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Thread: Modern opera on DVD and Blu-ray

  1. #136
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Thanks Alma, I LOVE Spanish music so this is on my wishlist. Or maybe I'll put it on the library's wishlist seeing as I have such a backlog and am in no hurry.
    Natalie

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    Hopefully, I will watch Ainadamar live next year at Teatro Real. This CD shows a rather bland music, in my opinion. Dawn Upshaw is a great singer, but her spanish is awful.

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schigolch View Post
    Hopefully, I will watch Ainadamar live next year at Teatro Real. This CD shows a rather bland music, in my opinion. Dawn Upshaw is a great singer, but her spanish is awful.
    Well, you speak from a much better vantage point, and I defer to you. I liked it a lot, but I'm certainly not as familiar with the culture and the accent as you are. This is similar to my enthusiasm for the Met version of Eugene Onegin; then I invited a Russian friend to watch it with me - she knows the opera by heart and can sing along most parts, and she thought that Renée Fleming's accent was awful, and told me that in the numerous occasions when she saw the opera live in Moscow, the performances were much better. So, for me, it was spectacular, but for her, talking from inside the culture and the language, she had seen better and was disappointed.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. #139
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    There are different musical sources blending in Ainadamar. However, the most important reference is of course flamenco, with the guitar, part of the singing, the Ramón Ruiz Alonso character vocal treatment ... “Mariana, tu cuello” origin is a long and slow 'rumba', treated somewhat similar to Ravel's Bolero. We can even trace renaissance and late Romanticism influences.

    It's interesting the way Mariana's ballad is articulating the different opera sections, allowing us to understand better events in "real" time, and "psychological" time.

    However, I do find the opera too eclectic, too easy... Also, the libretto was written in english, by David Henry Hwang, and translated to spanish by Golijov himself, and the final result is not very good, in my view.

    Some friends went this summer to watch the opera live in Granada (the place where Lorca was killed) and got a somewhat better opinion. I will be happy to watch this in the theater next year.


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    Judith Weir (Cambridge, 1954) is a british composer and teacher, former disciple of John Tavener. In her career of more than thirty years, opera had always been present.



    Her best operatic piece, in my view, is A Night at the Chinese Opera, premiered in 1987 with a libretto by Weir herself. The action takes place in 13th century China. In the second act a performance of a chinese opera: "Chao's family orphan", is included on the plot, in which Chao, a civil engineer attending the performance, is trying to avenge his father, only to be executed before reaching his goal.

    Apart from England, the opera had also been performed in the US.

    Musically, the influence of Britten is paramount, as well as Stravinsky and sounds coming from folklore sources, of which Weir is particularly fond. The final result in this opera is really good.

    We can hear below "Aria with rising floodwaters", from the first Act.

    Aria with rising floodwaters - A Night at the Chinese Opera - Judith Weir

  6. #141
    Senior Member ooopera's Avatar
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    Great! I got her opera Blond Eckbert few days ago. But I haven't watched it yet.

  7. #142
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    Many of you will have watched David Lynch's movie, Lost Highway.

    Based on this movie, Olga Neuwirth wrote in 2003 this opera of the same title, with a libretto by the Nobel Prize winner, Elfriede Jelinek. Apart from Austria, there have been performances also in Germany, Switzerland, the US and the UK.

    This is strictly for lovers of avant-garde opera, only.


  8. #143
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Salvatore Sciarrino: Luci mie traditrici on CD



    Luci mie traditrice, Opera in due atti, premiered in 1998, sung in Italian (short prologue sung in French)
    Music by Salvatore Sciarrino (1947- )
    Libretto by Salvatore Sciarrino, after Il Tradimento per L'Onore, by Giacinto Andrea Cicognini, 1664, and an eulogy by Claude Le Jeune, 1608

    Studio recording, done in Vienna, November 14 and 15, 2000
    Conductor: Beat Furrer
    Orchestra: Klangforum Wien

    Cast:
    Annette Stricker, soprano - La Malaspina (The Countess)
    Otto Katzamaier, bass-baritone - Il Malaspina (The Count)
    Kai Wessel, countertenor - L'Ospite (guest)
    Simon Jaunin, baritone - Servo (servant)

    Kairos Music release, 2001, in one CD, DDD, running time 68:41
    Libretto included, in original Italian (small part in French), and translations into French, English, and German + production pictures, essay, synopsis, a message from the composer, biography of the artists with their pictures, history of the orchestra, fragments of correspondence and witness account between the real-life characters

    ------

    Salvatore Sciarrino is a contemporary composer of avant-garde opera and other musical genres, who lives in his native Italy in the Citta di Castella in Perugia, and teaches composition at the Florence conservatory. He is a prestigious composer who has held several faculty appointments in Palermo and Milan, and has received several prizes, with a catalog of more than 130 pieces (one of the most extensive body of works among contemporary composers). According to him, in addition to having been a disciple of Franco Evangelisti's, Stockhausen was a major influence on his music.

    This is one of many of his avant-garde operas, played here by an ensemble of soloists specialized in contemporary music.

    Sciarrino's music is very unique, especially his vocal writing, often using long extensions of the vowels and short bursts of the other syllables, completely altering the dynamics of the words, with added complex melismas. These techniques are not only intriguing, but also convey a very Italianate melodic sense. The orchestration and instrumental parts are vanishing and phantasmagorical, and evoke blowing winds, breathing, neighing horses, sounds of nature (birds, insects), and percussion. Silence occurs often, which then goes from this state of zero sounds to a multitude of microscopic sounds and whispers and soft noises that seem to reproduce the sonorous real-life universe that surrounds the characters.

    The result in my opinion is *extremely* powerful. It starts with the exquisite, sensitive, and poetic libretto, which makes use of very short phrases, at times one-word sentences that parade in rapid succession, but still manage to perfectly convey the strong feelings that the characters of this opera are going through. Then, the music impacts on the work a very realistic sense of dread and doom, of emotional intensity and impending tragedy - affects like love, fear, jealousy, lust, horror are very well tone-painted.

    The piece can be read and heard like a growing nightmare. It makes me think of Verdi's Otello, in its claustrophobic and inexorable progression to the shocking last scene. Of course, the musical structure of these two works couldn't be more different, but the atmosphere is quite similar. The musical style on the other hand reminded me of another piece I liked a lot recently, Itinerário do Sal by Portuguese contemporary composer Miguel Azguimes. While Azguime's opera is even more adventurous and makes abundant use of electronic music, these two pieces do share this ability to work with the sounds of a word and manipulate it to achieve expressive power.

    Cicognini's text on which the composer based his libretto is about a real episode in the life of Renaissance composer Don Carlo Gesualdo, son of the Prince of Naples and heir to his father's court, who brutally murdered his wife Maria d'Avalos in 16th century Naples when he discovered that she had taken a lover, the Duke of Andria, Don Fabrizio Carafa. Don Carlo married his young and pretty cousin Maria in an arranged political marriage, and after fathering a son with her to secure to himself an heir, he turned to hunting and music and completely neglected his wife. Bored, she let herself be seduced by the Duke who was a guest in her home. Don Carlo learned about it from his uncle (not before the uncle also tried to seduce Maria and was rejected), staged a fake hunting trip, came back with three or four thugs, broke into his wife's quarters and surprised the two lovers in bed. The thugs brutally murdered the Duke under Maria's eyes using multiple weapons, and after he was reduced to a bloody pulp Don Carlo stabbed her to death. Given his noble birth and the fact that it was a "honor killing" Don Carlo didn't suffer any legal consequence of his action, but remained to his death haunted by what he had done and still in love with his dead wife.

    Yes, the stuff for opera all right!

    In the opera, the characters are simply called the Count and the Countess (Don Carlo and Maria in real life); instead of the uncle we get a servant who also loves the countess and out of jealousy denounces her to the cuckolded husband, and the Duke is simply called The Guest. The murder scene is toned down as opposed to what really happened - The Count brings his wife to the bedroom after the Duke has already been murdered and is laying on the bed under the bed covers; he pulls off the bed covers and shows her the dead body of her lover, then stabs her. There are no thugs and no scene with the brutal multi-weapon killing.

    The libretto does not entirely convey the action. The verbal exchanges are more like snippets of raw emotions than real storytelling. One rather follows what goes on inside the minds of the characters. They talk to each other but it is the depiction of love and fear, etc., that comes through. Things are implied more than said. One needs the synopsis to follow what is going on, in the absence of visual media.

    The opening scene - the prologue in French based on the eulogy mentioned above in the source material - is very poetic and sets the tone perfectly for what will happen, and is given an orchestral treatment that recurs later in modified form.

    Singing by two of the three principals is truly excellent. This is extremely difficult vocal writing, requiring lots of agility, and Ms. Stricker and Mr. Katzameier do a spectacular job. Mr. Wessel on the other hand is not among the best countertenors I've heard. Mr. Jaunin has a small and simple role with no big vocal demands; basically his role calls for little more than a little declamation so it is harder to pass judgment on his voice.

    Conductor and orchestra certainly perform this inventive score competently.

    Those who are not familiar with or not fond of avant-garde opera may balk at this. I found it truly excellent, and highly recommended.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Sep-09-2011 at 14:20. Reason: typo
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  10. #144
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    This is one of the great operas of our times, in my view. I've watched it in the theater, conducted by Furrer and with the Klangforum Wien, exactly like in this recording. With a powerful staging by German artist Rebecca Horn, and it was really a wonderful experience.

    As mentioned by Almaviva, the action is highly stylized. Here we can see the production for the Opéra National de Lyon, with Maria Riccarda Wesseling and Otto Katzameier:



    Perhaps the most succesful of all Sciarrino's techniques in this opera, is the way he is transforming along the opera this beautiful 16th century elegy by Claude Le Jeune:



    Qu'est devenu ce bel oeil qui mon âme éclairait ja de ses rais.
    Dans qui l'Amour retrouvait ses fléches, flammes et traits?
    Qu'est-la bouche or, devenue et ce ris si mignard, et ce discours
    Dont ma maîtresse attrapait le plus farouche en amours?
    Qu'est devenue cette joue et d'amour et de honte le pourpris.
    Sur qui l'Amour étalait cent mille roses et lys?
    Qu'est devenu le fin or de ce poil prime frisé reluisant,
    Dont mille Amours, mille rets...


    first into an instrumental piece, and then deforming it bar by bar, until just before the last scene it has been converted into an unbearable avatar of distress and suffocation.

  11. #145
    Senior Member ooopera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schigolch View Post
    This is one of the great operas of our times, in my view. I've watched it in the theater, conducted by Furrer and with the Klangforum Wien, exactly like in this recording. With a powerful staging by German artist Rebecca Horn, and it was really a wonderful experience.
    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I'm so jealous.


    Is anyone familiar with Sciarrino's work Lohengrin?

  12. #146
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    This is an interesting piece (and with a very good recording conducted by Tito Ceccherini), but it's clearly a step, or two, below Luci. More for Sciarrino's aficionados, that for the wider audience, in my view.


  13. #147
    Senior Member ooopera's Avatar
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    I was just planning to buy it, but I was thinking about version with Salvatore conducting. So do you prefer Tito Ceccherini's recording?

  14. #148
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    Ceccherini's hard to beat conducting Sciarrino.

  15. #149
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schigolch View Post
    This is one of the great operas of our times, in my view. I've watched it in the theater, conducted by Furrer and with the Klangforum Wien, exactly like in this recording. With a powerful staging by German artist Rebecca Horn, and it was really a wonderful experience.

    As mentioned by Almaviva, the action is highly stylized. Here we can see the production for the Opéra National de Lyon, with Maria Riccarda Wesseling and Otto Katzameier:



    Perhaps the most succesful of all Sciarrino's techniques in this opera, is the way he is transforming along the opera this beautiful 16th century elegy by Claude Le Jeune:



    Qu'est devenu ce bel oeil qui mon âme éclairait ja de ses rais.
    Dans qui l'Amour retrouvait ses fléches, flammes et traits?
    Qu'est-la bouche or, devenue et ce ris si mignard, et ce discours
    Dont ma maîtresse attrapait le plus farouche en amours?
    Qu'est devenue cette joue et d'amour et de honte le pourpris.
    Sur qui l'Amour étalait cent mille roses et lys?
    Qu'est devenu le fin or de ce poil prime frisé reluisant,
    Dont mille Amours, mille rets...


    first into an instrumental piece, and then deforming it bar by bar, until just before the last scene it has been converted into an unbearable avatar of distress and suffocation.
    Yeeeess! I knew I was leaving something out. I didn't pay much attention in my review to the eulogy, didn't even include it in the sources, and it is perfectly listed there in the credits. I found it beautiful and a *spectacular* opening scene (it's the prologue in French I've mentioned) but then got so fascinated by the development of the story itself that I forgot to include it in my review. Thanks for highlighting it, it is indeed very special. I'll include a few words about it and will blog my review because this opera deserves more exposure.

    By the way, if anybody less familiar with contemporary works questions the operatic nature of this material, this would be extremely misguided. It couldn't be more operatic than this, since the beautiful and intriguing vocal singing entirely drives the piece and tells the story. A formidable work!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  16. #150
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    Operatic singing in our days must be able to express itself without referring to the past, or become a senseless mumbling... This singing must be intelligible and the basis to transmit the drama...


    Salvatore Sciarrino



    This is "new" Opera, indeed. The plot is a quite traditional one: a husband kills her wife, and her wife's lover, inflamed by jealousy. However, the treatment is profoundly antinaturalistic. There is an overwhelming sensation of serenity, of gentleness, of a certain resignation. All the opera is a masterpiece of understatement.

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