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Thread: Aren't You Thrilled That "Saint Francis" Lasts More Over 4 Hours?

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    Senior Member Xavier's Avatar
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    Default Aren't You Thrilled That "Saint Francis" Lasts More Over 4 Hours?

    For some reason there is still confusion over the exact length of Messiaen's great opera.

    I've never even met anybody including myself who has ever mentioned that they have knowledge of the thing, Saint Francis of Assisi that is. But I'm obviously no sophisticate. I see that Donald Runnicles conducted it and he is brilliant.

    I also read that it's eight hours long, strewth, or alternatively four hours long, which is it?
    So just for the record:

    Yes, it is over 4 hours long without the intermissions.... The Opus Arte DVD with the Hague Philharmonic and Ingo Metzmacher clocks in at 4 hours and 8 minutes to be exact.

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    Well whoever you quoted just got the wrong information. I'd like to get a recording of the opera, Messiaen is a fabulous composer.

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    Senior Member dgee's Avatar
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    According to iTunes my Kent Nagano version (van Dam, Upshaw) is "3.9 hours"

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I have the recording. I don't know if I could sit through it live though.
    Even though I do Parsifal ok.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

    "Man does not live by bread alone......"

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    I watched Saint François d'Assise live in Madrid, a couple of years ago. Total time for the performance, including intermissions, was well over five hours.

    Many people indeed were unable to sit through it, there were many desertions, I'd say around 50% of the attendance didn't make it to the final note. It was not a problem of the performance itself, that was good enough, rather of the lack of familiarity with the music of Messiaen of quite a few people in the audience, that were impacted by something very unfamiliar for them. Many opera ticket holders in Madrid are rather conservative in taste, and for them Richard Strauss is just about the last cry in terms of contemporary music.

    However, my belief that the opera is indeed too long was reinforced by the live experience. I think that cutting the sixth scene: Le Prêche aux oiseaux, is a sensible move. Not for the quality, this is an amazing piece of music, a wonderful feat and a worthy example of Messiaen's claim that he worked "on the complex, not on the complicated", but it stands rather separated from the other scenes.
    Last edited by schigolch; Oct-06-2013 at 09:39.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    How about, rather than quoting someone from this forum out of context, who might have been making a joke, you simply reply in the thread to that comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by moody View Post
    I've never even met anybody including myself who has ever mentioned that they have knowledge of the thing, St.Francis of Assisi that is. But I'm obviously no sophisticate.
    I see that Donald Runnicles conducted it and he is brilliant. I also read that it's eight hours long ,strewth,or alternatively four hours long,which is it ?
    Natalie

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