think arrogant and sospiro can be said in the same sentence. You deserve every opera trip you get.
    Natalie

  11. #221
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    ...I wasn't, by the way, having a go at any of you dear friends who enjoy the audio experience...
    I don't think anyone reading this post/thread would think this. Your post(s) are very generous and easy to understand, even for a struggling lemur.

    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    I came across as arrogant...
    absolutely not!

    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Don't think arrogant and sospiro can be said in the same sentence...
    absolutely!

  12. #222
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    Now, for the audio only crowd (I don't think people here think that Hoffmann is the one Soave was referring to - like he said, he does attend opera in the opera house), I'd say that there is no such thing as an opera without the theatrical part. It would be some other art form, not opera. An opera necessarily has the theatrical part. A part of what an opera is - the audio part - can be recorded in audio-only media, but it's not the whole opera. So, I don't really understand people who say they don't care at all for the staged part of opera and exclusively listen to CDs. I keep thinking that these people, then, should be fans of oratorios, song cycles, symphonic pieces, whatever - not that there is anything wrong with this - but why should they call themselves opera fans? At most, they should call themselves fans of *operatic music.* But this is not the same as opera. Again, there is nothing wrong with being fans of operatic music and disliking or not caring for the theatrical arts aspect of opera. Just, they shouldn't say they are *opera* fans, because an opera can't really exist without its theatrical side. The parts of an opera are inseparable from the whole. You can record the sound only, just as much as you can record the image only (or look at an opera DVD with the sound in mute), but neither part without the other is the whole opera.
    Opera is such a hybrid art form, it's inevitable people will enjoy various aspects of it, even in highly selective ways that may strike some of us as incomplete. Rather than trying to determine who is or isn't a true opera fan, I'd be more inclined to say that opera is different things to different people.

    I would also submit that an audio-only fan isn't necessarily focusing exclusively on "operatic music." Here we should distinguish between the theatrical and the dramatic: even if you don't have the visual experience of theater (live or filmed), as a listener you can still get caught up in the drama of an opera, experience it in the theater of the mind. This is how I first developed my love of Wagner, long before I saw one his operas on stage or screen.

  13. #223
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    I came across as arrogant and I apologise. I know I am extremely lucky to have the health and the money for opera trips and fortunate that I only have myself to think about.

    It's helpful to have people around - like you folks, to remind me to not take my good fortune to do what I want for granted.

  14. #224
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    It's helpful to have people around - like you folks, to remind me to not take my good fortune to do what I want for granted.
    There have to be *some* people who are free to do whatever they want. I'm grateful for their existence, so the rest of us don't have to take on that burden.

  15. #225
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    Opera is such a hybrid art form, it's inevitable people will enjoy various aspects of it, even in highly selective ways that may strike some of us as incomplete. Rather than trying to determine who is or isn't a true opera fan, I'd be more inclined to say that opera is different things to different people.

    I would also submit that an audio-only fan isn't necessarily focusing exclusively on "operatic music." Here we should distinguish between the theatrical and the dramatic: even if you don't have the visual experience of theater (live or filmed), as a listener you can still get caught up in the drama of an opera, experience it in the theater of the mind. This is how I first developed my love of Wagner, long before I saw one his operas on stage or screen.
    I hear you but we probably aren't talking about the same crowd. I'm referring to people who don't care at all for the dramatic aspects and will make a point of saying it over and over and won't attend opera in the opera house or watch opera recorded in visual media. I'd say that the person who listens to opera experiencing the drama in the theater of their mind, most likely would cherish an opportunity to go and see that opera live on stage.

    See, you're a case in point. You started by loving Wagner in the theater of your mind, and now you're one of the biggest supporters of opera's theatrical side, which wouldn't have happened if you didn't have the theatrical inclination already firmly anchored inside you.

    So, my post wasn't about people like you (and obviously not about Hoffmann either who regularly attends live opera). I was rather thinking of someone else who at some point said that the only true opera lover is the one who only listens to the opera while studying its musical score. Really? That's not an opera. That's operatic music.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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