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Thread: Juditha Triumphans: opera or oratorio?

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Default Juditha Triumphans: opera or oratorio?

    What I would like to hear from some of you is the confirmation, that Vivaldi's Juditha Triumphans is just an opera, for ideological/conventional reasons named however 'an oratorio' to please the maecenas he was serving. The same trouble I have with many 'oratoria' of Handel, who are just operas as well (in the period of Lent labeled as 'oratorio').

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    It is most definitely an ORATORIO. There is no staging or action and is meant for concert performance. Therefore, it is an oratorio. No doubt about it

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    That's what I would designate as the 'outside' point of view. From the inside I am of the (humble) opinion, that it has little in common with oratoria (based on biblical themes) but much more with opera with subject matter coming this time from an 'apocryphal' source. Why would it not be possible to add staging & action to Juditha? Exciting enough to see Holofernes' head come off! Suppose we would add staging & action to Bach's St Matthew Passion, would it be an opera? I guess not. (Where you want to stow away all the choirs...) With Juditha however: yes!

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    Well, of course you could devise a 'staging' for it. But then one could argue to do that with many other oratorios, I'm sure. One needs to bear in mind, however, that oratorios are usually 'number works' and they don't need to have a steady plot in mind (yes, as far as the story is concerned, but what about any potential dramatic stage action?). I suspect that's where many would fall down - the work simply wouldn't hang together staged.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Delicious Manager View Post
    Well, of course you could devise a 'staging' for it. But then one could argue to do that with many other oratorios, I'm sure. One needs to bear in mind, however, that oratorios are usually 'number works' and they don't need to have a steady plot in mind (yes, as far as the story is concerned, but what about any potential dramatic stage action?). I suspect that's where many would fall down - the work simply wouldn't hang together staged.
    Unless you hang a story on top of it like Claus Guth did with Messiah.

    I have an urge to see Handel's Solomon staged - the first part with the dispute over the baby could be very dramatic, although I'm not sure about the Queen of Sheba section.
    Last edited by mamascarlatti; Mar-15-2011 at 20:04.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Apart from the staging&action I do not see nor feel anything 'edifying' happening in Juditha, apart from a brave woman putting on harem clothes & belly dancing into the commander's tent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TxllxT View Post
    That's what I would designate as the 'outside' point of view. From the inside I am of the (humble) opinion, that it has little in common with oratoria (based on biblical themes) but much more with opera with subject matter coming this time from an 'apocryphal' source. Why would it not be possible to add staging & action to Juditha? Exciting enough to see Holofernes' head come off! Suppose we would add staging & action to Bach's St Matthew Passion, would it be an opera? I guess not. (Where you want to stow away all the choirs...) With Juditha however: yes!
    But Txllxt, there are secular oratoria as well.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Quote Originally Posted by TxllxT View Post
    What I would like to hear from some of you is the confirmation, that Vivaldi's Juditha Triumphans is just an opera, for ideological/conventional reasons named however 'an oratorio' to please the maecenas he was serving. The same trouble I have with many 'oratoria' of Handel, who are just operas as well (in the period of Lent labeled as 'oratorio').
    Composed and first performed as an oratorio (although the music obviously has operatic qualities). Based on the biblical story of Judith. My version performed by The King's Consort/Robert King etc. Lovely work. Read this if you are keen.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Unless you hang a story on top of it like Claus Guth did with Messiah.

    I have an urge to see Handel's Solomon staged - the first part with the dispute over the baby could be very dramatic, although I'm not sure about the Queen of Sheba section.
    Almost all of Handel's English oratorios can be better described as dramatic oratorios, and would work quite well on stage (of course, subject to a stage director with the right senses and taste!).

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    My argument is to point out the pointlessness of applying strict dogmatic definitions of 'opera' & 'oratorio'. Is an enscenated opera (sung with orchestra without stage-action) all of a sudden not an opera anymore? For Vivaldi and for Handel it helped a lot in their productivity (= earning of daily bread), that they could re-use the arias from their oratoria in their operas & vice versa. Who knows, the bishops & church-audience really thought that they were presented a completely new composition! And who knows, the same happened with those who frequented only the operahouse. Clever guys, Handel & Vivaldi Because of this fertile interchange I am able to undergo & enjoy sometimes an opera (say, Cavalleria Rusticana, the choirsinging coming out of the church, are you not kneeling for this?) momentarily as an oratorio and the other way around as well.

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