Showing posts from April, 2015

Death-Free Drama

So, nobody dies in Aida.

How's that for a hook? Definitely a good tagline for an opera, "Nobody dies!" isn't it? I'd go see that opera.

But really, think about the plot of Aida for a moment. Set in ancient times, there's a king of a country near northern Africa, and he's fighting against a certain people to whom go our sympathies. This king's daughter is involved in a love triangle with a member of said people and a conflicted third party with interests in both factions. The members of the love triangle are a soprano, a mezzo, and a tenor, but not necessarily in that order. Anyway, through some shenanigans, the conflicted third party is sentenced to death, but don't worry, because member of fought-against-people-to-whom-go-our-sympathies and conflicted third party both survive the Act IV curtain, and presumably live happily ever after. Oh, also, there's a famous chorus in the second scene of some act or another that has people singing about th…

Cloncludo, Concludere

The Bridges Of Madison County: "But what is true is that we loved, and that I loved, and that I love, and I will always love."
Closed in three months after 137 performances.

Candide: "Amo, amas, amat, amamus."
Closed in two months after 73 performances.

Merrily We Roll Along: "That's what everyone does: Blames the way it is on the way it was; on the way it never ever was."
Closed in two weeks after thirteen performances.

Conclusion: Don't even try to conjugate verbs on a Broadway stage.

Is Opera Leavened?

There's a surprising amount of classical musical material for Jewish holidays. Handel has Chanukkah covered with Judas Maccabeus, and Purim with Esther. For Pesach, he gives us Israel In Egypt, and then later on we got La Juive from Halevy, and Mose In Egitto from Rossini. There is also Verdi's Nabucco, which, though not directly associated with any Jewish holiday, has themes applicable to Chanukkah, Mendelssohn's Elijah, the title character of which is invoked in the Passover seder, and Bock and Harnick's Fiddler On The Roof, in which Bryn Terfel will be appearing this summer, so it counts.

Now, Passover starts tonight, so wouldn't today be a good day to rant about one of these? I decided to do Mose In Egitto for two reasons. One, it's the one from this list with which I'm most familiar, and, two, I like bel canto.

Bel canto worked on a lot of Baroque traditions. Vocal frills the most obvious. Also the popular cavatina-cabaletta format, which is something …