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View Poll Results: Modern Opera

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  • Why doesn't anybody write MUSIC any more?

    3 27.27%
  • I never listen to anything with a melody, a beat or a harmony. Too boring!

    1 9.09%
  • Occasionally love it, usually not.

    2 18.18%
  • Other

    5 45.45%
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Thread: Modern Opera

  1. #1
    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Default Modern Opera

    I don't know what the breakdown is here, of people that love modern opera and those that don't, so I thought I'd try a poll. If you think up an option you would have selected that's better than "Other" please let us know!
    Last edited by guythegreg; Sep-05-2012 at 19:26. Reason: correction

  2. #2
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    I understand you.

    When not even a simple leitmotif can we whistle... It harms none other than the opera itself (genre or this particular one) because it alienates/excludes people.

    Or maybe opera composers think that writing a melody is too mainstream and the more you turn it into an underground scene the better...
    Last edited by dionisio; Sep-05-2012 at 19:42.

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    I don't know what you really mean with the term "Modern Opera": Contemporary, 20th Century up to our days or the last few decades?
    As a first reply, I could simply state that, gradually in the course of 20th century, there has been a decline of the production of Operas in the mainstream or for the Grand Theatres. One of the reasons could be found in the fact that, with the exception of Britten and very few others, composers relied on other genres for their output to show their compositional depth.
    On the other hand, the classically trained voices tend, almost always and almost exclusively, to show their strength and quality in works written for the glory of the operatic voices, namely mostly the Classic Italian, French or German and, occasionally, Russian or Slavic tradition. So, the "modern" composers have to rely on specialised voices of not so solid beauty or quality to perform normally roles of modest vocal proportions and not in an idiomatic operatic frame and form (see even the case of Britten).
    As long as no composer, nowadays, would dare to write arias, duets and ensembles for great voices, with solid and memorable (Opera, as a form of Theatre -in Music-, should be something to remember) melodic lines, the genre would be in a constant decline and addressed only to a specific and meagre audience.

    Principe

  4. #4
    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    I love all kinds of opera, thought my favourites are Wagner and then early twentieth century operas.

    One of my favourites is this which I recommend greatly, though no chance for whistling tunes:


    I dont think at all that melody is such an important thing, in fact - on many occasions melody disturbs the dramatic structure.
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

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    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I usually prefer works from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. However, I'm willing to listen to new operas. Some are better than others, but that was true for operas of previous centuries. (I'm probably one of the few who likes or is even familiar with the operas of Ferdinando Par.) However, modern operas work best for me when I can attend live performances, or at least watch videos. I can't imagine just listening to audio recordings of them.
    mamascarlatti likes this.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Vesteralen's Avatar
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    I hate recitative in any opera,and I'm afraid most modern operas seem like 100% recitative to me. Vocal music without melody is seldom pleasant to me unless, like some non-melodic instrumental music, it can create an interesting atmosphere or effect. To use it to try to tell a story seldom works.

    When I hear this kind of piece, my thought isn't - 'wow, this composer composed this non-melodic vocal music on purpose because it's the best way to tell the story!' It's more, "too bad this composer got sucked into the you-must-avoid-melody-at-all-costs mindset'.

    Unsophisticated, I know.

  7. #7
    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    I dont think many people would dispute the fact that Opera is intended to be seen in a theater. Opera seems to lose the most in reproduction on recordings and DVDs of all the art forms. How many of you who voted for the first option have actually seen a contemporary opera in the theater?
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

  8. #8
    Senior Member Vesteralen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emiellucifuge View Post
    I dont think many people would dispute the fact that Opera is intended to be seen in a theater. Opera seems to lose the most in reproduction on recordings and DVDs of all the art forms. How many of you who voted for the first option have actually seen a contemporary opera in the theater?
    Good point. My experience has come entirely from the other two media you mentioned.

    I was using a little hyperbole, too. I have seen some modern operas on DVD that I could sit through, and that even had a scene or two I enjoyed (Doctor Atomic is one recent one that comes to mind).

    How that would play out in a real theater, I have no idea. I seldom go to the opera, and the local opera company hardly ever puts on anything really modern.

    I just know that there are quite a few moments from Operas on DVD that I would gladly play for an uninitiated friend and say "Listen to this!", but no example of a non-melodic kind comes to mind. If I listen at all, it's a solitary experience.

    The closest example to an unconventional opera I can think of that I would play for a friend is the beautiful DVD of Stravinsky's "Le Rossignol", and that's hardly non-melodic.

  9. #9
    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    I must say that despite my love for modern opera, I dont at all enjoy watching them on DVD, so if you ever do have the chance I would recommend going to see one. There are some real operatic masterpieces from the past 50 years.
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

  10. #10
    Super Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    I think it's more a question of getting used to the idiom. I am making a real effort to see more moderen opera (yes, see rather than listen to, I agree with Mary there) and I am getting to like it more as I get used to it. Ones that have worked particularly well for me are Birtwistle's The Minotaur, Sariaaho's L'Amour de Loin, and Sciarrino's Luci mie traditrici. I'm still to see die Soldaten but it's on my little list, emiel.

    I also like Philip Glass and John Adams but I'm much more accustomed to the minimalist sound as I listened to a lot of their orchestra works (particularly Glass) before getting back into opera.

    Britten I don't see as a modern composer in quite the same way, he certainly could never be accused of being unmelodic, Billy Budd will transport you in an instant to the the deck of a man'o'war with its gorgeous surging choruses.
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    Natalie

  11. #11
    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post

    Britten I don't see as a modern composer in quite the same way, he certainly could never be accused of being unmelodic, Billy Budd will transport you in an instant to the the deck of a man'o'war with its gorgeous surging choruses.
    Thats good to hear! Ive got tickets to Death in Venice next summer; it'll be my first Britten opera in the theater. (Though Ive conducted his opera Noye's Fludde)
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    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

  12. #12
    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    I'll give anything a go. Modern opera sometimes more getting used to. I have a recording of Rautavaara's Vincent, which is rather strange, but becomes better with repeated listenings and the libretto handy.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emiellucifuge View Post
    Thats good to hear! Ive got tickets to Death in Venice next summer; it'll be my first Britten opera in the theater. (Though Ive conducted his opera Noye's Fludde)
    Jealous much, Death in Venice is my latest love in his operas. I'm watching the Visconti film of the same name at the moment, attracted by the thought of a Mahler-fest.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dionisio View Post
    It harms none other than the opera itself (genre or this particular one) because it alienates/excludes people.

    Or maybe opera composers think that writing a melody is too mainstream and the more you turn it into an underground scene the better...
    Right, I really would love to know what composers are thinking ...

  15. #15
    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by principe View Post
    I don't know what you really mean with the term "Modern Opera": Contemporary, 20th Century up to our days or the last few decades?
    Well, I was kind of thinking people would figure out what I meant from the options I wrote ... the key distinction being the apparent absence of melody, rhythm and harmony in certain operas, and that absence defining the term.

    As a first reply, I could simply state that, gradually in the course of 20th century, there has been a decline of the production of Operas in the mainstream or for the Grand Theatres. One of the reasons could be found in the fact that, with the exception of Britten and very few others, composers relied on other genres for their output to show their compositional depth.
    On the other hand, the classically trained voices tend, almost always and almost exclusively, to show their strength and quality in works written for the glory of the operatic voices, namely mostly the Classic Italian, French or German and, occasionally, Russian or Slavic tradition. So, the "modern" composers have to rely on specialised voices of not so solid beauty or quality to perform normally roles of modest vocal proportions and not in an idiomatic operatic frame and form (see even the case of Britten).
    Interesting ... so you kind of attribute it to the reduced quality of voices available for traditional roles. Well, who knows ...

    As long as no composer, nowadays, would dare to write arias, duets and ensembles for great voices, with solid and memorable (Opera, as a form of Theatre -in Music-, should be something to remember) melodic lines, the genre would be in a constant decline and addressed only to a specific and meagre audience.

    Principe
    I can see you've put some thought into it ... thanks!

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