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Showing posts from December, 2015

Disney Animated Opera

People like to complain about the terrible lessons of the old Disney films. Cinderella is too passive. Belle has Stockholm Syndrome. Ariel is just an idiot. And they've tried to appeal more to modern audiences by deviating from the standard stories and creating more proactive princesses in films such as The Princess And The Frog and Frozen, often to the point of feeling really self-conscious and heavy-handed. Not to detract from these movies, of course (and certainly not to detract from the scores, most of which are very good and by Alan Menken). I didn't generate these complaints. I'm relaying them secondhand, and relaying them because I think I can offer a suitable alternative. Several of these classic fairy tales have ready-made operatic alternatives with smart protagonists, good morals, good music, and are out of copyright and already Disney-ready. So to the Disney execs reading this (I know you're out there among my half-dozen or so readers I'm sure I dearly h…

Perusing Prunier

In spite of my last post, and perhaps against my better judgment, I really want to like La Rondine. It's a hodgepodge of romantic cliches, but I see why the characters and setting would have been appealing to Puccini. Well, except for the fact that he didn't seem to write any other operas that even approach being similar. Maybe a little Manon Lescaut. And on the face of it, La Rondine seems like, if not phenomenal, it should at least be a good respectable opera like Francesca Da Rimini. Zandonai's Francesca opera, by the way, is one I readily cite as an example of a terrific score making up for perhaps a less-than-satisfactory libretto. But to me, La Rondine falls flat. But I want to like it. So I'm going to dissect it, focusing on the character of Prunier, the poet. Because when all else fails, making things meta automatically makes them better.

Prunier is the first character to whom we're really introduced. He is a poet, and he has a half-finished song about a wo…

Happy Birthday Puccini! Now, A Question...

Dear Puccini,
First off, happy birthday! Thanks for the great operas and all that. Now, can I ask you a question about La Rondine? The question is... well, La Rondine. I don't get it. I mean, I understand it, but it's like Act I of Die Fledermaus followed by Act II of La Boheme followed by the first half of Act II of La Traviata, but without the baritone part that makes it legit. And then no one dies! So, good job on the music and all that. It's probably one of my favorite scores from you. But... La Rondine. What's up with that?

If You Want To Know Who We Are

Listen up, because I'm about to fix all of the race problems The Mikado may or may not have. My solution is simple and elegant. Set The Mikado in Scotland.

When Sidney Grundy wrote the libretto to Haddon Hall for Sullivan to set, he used a Scottish character to justify some extremely strained rhymes. It is, therefore, I think excusable to make the first line of the show "If you want to know who we are, we are gentlemen of Scotlan'." And all occurrences of the word "Japan" are replaced with "Scotland" and ditto with their respective adjectives. In the case where a three syllable substitute for "Japanese" is needed, the word "highlander" will do, and I don't think anyone will complain.

As for names, well all we need to do is stick on a prefix. Pooh-bah? MacPooh-bah. Nanki-poo? MacNanki-poo. Pitti-sing? Pitti O'Sing. And if the accent is thick enough. No one will care. They'll just hear a sound they assume is a name. A…