View Poll Results: Which do you prefer?

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  • Meistersinger

    46 65.71%
  • Falstaff

    24 34.29%
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Thread: Meistersinger vs Falstaff

  1. #46
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    I do indeed know what the question was, my whereas was in direct response to your comments about the Falstaff and the Verdi operas

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  3. #47
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Isn't it funny how tastes differ imm that I consider the music of Falstaff to be the finest Verdi ever wrote with the composer absolutely at the height of his powers. The sheer wonder of how he matches the score with the libretto and makes the music speak is a marvel. As for Mastersingers it does, as you say, contain some beautiful music, such as the quintet, but frankly is over long and out-stays its welcome in places, whereas not a note of Falstaff is wasted.
    As far as economy of expression, I never really feel like that's something I particularly value. I suppose Fur Elise is extremely economical, but that doesn't prevent it from being absolute swill.

    There's probably some excess to Meistersinger--the 15 minutes or so of David instructing Walther in Scene 2 of Act 1 is probably pretty superfluous and can be safely cut. There's a lot of humor and history there that doesn't really translate. I personally wouldn't cut a note other than possibly shortening that scene however.

    Do people actually find Falstaff funny? I never really find any operatic comedies particularly funny--at most I might chuckle a bit at one or two parts, but if I want funny, I'd watch a sitcom or a standup comic, I wouldn't watch Falstaff for the 20th time.

    I think these operas are "comedies" in the Aristotelian sense of having a happy ending, and to me, operatic comedies succeed or fail based on whether they cast that sense of gemutlichkeit or bien etre. Falstaff really doesn't do that for me--a lot of the making fun of Falstaff strikes me as basically pretty mean spirited, the central romance is a dud, and the ending as Woodduck points out leaves you with a sour note.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Jun-20-2019 at 18:34.

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  5. #48
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    I do indeed know what the question was, my whereas was in direct response to your comments about the Falstaff and the Verdi operas
    It really isn't. If you start your comment with a "whereas", that implies that you're refuting my comment. Your opinion being different from mine isn't a refutation, and frankly implying that it is is a little rude.

  6. #49
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    It really isn't. If you start your comment with a "whereas", that implies that you're refuting my comment. Your opinion being different from mine isn't a refutation, and frankly implying that it is is a little rude.
    Talking about rude!

  7. #50
    Senior Member Don Fatale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    That sounds good-natured, but it doesn't quite capture the flavor of the original. The full text of the final fugue, (roughly) correctly translated:


    Tutto nel mondo é burla.
    L'uom é nato burlone,
    Nel suo cervello ciurla
    Sempre la sua ragione.
    Tutti gabbati! Irride
    L'un l'altro ogni mortal.
    Ma ride ben chi ride
    La risata final.

    The whole world is a joke,
    And man is born a clown.
    Inside his brain his reason is always [Italian "ciurla," which I can't find a translation for].
    We are all fools! Each mortal mocks the other.
    But he laughs best who gets the last laugh.


    For some reason I've never found that particularly heart-warming. Surely even comedy can leave us with something more than amused cynicism? Is shared foolishness and one-upmanship ("he who laughs last") mankind's deepest bond? It sounds like the code of a con artist, and it tends to confirm my feeling that Falstaff, for all its brilliance, is basically rather shallow.
    Strangely enough, it's the part of the opera I love least, and I agree about the sentiment, but I guess that's down to Shakespeare. As for Meistersinger, I prefer to see stagings where Beckmesser is reconciled at the end.

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  9. #51
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    A few notes about your translation:

    Ciurla is the third person singular of the verb ciurlare which means to move round in circles or move whilst swaying from side to side (think of a drunk 'ciurlaring' their way home!)

    I don't think 'joke' is an adequate translation of burla, burla can also have an element of the con or trick about it (think of Zerlina's words about Don Giovanni Ma puo' burlarmi ancor) and perhaps 'mock' is the best word in English (meaning make fun of, but also false).

    Tutti gabbati! Doesn't mean 'We are all fools!', but 'All taken in'.

    I agree that it is incredibly cynical and, in the original Italian, hard hitting. I would translate it thus:

    Everything in the world is mockery.
    Man is born a joker,
    Inside his brain his reason is always spinning.
    All taken in! Each mortal mocks the other.
    But he laughs best who gets the last laugh.

    In the current political climate I find these words to be a stark warning, but nothing lasts forever, trickery has to catch up with reality at some point and the Truth will laugh best!

    N.

    P.S. I have a very dark sense of humour and so I strongly appreciate this sardonically cynical view.
    Thanks for that refinement of my translation attempt. It makes the "moral" even more cynical than I thought. Verdi seems to have had a dark, rather bleak sense of life; his operas tend to end starkly, without hope or redemption, and Falstaff definitely seems to be offering the comic side of that grim view in its final tableau. The words of that fugue are just a half-step away from the total cynicism of Iago's "Credo" in Otello.

    Although the opera is a great character portrait - Falstaff is a fantastic role for baritone with acting chops - and is full of playful musical inspiration (and I agree that there isn't a wasted note), for me there are few moments that really touch my emotions. I like the Herne's Oak scene, which is wonderfully atmospheric (do I detect a hint of Berlioz?), and I love Nanetta's fairy aria. For most of the rest I feel more of a immense admiration than a real love.

    Although Falstaff has been compared to Mozart for its wit, I think Mozart has more human warmth, even in the equally farcical Cosi fan tutte, where the spectacle of humanity making a hopeless asse of itself is somewhat transformed by radiant music. In this particular sense - though certainly not in every sense - I would suggest that Meistersinger may be a truer successor to Mozart than Falstaff is. Wagner is a great tragedian, but not even in the cosmic disaster of the Gotterdammerung is he cynical: both his last opera and Mozart's are allegories of enlightenment and man's capacity for transcendence, and there are fascinating similarities between them. Verdi would have been incapable of finding music for such subject matter.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-20-2019 at 19:38.

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  11. #52
    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Fatale View Post
    Strangely enough, it's the part of the opera I love least, and I agree about the sentiment, but I guess that's down to Shakespeare.
    No, it's all Boito and Verdi.
    Alan

  12. #53
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amfortas View Post
    No, it's all Boito and Verdi.
    I'm not sure about the 'all' but it is definitely Shakespeare as filtered through those two. If you want closer to the original, then go to RVW.

  13. #54
    Senior Member OperaChic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amfortas View Post
    No, it's all Boito and Verdi.
    I was going to say, I don't recall such a denouement in Shakespeare's Merry Wives, although it's been ages since I read the play. I was under the impression it was purely a feature of the opera, much like Iago's Credo in Otello. But maybe someone more familiar with the play can correct me.

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  15. #55
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Fatale View Post
    As for Meistersinger, I prefer to see stagings where Beckmesser is reconciled at the end.
    I do too, although I don't think it should get too much emphasis. Wagner has been condemned for cruelty toward Beckmesser - for making him a persnickety, mean-minded character to begin with, and then for subjecting him to the humiliation of making a fool of himself in public - but Meistersinger doesn't shy away from showing us some of the dark side of human nature. I suspect people are lured by the idea of "comedy" into expecting unpleasantness to be downplayed, wanting wickedness and hypocrisy to seem harmless and without consequence - a sort of "I Love Lucy" sensibility, in which things that are unacceptable in real life are made so absurd as to make us forget how offensive they are. Beckmesser has little attractive about him, but he isn't a mere buffoon and he should carry himself with a certain self-conscious dignity. When he's laughed off the podium after screwing up Walther's poem, Wagner instructs that he stalks off in fury and loses himself in the crowd, but he isn't exiled from Nuremberg, and Sachs still calls him "friend Beckmesser." He wouldn't be town clerk and a mastersinger if he didn't have friends, so it seems appropriate that as he moves through the crowd some townspeople should at least show him some sympathy and give him a comforting pat on the back. I imagine him pulling himself together, sticking around to hear Walther sing, and joining in the chorus of acclamation at the end.

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  17. #56
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OperaChic View Post
    I was going to say, I don't recall such a denouement in Shakespeare's Merry Wives, although it's been ages since I read the play. I was under the impression it was purely a feature of the opera, much like Iago's Credo in Otello. But maybe someone more familiar with the play can correct me.
    From the synopsis - Although he is embarrassed, Falstaff takes the joke surprisingly well, as he sees it was what he deserved. ... Eventually they all leave together and Mistress Page even invites Falstaff to come with them: "let us every one go home, and laugh this sport o'er by a country fire; Sir John and all".
    Last edited by Becca; Jun-20-2019 at 19:43.

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  19. #57
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    A few notes about your translation:

    Ciurla is the third person singular of the verb ciurlare which means to move round in circles or move whilst swaying from side to side (think of a drunk 'ciurlaring' their way home!)

    I don't think 'joke' is an adequate translation of burla, burla can also have an element of the con or trick about it (think of Zerlina's words about Don Giovanni Ma puo' burlarmi ancor) and perhaps 'mock' is the best word in English (meaning make fun of, but also false).

    Tutti gabbati! Doesn't mean 'We are all fools!', but 'All taken in'.

    I agree that it is incredibly cynical and, in the original Italian, hard hitting. I would translate it thus:

    Everything in the world is mockery.
    Man is born a joker,
    Inside his brain his reason is always spinning.
    All taken in! Each mortal mocks the other.
    But he laughs best who gets the last laugh.

    In the current political climate I find these words to be a stark warning, but nothing lasts forever, trickery has to catch up with reality at some point and the Truth will laugh best!

    N.

    P.S. I have a very dark sense of humour and so I strongly appreciate this sardonically cynical view.
    I think Verdi here is inviting us to laugh at ourselves. Don't forget we've just been treated to the site of three pompous men - Falstaff, Ford and Dr Caius - being made fools of by the women they have tried in various ways to use for their own purposes. The warm hearted bit is, of course, that it is resolved, and everyone ends up singing the final chorus in harmony. Then, as a last gesture, Falstaff points at the audience and includes us all. I always feel sorry for people who cannot laugh at themselves because at some time in our lives we are all ridiculous. And the most pompous and self-important people are the most ridiculous, says Verdi. After a lifetime of dark plots, assassinations and tragic endings, it's as if Verdi is saying, "What does it matter anyway! You've all been fooled!" He'd made a fortune and become the most celebrated man in Italy fooling the public with his works. But he who laughs last laughs best! And here he invites us to join in with him - and who wouldn't except the most miserable person! Even Dr Caius sings his head off at the end!
    As Austen's Mr Bennett says, "What do we live for but to provide sport for others and then to laugh at them in turn."

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  21. #58
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OperaChic View Post
    I was going to say, I don't recall such a denouement in Shakespeare's Merry Wives, although it's been ages since I read the play. I was under the impression it was purely a feature of the opera, much like Iago's Credo in Otello. But maybe someone more familiar with the play can correct me.
    The last fugue is Boito and Verdi. The Merry Wives is one of Shakespeare's weakest plays and was cobbled together to please Queen Liz 1 when she had seen Henry IV and wanted to see Sir John in love. I did see a hilarious production at Stratford by Terry Hands many years ago which had the audience nearly falling off their seats but a recent RSC production was hopeless. Interesting that one of Shakespeare's weakest plays made one of the greatest of all operas.

  22. #59
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Fatale View Post
    Strangely enough, it's the part of the opera I love least, and I agree about the sentiment, but I guess that's down to Shakespeare. As for Meistersinger, I prefer to see stagings where Beckmesser is reconciled at the end.
    Well we are being asked to laugh at ourselves! I just hate the humiliation of Beckmesser by that crowd. Most uncomfortable!
    Last edited by DavidA; Jun-20-2019 at 19:51.

  23. #60
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Well we are being asked to laugh at ourselves! I just hate the humiliation of Beckmesser by that crowd. Most uncomfortable!
    I am not fond of the humiliation of Max in the beginning of Weber's Der Freischutz for having a run of poor shooting.

    And Beethoven leaves us wondering if the frustrated (and likely feeling humiliated) Jaquino ever gets his Marzelline back in the end.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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