Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
A Lark Ascending

Opera

113 posts in this topic

Just interested how people take to it, positively or negatively.

There are a zillion reasons why it irritates me:

1. Associated (in the class-ridden UK at least) with toffs (apart from extracted arias and bleeding chunks which have always had much wider popularity).

2. Ridiculously expensive to attend (I'm going to two in the next couple of months and will sit somewhere close to the ozone layer as sensible seats cost a daft price).

3. Absorbs a disproportionate amount of public subsidy (in countries where public subsidy exists).

4. Gets preferential treatment by the BBC and regularly boots less worthy programmes (like Jazz Record Requests) into touch.

5. Generally has daft plots.

6. Has singers who insist on singing in broad 'toff' yet still can't make themselves comprehensible.

7. Conjours up images of Nils and Frasier Crane at their most preposterous.

8. Takes up vast amounts of your life to listen to.

9. Has very bad jokes that everyone has heard before yet still excites knowing titters.

And yet...

Back in the 70s, when I first started exploring classical music, I found myself smitten by certain composers who produced a lot of their music in opera - Strauss ®, Janacek, Britten - so got drawn in. And lying in those operas is some breathtaking music. I even did a course on The Ring in the early 90s that had me waking up hearing Wagner tubas!!!!

So I find myself very uncomfortable with opera. Drawn to it, often excited and overwhelmed by it, yet essentially hating everything it seems to stands for.

How does it get you?

[Edit: intrigued to see Richard Strauss has trademarked his name. Does Johann know?)

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just interested how people take to it, positively or negatively.

There are a zillion reasons why it irritates me:

1. Associated (in the class-ridden UK at least) with toffs (apart from extracted arias and bleeding chunks which have always had much wider popularity).

2. Ridiculously expensive to attend (I'm going to two in the next couple of months and will sit somewhere close to the ozone layer as sensible seats cost a daft price).

3. Absorbs a disproportionate amount of public subsidy (in countries where public subsidy exists).

4. Gets preferential treatment by the BBC and regularly boots less worthy programmes (like Jazz Record Requests) into touch.

5. Generally has daft plots.

6. Has singers who insist on singing in broad 'toff' yet still can't make themselves comprehensible.

7. Conjours up images of Nils and Frasier Crane at their most preposterous.

8. Takes up vast amounts of your life to listen to.

9. Has very bad jokes that everyone has heard before yet still excites knowing titters.

And yet...

Back in the 70s, when I first started exploring classical music, I found myself smitten by certain composers who produced a lot of their music in opera - Strauss ®, Janacek, Britten - so got drawn in. And lying in those operas is some breathtaking music. I even did a course on The Ring in the early 90s that had me waking up hearing Wagner tubas!!!!

So I find myself very uncomfortable with opera. Drawn to it, often excited and overwhelmed by it, yet essentially hating everything it seems to stands for.

How does it get you?

[Edit: intrigued to see Richard Strauss has trademarked his name. Does Johann know?)

No bad connotations here. It's just too expensive to go in person. And I mostly dig 20th C. stuff anyway, which American opera houses almost never do. I've never done one of those Met Opera in the cinema things, because they are always Saturday afternoons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love it and have attended many performances, starting when I was in my early teens and my mother was dating the star tenor of the Royal Danish Opera. I liked his recordings and he was good, but I did not like him anywhere near as much as he liked himself. Fortunately, he did not become my mother's fourth husband—someone else did. ANyway, I love to hear a good opera performance and was very fond of Kathleen Ferrier, whom I heard in concert. Also intrigued by Menotti's "The Medium" and "The Consul." I haven't been to the Met in about 6 years—too expensive now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started to appreciate opera when I used to go to Santa Fe in the summers (to visit my then-wife who played in the orchestra). I liked having the libretto displayed on screens on the seat backs so I could better follow along, but I also became aware of how painfully slowly the plot unfolded.

I'm a big R. Strauss fan, his operas are probably my favorite. Great brass writing and "changes".

Edited by Free For All

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too much vibrato; that's my biggest problem with (most) opera.

As a result, most opera sounds "mostly really overwrought" to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too much vibrato; that's my biggest problem with (most) opera.

As a result, most opera sounds "mostly really overwrought" to me.

.....needs more harmon mute solos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Harmon the Mute could be a great opera.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a big R. Strauss fan, his operas are probably my favorite. Great brass writing and "changes".

I know exactly what you mean by the 'changes'.

Harmon the Mute could be a great opera.

You must write it. Though in Czech.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rehearsing a new, harmonically complex Thad Jones chart with the Jones- Lewis Orchestra, Pepper Adams listened to a fellow member of the band complain about its difficulty and said, "Don't worry -- it's the same changes as 'Death and Transfiguration.'"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rehearsing a new, harmonically complex Thad Jones chart with the Jones- Lewis Orchestra, Pepper Adams listened to a fellow member of the band complain about its difficulty and said, "Don't worry -- it's the same changes as 'Death and Transfiguration.'"

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rehearsing a new, harmonically complex Thad Jones chart with the Jones- Lewis Orchestra, Pepper Adams listened to a fellow member of the band complain about its difficulty and said, "Don't worry -- it's the same changes as 'Death and Transfiguration.'"

Wonder if any jazz charts are based on the changes from 'Wozzeck'?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Bev about most of the complaints on his list.

It must have been in the summer of '73, my former boss who owned a record shop in Brighton, got a load of unsold seats for Richard Strauss' 'Ariadne auf Naxos' at Glyndebourne, so we got my mother-in-law to babysit our daughter and, with a couple of friends, went one beautiful afternoon. I thought the opera stank but the ambiance was sublimely decadent. We picnicked in the park of Glynde House (but we couldn't afford champagne, though there was lots in evidence) and crept into Glynde House and had a long look in the library, which was full of books of my favourite French 19th C authors, even J-K Huysmans. It was such a beautiful occasion, I didn't really mind that the opera stank.

MG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the most part, it's really just Pop Music from a long time ago. When I hear something I like, I take note, but I don't go looking for it. Life just isn't that long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder how far the British perspective is different.

Most other countries have had their revolutions and have evolved at least a pretence that distinctions of wealth and ownership are based on some sort of meritocratic base.

In Britain the presence of class as something inherited remains huge (look at our current government!). Where you are educated carries enormous kudos and that is based on wealth and old boyism.

Enjoying opera almost feels like some sort of class betrayal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my days on the air, I had to read a synopsis of the story before each Sunday broadcast of an opera.It was extremely difficult to do without breaking up. Those scenarios put modern soap opera to shame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that there's a big social class issue in the US as well, in that the only people who can now afford to buy tickets are (at very least) upper middle class.

It was different not all that many decades ago, when there were many small touring opera companies that went barnstorming all around the country - they did operas and operettas. I know that my grandparents enjoyed going to operettas when they were young (back in the 19-teens and 20s), when traveling companies had gigs at area "opera houses."

Theater used to be much more accessible re. Broadway stage stars going on extended tours with touring companies that were able to mount a number of shows, depending on audience interest and so on.

But that all died out some decades ago, shortly after the end of WWII.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sports is the American opera.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sports is the American opera.

There is improvisation and unpredictability in sports, so...nope, don't think do.

American sports is more like the actions of jazz presented on the stage of Stadium Rock (is there still such a thing?), with all the advantages & disadvantages & refinements & corruptions that you might imagine from combining those two things.

Reality TV, that's the American opera.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm talking about where people put their money, time and energy

toward an event - not the performance aspect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, if opera could give me an Adrian Beltre 162 days out of the year instead of All That Same Old Same Old whenever they come a-passin' through, they might get some of my money and time.

As far as energy, good luck getting blood outta that turnip! :g

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was different not all that many decades ago, when there were many small touring opera companies that went barnstorming all around the country - they did operas and operettas.

My Dad sang in the chorus of local opera company here in Portland, Oregon. I can remember going up to Washington Park where they would perform outdoors. I specifically recall them doing Samson & Delilah. Occasionally, big name singers would come through town and the company my Dad was with would back them up. The one name I can recall performing here was Salvatore Baccoloni who was quite a well-known Italian bass. As I recall, the performed The Barber of Seville. This would have been in the late '50's. Try finding anything even close to this now on a local level. It just doesn't exist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder how far the British perspective is different.

Most other countries have had their revolutions and have evolved at least a pretence that distinctions of wealth and ownership are based on some sort of meritocratic base.

In Britain the presence of class as something inherited remains huge (look at our current government!). Where you are educated carries enormous kudos and that is based on wealth and old boyism.

Enjoying opera almost feels like some sort of class betrayal.

I think you are on to something. I think the "class system" has influence on many of your posts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my money, "Cosi Fan Tutti" and "The Magic Flute" are two of the greatest works there are, regardless of medium. "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni," too. As perpetually hip, wise, and, if performed well, as moving as Shakespeare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my money, "Cosi Fan Tutti" and "The Magic Flute" are two of the greatest works there are, regardless of medium. "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni," too. As perpetually hip, wise, and, if performed well, as moving as Shakespeare.

The Ring Cycle?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you are on to something. I think the "class system" has influence on many of your posts.

I'm well aware of that!

Though it's worth remembering that the thing about the British class system is that it is raw and exposed (people only have to open their mouths). Doesn't mean it's not there in countries that view themselves as essentially egalitarian. And snobbery does not necessarily require a class basis.

The odd thing is that up to the 19thC Britain had one of the most fluid class systems in Europe. It was far easier for a successful bourgeois to rise into the aristocracy if they found the right contacts or married well than in, say, France or Spain. We often brag about the fact that (after the 17thC) we had no revolutions; but that seems to have thrown us behind.

[i hasten to add that the existence of the class system here does not turn everyone born into the more privileged side into Wooster-ish toffs. I've met plenty of down to earth and socially aware people who have enjoyed the leg-up that going to the 'right' school provides. And very few of them care about opera!]

**********************

Popular enjoyment of opera arias and choruses has always been there - my dad can whistle and hum loads of them based on pure enjoyment of the tunes and powerful singing. Everything from the Three Tenors to Singing Priests constantly keeps the enjoyment of those pieces current (not to mention 'Go Compare' adverts!). There's always a new 'Best Opera Album You'll Ever Need...Ever!' compilation in the charts. And there have been 'spectacular' performances of things like Aida run by a particular impressario for as long as I can remember.

But 'going to the opera' retains a rather 'superior' haze around it. Not the sort of thing ordinary folk do (but then they don't go to free jazz concerts either!).

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.