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Thread: Attending the debut of a masterpiece

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Like I said above, the audience hated, loathed, despised, and booed the premiere of Carmen.
    Bizet was so crushed that he became profoundly despondent and depressed and died three months later of a heart attack. He never saw the subsequent success, which started when the opera was presented in Vienna after his death. It took five years for Carmen to come back to Paris after encountering wild success everywhere (including New York City). The second time, the reaction was rapturous. Too late for poor Bizet.
    Well then, the Vienna premiere
    -Ian

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    The term masterpiece is generally NOT conferred immediately, but, rather, is given after an extended period of time.

    One rarely ever appreciates the entire forest while from a folding chair in the middle of an isolated glen.

    Why, even today, we could reasonably argue the point.

    Why, why, why this insatiable need to categorize, make lists, prioritize????? I just don't understand what good it does. Someone, PLEASE, tell me!

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keikobad View Post
    Why, why, why this insatiable need to categorize, make lists, prioritize????? I just don't understand what good it does. Someone, PLEASE, tell me!
    It's just human nature. People like to organize their thoughts, especially in such a vast universe as opera's. Lists of masterpieces can actually provide guidance to people who are beginners, so that they can get exposed to the most significant works - of course, then, they'll make up their own minds; like some, dislike others. For example, I personally can't understand what people see in I Lombardi; I don't like Madama Butterfly very much, and while I love the music in Parsifal, I can't stand its libretto. All three are in most lists of so-called "top 100" but not for me (there are many highly regarded operas that don't do much for me, and more obscure operas that do - I just picked these three as examples). So yes, lists are only a starting point, but they can be useful starting points.

    I think that even when we don't formally write down a list, we do keep a sort of "internal, virtual list" of our favorites.

    When I hear or see a new opera (for me), I usually kind of attribute a personal score to it... A+... B-... C...

    I know it's silly, we're not in grade school any longer and there are so many intervening factors that may make me like or dislike a given performance...

    But I still do it, because it provides me a sort of record of what is worth going back to, and what is discardable and I shouldn't waste any further time with it (which only defines my own taste - someone else may love the ones I consider to be Cs and hate the ones I score as As, and there is no intrinsic judgment of value; I just rank what works for me and what doesn't).

    Sure, then later I may actually completely change my mind and knock down in my preference something I had liked, or rediscover something I hadn't... but at the very least, I'll have some fun looking back at how I reacted to a specific opera the first time I was exposed to it.

    Case in point: Rossini's Armida. I was completely blown away. I loved it! Ranked it A++ in my mind. Then later, I thought... meh... it's good but not *that* good.

    The opposite happened with Lakme. I first thought, meh, C+ at best, there are some interesting arias but all very loosely connected with weak orchestration; a collection of good arias doesn't a good opera make, since it's not supposed to be a concert, after all. Later a friend asked me - how many numbers have you actually liked in Lakme? I looked it up in the track listings and said - this one, and this one, and this one, etc - and ended up with a large number of them (I don't remember all the details now). Then my friend said - OK, so, in this opera of a relatively short lenght, you liked this many pieces, and you still couldn't get yourself to like the opera??? Then I thought, oops, OK, maybe higher than C+... and with some revisiting I ended up liking Lakme, although I still see problems with it and is not one of my favorites.
    "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 Keikobad View Post
    Why, why, why this insatiable need to categorize, make lists, prioritize????? I just don't understand what good it does. Someone, PLEASE, tell me!
    Reading other people's lists gives you ideas of what you might wish to explore next, especially if you know you share some enthusiasms in common. Invaluable if like me you are consciously expanding your repertoire.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Reading other people's lists gives you ideas of what you might wish to explore next, especially if you know you share some enthusiasms in common. Invaluable if like me you are consciously expanding your repertoire.
    You said in two lines what I tried to say in 7 paragraphs...

    I feel very verbose now.
    "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 Almaviva View Post
    You said in two lines what I tried to say in 7 paragraphs...

    I feel very verbose now.
    Not at all, because you were also talking about sorting out in your own mind what you like or don't.

    Funnily enough I usually find something to like in most operas I see or hear, and I feel that if I don't, it's because I haven't tried enough.

    But then of course there are operas that are simply balm to the soul on all levels, like Don Giovanni or Nozze di Figaro, and which I keep returning to when I have had enough "new stuff".
    Natalie

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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Funnily enough I usually find something to like in most operas I see or hear, and I feel that if I don't, it's because I haven't tried enough.

    But then of course there are operas that are simply balm to the soul on all levels, like Don Giovanni or Nozze di Figaro, and which I keep returning to when I have had enough "new stuff".
    Ditto. There is always something good even in the biggest stinkers. Hey, this gave me an idea for a fun thread - about operas one *doesn't* like. I'll start one.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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