Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 22

Thread: Attending the debut of a masterpiece

  1. #1
    Newbies
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    9
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Attending the debut of a masterpiece

    I often imagine what it would have been like to attend the debut of a great opera.
    Can you imagine the excitement, the thrill of attending the first performance of Aida, for instance?
    If I had my choice, I would have been in the audience for the first performance of Strauss' Salome.
    Can you imagine the effect it had on the audience... it must have been a sensation!

    What opera debut above all would you have liked to attend?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,245
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I often attend premieres. Unfortunately it's all by ****** modern composers who think they're cool because they're dissonant.

  3. #3
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4,511
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    You have to read more books about composers and history of music if you think that it was some huge and mass enlightement upon those people. I would like to belive it too, but I'm smart.

    It's quite simple: People in early XXth century attended premiere of Elektra and left opera house disappointed and full of regrets that they were born too late to hear premiere of master Wagner's work. People in XIXth century attented premiere of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and didn't understand it and later they were wondering how it was to attend premiere of some really great opera, like Mozart's Figaro. And contemporaries of Mozart left opera house satisfied with Figaro, a decent work that they enjoyed to some extent and thinking that it's nice that this work will be performed for next two-three weeks, because it probably deserves such long life.

    Many of us are just like them, leaving premieres indiffrent and thinking how unlucky they are, living in era with no more masterpieces.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    New Rochelle, NY.
    Posts
    1,828
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I would have loved to have been in Bayreuth for the opening of that great festival in 1876, when the historic first performances of the complete Ring took place.
    I know,technically, Das Rheingold and Die Walkure had already been performed several years before in Munich for the first time, but Siegfried and Gotterdammerung were premieres.
    But this was the first time the complete Ring was performed. Conditions were very difficult and chaotic for all those who attended,as the facilities for hotels and dining were woefully inadequate, but it must have been an amazing experience !
    Many eminent composers and even heads of state were there .

  5. #5
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    You have to read more books about composers and history of music if you think that it was some huge and mass enlightement upon those people. I would like to belive it too, but I'm smart.

    It's quite simple: People in early XXth century attended premiere of Elektra and left opera house disappointed and full of regrets that they were born too late to hear premiere of master Wagner's work. People in XIXth century attented premiere of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and didn't understand it and later they were wondering how it was to attend premiere of some really great opera, like Mozart's Figaro. And contemporaries of Mozart left opera house satisfied with Figaro, a decent work that they enjoyed to some extent and thinking that it's nice that this work will be performed for next two-three weeks, because it probably deserves such long life.

    Many of us are just like them, leaving premieres indiffrent and thinking how unlucky they are, living in era with no more masterpieces.
    LOL, I think you're absolutely right! But there are exceptions. For example, when either Otello or Falstaff premiered (I read about it but I don't remember which one, I think it was Otello). A huge crowd applauded Verdi with shouts of "Viva Verdi! Viva il Maestro!" and literally carried him on their shoulders to his home, and stayed outside applauding and serenading most of the night. And there are accounts of other opera premieres that drove the audiences so crazy that the artists could barely finish them because people required (and obtained) encores after most arias.

    Later when I get home and browse my opera books I may be able to post a list of premieres that were extremely well received.

    Of course, the opposite is also true, and Verdi brings about another case in point: the premiere of La Traviata was a big fiasco, and it was immediately withdrawn from La Fenice. Verdi wrote a short letter to a friend, saying: "La Traviata: a fiasco. My fault, or the singers'? Time will tell." Time did indeed tell... it's one of the five most popular operas in the world.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  6. #6
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4,511
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Haha, I remember this story, it was Otello indeed, they released horses from his carriage, occupied their places and took his home this way, there had to be special atmosphere in that day, or evening.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    528
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Mostly true Aramis but not completely. Beethoven symphony no. 7 and 9 come to mind as pieces well received at the premiere. Dvorak 9, Brahms 1, Mendelssohn violin concerto as well. Of course these are all and were (except maybe Beethoven 9) extremely accessible pieces, and in todays world of composing, accessible is automatically associated with unintelligent. So yeah, chances of us attending a premiere where we know right there and then that it's a masterpiece are pretty slim. Best you can do is attend premiers of major composers, and hope that they'll go down as masterpieces later.

    Which now begs another question: anyone here ever attended a premiere of a piece that is now famous?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    So as promised here I go with opera premieres that were big successes (I'm skipping the "good" and "very good" as well as the "mixed" receptions - and of course all of the "no data" - and only listing major works that had terrific, rapturous reception, or pretty bad receptions. Just to give you an idea of what I'm skipping, the reception to all four components of The Ring was mixed):

    Big hits:

    Adriana Lecouvreur
    Cavalleria Rusticana
    Don Giovani
    Don Pasquale
    L'Elisir d'Amore
    Ernani
    Falstaff
    Faust
    Die Fledermaus
    Gianni Schicchi
    Giulio Cesare
    Iphigenia in Tauris
    L'Italian in Algeri
    Lakmé
    I Lombardi (I'll never understand why, I find it rather lame and full of problems)
    Lucia di Lammermoor
    Macbeth
    Manon Lescault
    Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
    Orpheus and Eurydice
    Otello (as described above)
    I Pagliacci
    Parsifal
    The Pearl Fishers
    I Puritani
    Rigoletto
    Der Rosenkavalier
    Salome (38 curtain calls, to respond to an earlier post - yes, people went berserk about it)
    La Sonnambula
    The threepenny Opera
    Tosca
    Il Trovatore
    I Vespri Siciliani
    Werther
    William Tell
    Wozzeck

    Poorly received masterpieces:

    The Barber of Seville
    Carmen (Bizet was highly distressed)
    Fidelio (Beethoven was devastated)
    Madama Butterfly
    Maria Stuarda
    Norma
    Tannhäuser
    La Traviata (as described above)

    The list above may give you the wrong impression that major operas were mostly well received, because the list of big hits is longer. But this is deceiving because as a matter of fact, most important operas got mixed receptions - think of every major work that is not listed above, and it was rather mixed, so-so, warm, or somewhat cold, etc. Considering that there are about 22,000 operas, the fact that the 150 or so major works were mostly received in mixed ways (with the above exceptions) doesn't bode well for the discriminating taste of the public.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nix View Post
    Mostly true Aramis but not completely. Beethoven symphony no. 7 and 9 come to mind as pieces well received at the premiere. Dvorak 9, Brahms 1, Mendelssohn violin concerto as well. Of course these are all and were (except maybe Beethoven 9) extremely accessible pieces, and in todays world of composing, accessible is automatically associated with unintelligent. So yeah, chances of us attending a premiere where we know right there and then that it's a masterpiece are pretty slim. Best you can do is attend premiers of major composers, and hope that they'll go down as masterpieces later.

    Which now begs another question: anyone here ever attended a premiere of a piece that is now famous?
    I believe people are talking about opera premieres here, not symphonies.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  10. #10
    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    3,443
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    The list above may give you the wrong impression that major operas were mostly well received, because the list of big hits is longer. But this is deceiving because as a matter of fact, most important operas got mixed receptions - think of every major work that is not listed above, and it was rather mixed, so-so, warm, or somewhat cold, etc. Considering that there are about 22,000 operas, the fact that the 150 or so major works were mostly received in mixed ways (with the above exceptions) doesn't bode well for the discriminating taste of the public.
    Some of that may also have to do with the quality of the performance though. And there were also things like Paisiello fans consciously boycotting the premiere of Rossini's Il Barbiere.
    Martha doesn't signal when the orchestra comes in, she's just pursing her lips..

  11. #11
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    Some of that may also have to do with the quality of the performance though. And there were also things like Paisiello fans consciously boycotting the premiere of Rossini's Il Barbiere.
    True, this Il Barbiere story is rather funny... Fortunately Rossini was tougher than most troubled composers and just carried on.

    And yes, the La Fenice premiere of La Traviata was a big fiasco mostly thanks to the 300-pound soprano they hired to be Violetta, which was supposed to be a strikingly beautiful woman dying of consumption, LOL. Verdi was too busy with the opening of Il Trovatore in Rome a few weeks earlier, and got late to Venice for the rehearsals of La Traviata, past the deadline by which he contractually would have been able to fire spherical soprano Fanny Salvini-Donatelli who was a complete disaster and the butt of the audience's laughs and whistles as she dragged her elephantine frame on the stage, trying to portray a dying beauty. Each time Violetta coughed with tuberculosis, the audience broke off in wild laughter.

    The opera's second run about one year later in Venice as well but in a less prestigious theater (after Verdi had resigned himself to shelve it, but was convinced to revive it by the owner of the smaller theater) was a phenomenal hit, and from there, it took off and is still in the top five today.

    But still, what can explain the fact that the French didn't like Carmen???
    And who in his right mind can not like Norma??? I mean, Norma??? Casta Diva??? Mira, o Norma??? Even poor singers can't avoid the sheer beauty of those melodious arias. One must really screw up big time to manage to make of Carmen and Norma something less than exquisite.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    9,728
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nix View Post
    Which now begs another question: anyone here ever attended a premiere of a piece that is now famous?
    I'm 110 years old and I was at the premiere of Wozzeck in the 1920's.

    But seriously, there have been quite a few pretty good works premiered in our time, such as (our very own Australian) composer Brett Dean's Bliss, and also some by the British Thomas Ades. I'm not really into opera, but I have friends who saw Bliss and thought it was excellent...

  13. #13
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Auckland, NZ
    Posts
    5,848
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I'll vote for Giulio Cesare. It's been an abiding dream of mine to travel back in time and hear a real castrato, and Senesino would have been amongst my top picks.

    On the other hand I'd probably go bats with all the chatting, coming in and out, eating, drinking, and general racket that went along with 18th Century opera audiences. Not to mention the smell of inadequately washed hot human.
    Natalie

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    905
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I've often wished I could have seen the audience's reaction to the prelude of Carmen during its debut. Just a huge torrent of bombastic sound smashing into the audience. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQI5LtRtrb0 for anyone unfamiliar with it. Best enjoyed with speakers turned up )
    I was blown away the first time I watched Carmen and have to imagine that the audience at the time was even more wide-eyed.
    -Ian

  15. #15
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rgz View Post
    I've often wished I could have seen the audience's reaction to the prelude of Carmen during its debut. Just a huge torrent of bombastic sound smashing into the audience. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQI5LtRtrb0 for anyone unfamiliar with it. Best enjoyed with speakers turned up )
    I was blown away the first time I watched Carmen and have to imagine that the audience at the time was even more wide-eyed.
    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.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. The debut concert of the London Internation Orchestra of Academia
    By terry.malka in forum News, Concerts and Events
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: May-19-2006, 03:02

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •