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Thread: Yvonne Princesse de Bourgogne

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    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    Default Yvonne Princesse de Bourgogne

    Sunday I attended a performance of a contemporary opera: "Yvonne, Princesse de Bourgogne" (Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy), by Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans.

    As usual with showings of contemporary work, I went with the attitude that I prefer to work to be excessively good or excessively short. (deep down, I prefer them both at the same time). Upon arrival I spotted that the work lasted 2h30 which wasn't all that bad.

    I was captivated from the beginning. A modernistic, dissonant prelude instantly set to mood. The dissonant but not agressive style that lasted throughout the work was matched with interesting orchestration: a low number of strings, a big set of woodwinds, piano, celesta and a whole regiment of percussion provided a lot of variation.

    Melody could be derived, often constructed from easily recognisable motifs. From time to time the composer makes reference or quotes other composers. Certain morcels clearly remember Stravinsky's rite of the spring, a courtly dance accompanied by a neo-baroque minuet, and a lot of influence from Debussy (especially when it came to text-music).

    The libretto, based on a work by Witold Gombrowicz, was intersting by itself. Prince Philip of Burgondy decides in a folly that he will marry an ugly and attractive girl. The whole court mocks her and the prince's decision. The girl however, is so off-setting and not familiar with the proceedings of the court that the dignitaries of the court make fools out of themselves when interacting with her (the king and queen end up bowing to her etc.) Once the prince comes to his senses, the whole court is set on getting rid of the ugly thing from their artificial surrounding. All in all comedic scenes, but with a cynic undertone of social commentary.

    I can definitely reccomend this work to those that have difficuly engaging in modern opera. It's easily accesible musically, and the libretto is a delicious cynical comedy.

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    I have encountered Boesmans' music before and agree that he strikes a delicate path between originality and accessibility very well. Perhaps surprisingly, there is an aria from Yvonne on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AX_fYJcw8Q

    And apologies for my comments on another post of yours from a few weeks ago about the definition of classical music. I am new to this forum (although not some others) and didn't realise your comment was a joke. Of course, there are some people who think you just have to play any piece of music on the piano or violin to make it 'classical'.

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    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    I'd like to mention that that air isn't exactly representative to the kind of work Yvonne is, it's just one of those airs in a "style" (there's also a baroque dance etc.)

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