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Thread: Contemporary opera

  1. #31
    Senior Member Sloe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentio View Post
    schigolch , would you recommend any contemporary Japanese opera? What a shame that Toru Takemitsu never composed any opera.
    If you are interested here is a youtube channel with several operas by Shigeaki Saegusa.
    Shigeaki Saegusa have also composed much music for anime including the background music for Astro Boy.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs5...DFTaLVbKDjbYpA

    Chushingura from 1997 is an opera with nice music based on the story of the 47 Ronin.




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  3. #32
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    I don't have any Japanese opera either... But I didn't know Hosokawa had any! I'll need to hear one.

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    Robert Ashley was one of the most personal voices in the American opera of the last 40 years.


    His music, with an important electronic flavour, sometimes quietly repetitive, sometimes even surprisingly melodic, included a fascinating exploration of the spoken voice, in contraposition to the standard operatic singing.




    Perhaps the best introduction to his work is this Atalanta, first part of an intended trilogy that includes contemporary characters like painter Max Ernst, jazz pianist Bud Powell or Willard Reynolds, a relative of Ashley.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EygYUYIx_sM

    This documentary on Ashley, filmed by movie director Peter Greenaway, is available on youtube:


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  6. #34
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    There are several contemporary operas based on the colourful character of Rasputin.

    Of course, the more famous is Rasputin, by the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, premiered back in 2003. It received some harsh reviews, based on the supposedly weak libretto, and a lack of novelties in the score. However, I personally think this is an interesting piece, and quite strong in terms of vocal writing. There is a DVD published:





    We can watch in youtube to Matti Salminen singing the role of Rasputin:




    In 1988 Jay Reise's Rasputin was performed in the New York City Opera. We can enjoy also some fragments in youtube, from a staging in the Helikon Opera, Moscow:




    And finally, we have Nicholas and Alexandra by Deborah Drattell, with a libretto by Nicholas Von Hoffman, premiered at Los Angeles Opera, in 2003.


    Drattell, following standard operatic logic, was thinking to cast Rasputin as a bass. However, Placido Domingo, then still a full-time tenor, wanted to sing the mad monk himself. Then, Tsar Nicholas was also switched from tenor to baritone, and sung by Rodney Gilfry.


    There is no youtube, but we can listen to a fragment of the opera in the link below:

    http://www.goear.com/listen/8003547/naa-naa

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  8. #35
    nathanb
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    Robert Ashley is one I'm excited to continue to work with. I haven't done much yet with his operas, but I've grown to love "Automatic Writing".

    I also have a very soft spot for Rautavaara, so I'm sure I'll be trying that one eventually So far from him, I've heard Aleksis Kivi, The House Of The Sun, and Kaivos...with Thomas and Vincent waiting.

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  10. #36
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    Rautavaara's Vincent is a very nice opera to be sure:



    However, Vincent Van Gogh had been a point of interest for other contemporary composers too. For instance, Bernard Rands, that explains here his own approach to the subject:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVq-_-MWzIA

    We have also The letters of Van Gogh, by Grigori Find:





    But my favorite piece is one premiered in Amsterdam, back in 1990, to celebrate the centenary of Van Gogh's death: Un malheureux vêtu de noir (A Wretched Man Dressed in Black), by Jan van Vlijmen. that we can find complete in youtube (the title comes from a long poem by Alfred de Musset, that Van Gogh himself was fond to quote now and then):


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  12. #37
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    I just clicked on this one randomly yesterday on Spotify, and well, fervently followed it until the very end. Superb intense! schigolch , what do you think?

    How come Reimann's Lear didn't make a ripple like Ades' The Tempest? I must say that Lear is a much more daring work.

    lear.jpg
    Last edited by silentio; Feb-18-2015 at 16:02.

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  14. #38
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    To me, Reimann feels like a contemporary Alban Berg. Germanic to the core, a sincere and severe sense of drama, and a relatively small set of works beyond the stage. His greatest strength is certainly reserved for the stage, but I really like some of his other music as well! Chamber works and art songs in particular.

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  16. #39
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    Well, I think it did.

    Lear was written in the 1970s, and was hailed as a very important opera. Of course, I don't have this information available, but I daresay if we ran a survey between opera critics, most of them would prefer Lear over The Tempest. I certainly do. There is going to be a major production in Paris next year.

    Also, there are other contemporary operas based on "King Lear". One of them is by Aulis Sallinen, Kuningas Lear, here is the overture:



    And Alexander Goehr's Promised End:


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    I just re-listened to it. I think people should stop lamenting for the lack of a good adaptation of Lear, or that neither Verdi or Britten pursued it in the end. This Lear is just right up there with Verdi's Otello!

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  20. #41
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    I enjoy that Sallinen overture. As far as full operas from the composer, though, I have only heard his Kullervo. I quite enjoy it. There are a few compositions in which Sallinen can be a bit hit or miss (don't get me wrong, I love most of what I have of his). Thankfully, the one opera I heard by him is not among them!

    I have not heard Goehr's promised end, although I have recently discovered a lot of the composer's works. Have you heard Arianna? Rather intriguing, although supposedly Goehr didn't consider it an important work as much as an opportunity to just have some fun. Tough to imagine someone saying that about their own opera...

    Oh, and I listened to the first two episodes of Atalanta yesterday. My first Ashley opera. What a bizarre yet delightful style!

    TL;DR: Keep it up schigolch. This thread is awesome, like contemporary opera

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  22. #42
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    Yes, there is a nice recording of Arianna available, though I'm not a great fan of this opera. The experiment was interesting, nonetheless.

    I prefer for instance Philippe Boesman's orchestration of L'incoronazione, staged under the name of "Poppea et Nerone" (not likely to convince HIP hardliners, however):




    Boesmans, born in 1936, was the composer-in-residence at La Monnaie, in Brussels. There he had premiered other operas like Attitude (1979), La passion de Gilles (1983), based in the life of Gilles de Rais, a comrade of Joan of Arc, that was burned at the stake accused of being a heretic and a pedophile in 1440, Wintermarchen (1999) or the more recent Yvonne, Princesse de Bourgogne.

    But my favourite Boesmans's opera is Julie, premiered in 2005, an adaptation of Strindberg's play "Miss Julie". It's an intimate piece, a chamber opera in one act and of a rather short duration. There are only 18 musicians in the pit, but the sound palette is spectacular. This is a sensual music, richly coloured, very easy to understand and with a good, albeit a little monotonous at times, vocal writing. There is a DVD available:







    Incidentally, there are other operatic adaptations of the play. Like William Alwyin's:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKUn8hjp_FQ

    Or one by the American composer Ned Rorem:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuXbJSpvvi0

  23. #43
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    I also think the word association thing you're doing is cute.

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  25. #44
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    Anna Karenina is an opera by the American composer David Carlson from 2007:


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




    My favorite among Weir's operas 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 Act 2 a performance of a real Chinese opera: "Chao's family orphan", is included on the plot. Chao, a civil engineer attending the performance, is trying to avenge his father that was falsely sentenced to death, only to be executed before reaching his goal.


    Musically, the influence of Britten is paramount, as well as Stravinsky and sounds coming from folklore sources, mainly Scottish (Weir's parents were both from Scotland), of which Weir is particularly fond. The final result in this opera is really nice.





    Miss Fortune is the last opera written by Weir, premiered in 2011, and was received with mixed reviews.

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