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Showing posts from March, 2018

An Open Letter to Charlotte Jones, David Zippel, and Andrew Lloyd Webber

A revival of the 2004 musical The Woman In White (based on the novel by Wilkie Collins) concluded its revival run in London to generally lukewarm reviews. Better than the original production, but still not great. One of the reviews pointed out that by shortening the already-condensed show into two hours, it leaves little room for character development while also trying to cram in all that plot. Other common complaints were that Andrew Lloyd Webber's score does not coalesce, and that the drama is muddled. This makes sense. The Woman In White is a gothic thriller that takes at least a half-hour to give a sensible synopsis of. This is not going to be one of your pleasant small-theater murder mystery musicals that can be done by ten in the evening. At the same time, many of the revisions made (at least, according to reviews -- I'm not in London) seem to be in the right direction. But much more can be done.

So here's an open letter to Charlotte Jones, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and D…

Babylonian Captivity

I don't understand why the character of Idreno in Semiramide exists.

I mean, I get why he exists. Rossini needed to write a starring role for whatever tenor. Probably that's the reason, or something like that. But surely he could have been given some bearing on the actual plot?

Idreno's role is essentially that of one of the extra suitors in any fairy tale about a princess who has to marry one of three people, and they go in order to face some sort of riddle or challenge, and only the hero of the story will succeed and win the princess' hand. Arsace is the hero. Idreno is one of the other guys. Is it a problem that he exists? Not especially. Rule of three more or less dictates that someone has to be there, and it may as well be a tenor. What bothers me more is that the opera spends half an hour and two major arias on him. Semiramide herself only has one solo aria. If you cut Idreno's arias, and reduce him to an extra body on stage with a few lines, nothing fundament…