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. #76
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    The alternative of taking opera (or any artform) primarily as fiction (even if the subject is unpleasant) is taking it for real and in extreme cases even to identify with it. This is where art becomes a religion/cult and any discussion between believers and non-believers is bound to escalate, as we have experienced recently. Let's not grab any option to provoke and ignite the whole pointless discussion again. We are well beyond the age of the schoolyard, however, some after raising a fist still like to run to the headmaster to plea for punishment.

    And if you look for opportunities to expose your knowledge, you can always write an article or blog or a whodunit, instead of seeking an argument. You have enough words up your sleeve and plenty of victims are available, if I read your words.
    So touchy. You're uncomfortable with having your statements challenged? Well, you've wandered into the wrong room. This is the room where we expect our ideas to engender discussion, and where - surprise! - some people are likely to disagree with us.

    Who is "taking opera for real"? How would one go about doing that? You, for reasons unknown to us, may carry around some fantasy of art becoming a "religion/cult," but your apparent obsession with the concept - you've dropped it into at least two threads now to no discernible purpose - is, frankly, baffling, at least to me.

    Having been on the forum for over five years now, I want to assure you that everyone I've observed here appears to be immune to the soul-corroding horrors of the Cult of Opera-as-Real-Life. The nearest anyone seems to come to losing touch with reality is in holding the belief that art might in some cases have something to offer beyond momentary titillation, something that the mind and heart can take in and be nourished by even after the music has stopped. Indeed, we have real artists here - I'm one of them - whose personal pursuit of music, painting, and poetry convinces them of this every single day.

    Perhaps we're at terrible risk, taking opera "too seriously" as you and DavidA accuse us of doing, but so far nothing awful has happened. There's only the annoyance of having to listen to the nattering of a few killjoys and wet blankets who think they've been called by some higher power to save someone from something.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-22-2019 at 20:52.

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  3. #77
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManateeFL View Post
    Geez, talk about cynical.

    Thankfully I don't actually think it's true and find your whole spin on this preposterous.
    Then I fear you've been fooled!

  4. #78
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    Both these operas are masterpieces and interestingly they are the only mature comedies by two composers who were very different, but also had a lot in common (born the same year and whose second opera is a comedy in the style of the previous tradition). I would be suspicious of anybody who doesn't value and appreciate both (even if we have personal preferences). Neither is my favourite opera by either by a long shot.

    There are similarities between the characters of Falstaff and Sachs and Nanetta and Eva, but it is better to look at the differences rather than try and compare and assess the works based on the similarities between them. Meistersinger has a number of themes, the main one being the tired dialectic between 'tradition' on the one hand and 'modernism' on the other. Wagner's conclusion (as Sachs demonstrates) is that a balance between both is necessary. Beckmesser deludes himself that he can win Eva as he is a traditionalist against modernism. Walther, albeit unknowingly, is a modernist who isn't interested in the tradition of the knights. Were Sachs to enter the contest he would win, as only he understands the balance needed between the old and the new. However, he isn't deluded enough to think that his marrying Eva is the best thing for her and so he helps Walther to win the contest.

    Falstaff explores some of the same themes. The dialectic between 'tradition' and 'modernism' in art doesn't feature, however the self delusion that Beckmesser is subject to takes centre stage here and is the main topic of Verdi's opera. Falstaff is bound to meet his comeuppance (like Beckmesser) due to his complete lack of self awareness. This is very difficult to pull off (can we really believe that this corpulent, old has been can go out on the pull!!!?) Yet we believe it due to Verdi's music (which, let's be honest, is what makes us laugh when experiencing this opera). Falstaff explores this enigmatic human trait (self delusion) in a way that is just hinted at in Meistersinger. The vincible nature of young love also features and Ford's final acceptance of Nanetta and Fenton's love is different from Sach's acknowledgment that Eva and Walther are a couple, however both situations reveal different aspects of human nature in their way.

    I find it really difficult to say that one composer (as far as these works alone are concerned) has expressed more in music than the other and I find as much cynicism and humanity in both operas.

    N.

    P.S. Just for the record I prefer both Gianni Schichi and Barbiere when it comes to making me laugh and leave the theatre with a smile on my face! (But then I have no taste!)
    Last edited by The Conte; Jun-26-2019 at 23:11.

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  6. #79
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    Both these operas are masterpieces and interestingly they are the only mature comedies by two composers who were very different, but also had a lot in common (born the same year and whose second opera is a comedy in the style of the previous tradition). I would be suspicious of anybody who doesn't value and appreciate both (even if we have personal preferences). Neither is my favourite opera by either by a long shot.

    There are similarities between the characters of Falstaff and Sachs and Nanetta and Eva, but it is better to look at the differences rather than try and compare and assess the works based on the similarities between them. Meistersinger has a number of themes, the main one being the tired dialectic between 'tradition' on the one hand and 'modernism' on the other. Wagner's conclusion (as Sachs demonstrates) is that a balance between both is necessary. Beckmesser deludes himself that he can win Eva as he is a traditionalist against modernism. Walther, albeit unknowingly, is a modernist who isn't interested in the tradition of the knights. Were Sachs to enter the contest he would win, as only he understands the balance needed between the old and the new. However, he isn't deluded enough to think that his marrying Eva is the best thing for her and so he helps Walther to win the contest.

    Falstaff explores some of the same themes. The dialectic between 'tradition' and 'modernism' in art doesn't feature, however the self delusion that Beckmesser is subject to takes centre stage here and is the main topic of Verdi's opera. Falstaff is bound to meet his comeuppance (like Beckmesser) due to his complete lack of self awareness. This is very difficult to pull off (can we really believe that this corpulent, old has been can go out on the pull!!!?) Yet we believe it due to Verdi's music (which, let's be honest, is what makes us laugh when experiencing this opera). Falstaff explores this enigmatic human trait (self delusion) in a way that is just hinted at in Meistersinger. The vincible nature of young love also features and Ford's final acceptance of Nanetta and Fenton's love is different from Sach's acknowledgment that Eva and Walther are a couple, however both situations reveal different aspects of human nature in their way.

    I find it really difficult to say that one composer (as far as these works alone are concerned) has expressed more in music than the other and I find as much cynicism and humanity in both operas.

    N.

    P.S. Just for the record I prefer both Gianni Schichi and Barbiere when it comes to making me laugh and leave the theatre with a smile on my face! (But then I have no taste!)
    You make some interesting points but I don't think mastersinger is really a comedy. I don't really think you can compare the themes because Wagner was making some self-consciously heavy points whereas Verdi was working from Shakespeare (via the brilliant Boito) for his own amusement. I don't think Verdi ever makes its believe Falstaff can pull it off as the music constantly mocks him. Verdi his really exploring the theme of feminism and the triumph of the wit of women of pompous men, something, I fear that would be foreign to Wagner. We see Falstaff lamenting his age after his first ducking yet he still falls for the merry wives second trick. Yet how robust he is - he says he is a wit and also the cause of wit in others.
    But then we also see the pompous Ford get his comeuppance - and the stupid Dr Caius. By the end the men are routed. The women have won - we've all been fooled! (How much better that is than the flag waving in the other). Everyone is reconciled. This to me is light years ahead in its thought. Verdi had very special insights into the human condition even in a farce.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jun-28-2019 at 14:13.

  7. #80
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    I have heard that Meistersinger is a comedy but I do not find it to be so.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

  8. #81
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    You make some interesting points but I don't think mastersinger is really a comedy. I don't really think you can compare the themes because Wagner was making some self-consciously heavy points whereas Verdi was working from Shakespeare (via the brilliant Boito) for his own amusement. I don't think Verdi ever makes its believe Falstaff can pull it off as the music constantly mocks him. Verdi is really exploring the theme of feminism and the triumph of the wit of women of pompous men, something, I fear that would be foreign to Wagner. We see Falstaff lamenting his age after his first ducking yet he still falls for the merry wives second trick. Yet how robust he is - he says he is a wit and also the cause of wit in others.
    But then we also see the pompous Ford get his comeuppance - and the stupid Dr Caius. By the end the men are routed. The women have won - we've all been fooled! (How much better that is than the flag waving in the other). Everyone is reconciled. This to me is light years ahead in its thought. Verdi had very special insights into the human condition even in a farce.
    Falstaff is stock comedy material. Clever women outwitting male hubris has been a comedic standby since Lysistrata. It's the stuff of TV sitcoms: at the end of every episode of I Love Lucy (and practically every other TV comedy I grew up watching except possibly Lassie Come Home and Rin Tin Tin) the women outwit the men and in the end everyone is reconciled (in those two the men were outwitted by animals). To pretend that any of this represents "special insight into the human condition," much less Verdi "exploring the theme of feminism," is hilarious.

    Meistersinger has a very original plot containing several dramatic themes both light and serious. Falstaff has, basically, one, and it's neither original nor profound. Isn't it enough that Boito and Verdi took a farcical play and gave it a witty libretto and marvelous music? Must we search the exploits of a pompous old buffoon for profundity? Aren't you the one who's always haranguing Wagner-lovers about not taking opera seriously?

    Meistersinger is a comedy. There's nothing about the genre that precludes the presence of serious themes and pathos. If it's easy yuks you need, there's always I Love Lucy.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-28-2019 at 18:52.

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  10. #82
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    I have heard that Meistersinger is a comedy but I do not find it to be so.
    It's a comedy in the sense that it's not a tragedy but it's somewhat short on gags.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jun-28-2019 at 21:21.

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  12. #83
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    I find it hugely baffling that people (if it just men?) can't see the feminism in Falstaff when it is absolutely brimming with it and the original title is 'The Merry Wives of Windsor.' But never mind! Perhaps, as Falstaff says, we've all been fooled! Especially comparing it to TV comedies about Lassie!
    I don't think any of us search the exploits of the pompous old buffoon for 'profundity' particularly, but for those of us who have the temerity to be able to laugh at ourselves there is perhaps (if we are honest) a bit of all of us in Falstaff, especially if we are advancing in years. I think that is why I love Falstaff because it gives us the opportunity for laughing at ourselves and not taking ourselves (or opera) too seriously. Verdi invites us to laugh at ourselves so why not join in?
    Last edited by DavidA; Jun-29-2019 at 10:46.

  13. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    It's a comedy in the sense that it's not a tragedy but it's somewhat short on gags.
    Are we talking about Wagner's Meister singer vs Verdi/Boito's Falstaff or the two works as often staged today? Meister singer has plenty of 'gags' but there aren't exploited by directors as they could be. Beckmesser's nonsense song (both as far as the words and music are concerned) is very cleverly done and the Meister singer themselves can be comically pompous (it's there in the music). Then the fight at the end of Act Two can be a riot!

    N.

  14. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I find it hugely baffling that people (if it just men?) can't see the feminism in Falstaff when it is absolutely brimming with it and the original title is 'The Merry Wives of Windsor.' But never mind! Perhaps, as Falstaff says, we've all been fooled! Especially comparing it to TV comedies about Lassie!
    I don't think any of us search the exploits of the pompous old buffoon for 'profundity' particularly, but for those of us who have the temerity to be able to laugh at ourselves there is perhaps (if we are honest) a bit of all of us in Falstaff, especially if we are advancing in years. I think that is why I love Falstaff because it gives us the opportunity for laughing at ourselves and not taking ourselves (or opera) too seriously. Verdi invites us to laugh at ourselves so why not join in?
    Nobody has said that they can't see the feminism in Falstaff, but it is a stock part of operatic comedy and since it is part of the original play, it's Shakespeare rather than Verdi who is to be credited here. In a previous post you wrote that we can't compare the themes of the two operas as Wagner and Shakespeare are too different as artists. So can we compare them or not?

    I am happy to join in laughing at the 'gags' in Falstaff, but that doesn't stop me laughing at Turco in Italia, Gianni Schichi or Meister singer too. I don't agree that Verdi is suggesting we don't take opera too seriously, it sees an odd statement for the swansong of an artist that took their art form so seriously they completely changed it whilst doing something different from the other national schools, if influenced by them.

    Falstaff, feminist or otherwise, doesn't have anything to say about opera. If anybody is laughing at the reaction of artists and audiences to musical works of art it's Wagner in Meistersinger. His Meisters are crusty old farts who are too closed minded to leave their comfort zones. Wagner invites us to listen to opera with an open mind. Why not join him?

    N.

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  16. #86
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    Are we talking about Wagner's Meister singer vs Verdi/Boito's Falstaff or the two works as often staged today? Meister singer has plenty of 'gags' but there aren't exploited by directors as they could be. Beckmesser's nonsense song (both as far as the words and music are concerned) is very cleverly done and the Meister singer themselves can be comically pompous (it's there in the music). Then the fight at the end of Act Two can be a riot!

    N.
    The problem is I never find the gags in mastersinger funny but those in Falstaff hilarious. But each to his own.

  17. #87
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    Nobody has said that they can't see the feminism in Falstaff, but it is a stock part of operatic comedy and since it is part of the original play, it's Shakespeare rather than Verdi who is to be credited here. In a previous post you wrote that we can't compare the themes of the two operas as Wagner and Shakespeare are too different as artists. So can we compare them or not?

    I am happy to join in laughing at the 'gags' in Falstaff, but that doesn't stop me laughing at Turco in Italia, Gianni Schichi or Meister singer too. I don't agree that Verdi is suggesting we don't take opera too seriously, it sees an odd statement for the swansong of an artist that took their art form so seriously they completely changed it whilst doing something different from the other national schools, if influenced by them.

    Falstaff, feminist or otherwise, doesn't have anything to say about opera. If anybody is laughing at the reaction of artists and audiences to musical works of art it's Wagner in Meistersinger. His Meisters are crusty old farts who are too closed minded to leave their comfort zones. Wagner invites us to listen to opera with an open mind. Why not join him?

    N.
    My dear friend, laughing at Falstaff does not prevent anyone laughing at Turco in Italia, Gianni Schichi, Meister singer, Laural and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin or Morcambe and Wise! do believe Verdi was giving his message not to take it too seriously because it becomes a pain in the neck when we do rather than a joy. I mean, why is it such a sitting duck when something goes wrong? Verdi wrote operas to entertain the public because he was rather good at it and it was the best way he found to make living as a country gentleman and to get the adoration of his countrymen, something incidentally, I was reading, that RW never generally got.
    Actually someone did say they can't see the feminism in Falstaff. Obviously Verdi saw it even if it isn';t his libretto. We know he poured over the libretti he wrote until he was satisfied so he obviously approved.
    Generally speaking I don't want to join the Masters as I don't want to be an old fart who is too closed minded to leave his comfort zone. I left them behind a few years ago.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jul-02-2019 at 12:21.

  18. #88
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    My dear friend, laughing at Falstaff does not prevent anyone laughing at Turco in Italia, Gianni Schichi, Meister singer, Laural and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin or Morcambe and Wise! do believe Verdi was giving his message not to take it too seriously because it becomes a pain in the neck when we do rather than a joy. I mean, why is it such a sitting duck when something goes wrong? Verdi wrote operas to entertain the public because he was rather good at it and it was the best way he found to make living as a country gentleman and to get the adoration of his countrymen, something incidentally, I was reading, that RW never generally got.
    Actually someone did say they can't see the feminism in Falstaff. Obviously Verdi saw it even if it isn';t his libretto. We know he poured over the libretti he wrote until he was satisfied so he obviously approved.
    Generally speaking I don't want to join the Masters as I don't want to be an old fart who is too closed minded to leave his comfort zone. I left them behind a few years ago.
    Is The Conte actually your "dear friend"? Somehow I haven't gotten that impression. But then it's none of my business, is it?

    Your weird obsession with the idea of not taking things "too seriously" has several times led you to speak of Verdi in terms such as you do here: "Verdi wrote operas to entertain the public because he was rather good at it and it was the best way he found to make a living as a country gentleman and to get the adoration of his countrymen."

    I would love to hear Verdi's response to that. Somehow I don't think it would begin with "My dear friend..."
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-02-2019 at 18:32.

  19. #89
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    I have heard that Meistersinger is a comedy but I do not find it to be so.
    It's a "comedy" in the classical sense--"classical" meaning the ancient Greeks, see for instance Aristotle defining comedy as a narrative with a happy ending for a sympathetic character. Festive and lighthearted and productive of good cheer is what is meant here, not the more modern sense of "comedy" as a joke-delivery device.

    And despite Falstaff being funnier than Meistersinger, I find Meistersinger a more successful comedy in the sense of being more able to produce that feeling of good cheer and well-being, over Falstaff which I find somewhat mean-spirited.

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  21. #90
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    And despite Falstaff being funnier than Meistersinger, I find Meistersinger a more successful comedy in the sense of being more able to produce that feeling of good cheer and well-being, over Falstaff which I find somewhat mean-spirited.
    Funny how we differ. I find Mastersingers far more mean spirited. I know Shakespeare had a pretty mean sense of humour running through his plays (eg twelfth night) but in Falstaff everyone is reconciled and it ends in a celebration of life. Mastersingers ends in a celebration of Wagner's art which puts me off somewhat. Also the mocking of Beckmesser is very OTT> But just how one reacts.
    But it's the music that does it for me. I find Verdi's far preferable to Wagner's long drawn out affair.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jul-02-2019 at 20:25.

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