Wow I would not agree at all. There is just no comparison with being in the same space as unamplified singers performing in real time.
I don't prefer to experience operas via audio/video recordings, but there's no other chance for me as there's no opera house or even a good concert society in my country and I can't (though wish to) travel easily only to watch operas!2) Have you ever met anyone who generally (and I stress the word generally) prefers to experience opera at home via audio recordings as opposed to hearing it live at the opera house?
And since you stressed generally, have seen nobody else...
Hehe... no one except me!3) Have you ever seen this type of opera lover shake his head while looking on with total bemusement at other opera lovers, critics and directors who constantly fuss about productions and all stage business?
Last edited by Il_Penseroso; Jul-30-2012 at 09:47.
Yes, as my swift days near their goal: Tis all that I implore; In life and death a chainless soul, With courage to endure. (Emily Brontë)
Xavier, music drama is music drama, not absolute music. Get over it.
Wagner, Totality, and Armature Theory.
I follow the theory that the text of Wagner's works are an armature for the music, a plinth for a bust, the lynchpin of the music; essentially unessential and not the heart of the work but still necessary just as an armature is for a statue. As philosophy qua philosophy I believe it worthless. As armature, as lynchpin, excellent, superb, and absolutely necessary for the proper understanding of the essence of his work. Wagner alloys music and text to make what would be weak separately into something very strong. Reduce stainless steel to its raw molecular components and what you have will have is something rusty and brittle. This is why any attempts to analyze Wagner's work in terms of the music alone or as a poem along will do absolute injustice to the works and fail to capture the essence of the works. The pseudo-philosophy that music and words are somehow on fundamentally different fields acts as an invulnerable granite wall that blinds the listener from the magnificence of Wagner's works and allows for theories that pervert Wagner's modulations as a precursor to Schoenberg's mutilations of music.
There is no need to compartmentalize the music and the text and bifurcate them, as if they were polar molecules, as if they were oil and water. Wagner's music dramas are a totality where the whole is more than the sum of its parts, not an aggregate. Synthesis is all about totality, not aggregation, and Wagner's late music dramas are the superlative examples of the synthesis of sound and words in history.
The truth of the matter is that opera — genuine opera; opera as dramma per musica — is NOT about the music, nor is it about the singers (and we here exclude bel canto opera as that genre of opera is, by and large, not genuine opera at all but merely an elaborate showcase for singers). In the minds of opera composers, opera producers, and sophisticated operagoers, opera is first and foremost about the drama — or more correctly, about the music-drama; about dramma per musica; drama where the drama is made sensible or articulated through music supported by the armature of the text which armature provides those narrative and concrete details that music alone is incapable of providing, the whole or gestalt made visible by its acting out onstage. Wagner may have made all of that explicit both in his theoretical writings and in his stageworks the mature examples of which are a veritable apotheosis of opera as dramma per musica, but it is not his invention. Dramma per musica has been the ideal and the goal of opera from opera's very beginnings as a distinct artform in the late-16th, early-17th century the first fully developed example of which is usually attributed to Monteverdi and his L'Orfeo of 1607. That that ideal became corrupted early on and seemingly forever by 17th-century Italian theater owners and producers who, in their commercial greed, wantonly pandered to the sensibilities and appetites of the opera-going groundlings who couldn't have cared less about opera as dramma per musica and which opera-going groundlings, then as now, are always in the vast majority, doesn't alter the ideal one whit. And that's why "want[ing] all the music" is rarely the first consideration. Sometimes, when the dramma per musica has gone off-track by becoming bloated or obscured for reasons having little to do with the realization of the dramma per musica per se (we omit here those cases where the creator's own dramatic sense is defective or wanting as that's another discussion entirely), judicious cuts become necessary to free the work to be realized as its creator envisioned it in its ideal form absent all commercial or other compromise. Needless to say, the aesthetic judgment and operatic knowledge of the cutter is here paramount when the creator of the opera is no longer available for consultation or to do the work himself. Too often cuts are made for reasons commercial or practical which are compromises just as pernicious as the compromises which resulted in the dramma per musica going off-track by becoming bloated or obscured in the first place, and in such cases artistic disaster is almost certain to result, not to speak of a betrayal of the creator of the opera and of his creation.
Informed native German speakers tell me that, as stand-alone text, the libretti for Wagner's music-dramas (which Wagner in fact referred to as "poems") are fairly dreadful both poetically and dramatically. But given how Wagner worked, that's *precisely* what one would expect them to be as stand-alone texts. They're merely the armature about which the drama is constructed -- an armature designed to provide the concrete narrative and factual detail which music alone is incapable of expressing, and which armature never competes poetically or dramatically with the music which is the principal carrier and transmitter of the music-drama's poetic and dramatic core. Wagner, who originally thought his "poems" to be first-rate as poetry and dramatic text in themselves, discovered that for himself after completing the first music for the _Ring_: the music for _Das Rheingold_, his first music-drama. Wrote Wagner in a letter to his confidant August Röckel, "I have now come to realize just how much there is, owing to the whole nature of my poetic aim, that becomes clear only through the music. I now simply cannot bear to look at the text [of _Das Rheingold_] by itself anymore."
While it's true that the texts of the music-dramas were written complete prior to Wagner writing the music, it's NOT correct to say that Wagner wrote the music to match that finished text, which is the usual process, more or less, when composer and librettist are two separate individuals. As Wagner was writing his texts ("poems"), he, line by line, heard always in his inner ear the shape and sense of the music that would belong to those lines even though he'd not written so much as even a single measure of the actual music. It's no surprise, then, and not for nothing, that the text and music of Wagner's music-dramas are, more than the text and music of any other opera of my experience, so fundamentally and organically intertwined, and therefore cannot be separated and be expected [each on its own] to still make their unified original sense. As to Wagner as dramatist -- or, rather, as music-dramatist -- he is absolutely nonpareil with the single exception of Mozart who, it's a deeply-felt conceit of mine, would have outstripped Wagner as music-dramatist had he lived long enough to write the music he longed to write but refrained from writing in order to ensure his earning his daily bread and cheese. And far from Wagner's music-dramas being "long winded, inflated and loud ," as Mr. AI would have it, Wagner was perhaps the most economical composer of _drammas per musica_ who ever lived, the length of his works dictated by the depth and complexity of their musico-dramaturgy, and "loud" only when loud was dictated by the musico-dramatic context of the drama itself.
Last edited by brianwalker; Oct-24-2012 at 15:48.
Listening/loving opera as pure music is like...i don't know what it is like. Such concept does not existe for me.
#2. I generally prefer to stay at home, not because I don't enjoy live performances, but because I have to drive a few hours away, sit next to people who are hacking and coughing in a seat that leaves no room for my broad shoulders to be relaxed. I don't like sitting with my hands in my lap trying to make my shoulder width smaller for 3 hours. If there was an Opera in my town, and I could seat in a proper size seat without being crammed in like a Sardine, I would definitely go.
#3. I don't shake my head at anyone who enjoys opera. Mostly because I don't know anybody else in person who has ever seen or heard one. If I did know someone who was fussy about stage productions, etc. it wouldn't bother me because they obviously enjoy the theater aspect more and there's nothing wrong with that.
Edit: I should have added though that if I do see an opera that is set in a Church for example and the story is talking about the Church and whatnot yet the staging was set in an Airport I would be a little annoyed.
I'm not sure whether this one-hit-wonder thread originator is to be taken seriously, but.... I kind of had the same approach when I first started attending opera. Somehow the music was supposed to carry it all, the words superfluous, and supertitles a distraction. It was all sort of a concert with costumes. With that approach though, it became a matter of dutifully sitting through the more "dramatic" parts and waiting for the more "musical" parts (arias, etc.). Sure, overall I enjoyed it, but after encountering the term dramma per musica and viewing opera as just that, my enjoyment went up many fold.
Several years ago, I started studying original language librettos and my enjoyment went up three times more. Supertitles became a distraction again because now I had an idea how much they often shortchanged or misrepresented the text. I was just reviewing Act I of La Boheme last night. Sure the music is lovely on its own, astoundingly so. But so is the text, and precisely - really perfectly - crafted. It occurred to me that "che gelida manina" is one the most important seduction/romantic scenes in theater, with music or without. To ignore it is to shortchange your experience.
For two, yes and no. I mostly like to listen to operatic music outside during exercise.
For three, no. I can understand why people would be entertained by it (I think it is funny to watch). Although I would sooner create my own story based on an aria than seek out a stage performance (my blog features such notions).