Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 23

Thread: Meyerbeer

  1. #1
    Senior Member HumphreyAppleby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    229
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Meyerbeer

    Giacomo Meyerbeer, despite, or perhaps because of, being the most popular opera composer of the 19th century (by quite a ways, too), has a reputation that varies from a great opera composer to a charlatan and hack whom mud looks down at. A lot of the vitriol was started by Wagner (who, of course, was influenced by Meyerbeer, and even supported artistically and financially by him), who needed a paradigm, preferably a Jewish one (hey, it's true), to rail against. Ever since, critics have been nuts about Wagner and hostile to Meyerbeer. But is he really as bad as all that?

    I'm no expert on Meyerbeer's operas, and, from what I've heard, I'm not about to declare them the greatest works of all time. But they're good, interesting, often thrilling opera. They certainly aren't the brainless wastes that they're sometimes portrayed as. They deserve to be performed more often (though I readily admit that the sheer difficulty of the music makes it almost impossible to find good enough singers- but doesn't Wagner also face this problem?).

    Here's a lovely love duet from Les Huguenots, the most performed opera of the 19th century, featuring an outrageous live performance by Nicolai Gedda.
    Last edited by HumphreyAppleby; Dec-26-2013 at 19:47.

  2. Likes Figleaf, Meyerbeer Smith liked this post
  3. #2
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Auckland, NZ
    Posts
    5,817
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I think the trouble with Meyerbeer is that that often his operas are too long for his inspiration. It didn't matter in his time, because most of his audience wouldn't be there for the whole show, and the lights would still have been on, and people didn't pay too much attention.

    Nowadays you need some inventive staging to set them off. Which is why I enjoyed the recent production of Robert le Diable staged by Laurent Pelly, because I didn't have time to get bored (the zombie nuns helped) but not a very static DVD of Il Crociato in Egitto when I was absolutely desperate for it to end.
    Last edited by mamascarlatti; Dec-26-2013 at 19:55.
    Natalie

  4. Likes sospiro liked this post
  5. #3
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    SoCal, USA
    Posts
    19,995
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    "There is nothing in Meyerbeer; he hasn't the courage to strike at the right time." (Beethoven to Tomaschek, October 1814. Meyerbeer had played the big drum at the 1813 performance of "Wellington's Victory".)


  6. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Madrid, Spain
    Posts
    4,375
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I like a lot Meyerbeer's operas. Well, some of them.

    Robert le Diable is as astounding piece, as well as Les Huguenots. His Italian operas are quite entertaining,

  7. Likes Figleaf liked this post
  8. #5
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    SoCal, USA
    Posts
    19,995
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Schumann puts on his Wagner anti-Semitic hat to attack Les Huguenots: "Time and time again we had to turn away in disgust...One may search in vain for a sustained pure thought, a truly Christian sentiment...It is all contrived, all make believe and hypocrisy!...This shrewdest of composers rubs his hands with glee."
    Last edited by KenOC; Dec-26-2013 at 23:12.


  9. #6
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Auckland, NZ
    Posts
    5,817
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    The thing is, you have to get past all that anti-semitic %$#%$ and go and listen for yourself with an open mind.
    Natalie

  10. Likes Bellinilover, moody, Volve and 2 others liked this post
  11. #7
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    11,532
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I have to say my taste had me finding the Meyerbeer just about as un-listenable / non-interesting as I find Wagner, so perhaps they are equals.

    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Schumann puts on his Wagner anti-Semitic hat to attack on Les Huguenots: "Time and time again we had to turn away in disgust...One may search in vain for a sustained pure thought, a truly Christian sentiment...It is all contrived, all make believe and hypocrisy!...This shrewdest of composers rubs his hands with glee."
    I wouldn't be surprised if therein sits Schumann's only and ever comment about anything "Christian" altogether -- such is the corruption of an idea in fashion that he readily hopped on that bandwagon :-) This, I think, is what was generally "in the air" which makes Wagner far less exceptional in his antisemitism than many would like to make out. (...though Wagner was exceptionally loud about it, and loud about it in print -- uh, as he was about all his music.) I.e. a sustained social atmosphere which keeps the idea afloat and makes people sycophantically behave -- afraid to be found in disagreement, and monkey see; monkey do like -- as hypocrites.
    Last edited by PetrB; Dec-26-2013 at 23:09.

  12. Likes mamascarlatti, Revenant, moody liked this post
  13. #8
    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    1,570
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    15

    Default

    I've never heard a complete opera by Meyerbeer and know only that "O beau pays" aria from LES HUGENOTS.

    But I've always heard that the main reasons his operas are not performed much nowadays are the expense (because they are truly "grand operas" and can't be done well on tight budgets) and the vocal difficulty. I don't know that people today generally believe that Meyerbeer was actually a bad composer. Probably that was true before the "bel canto revival" of the 1950's onward, but I don't get the sense that it's true today.

  14. Likes moody, PetrB, Figleaf liked this post
  15. #9
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    SoCal, USA
    Posts
    19,995
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    One thing I learned in reading about Meyerbeer in Wiki: He was quite rich (inherited) and sometimes "bought" stage time for his operas with cash payments. Berlioz: "I can't forget that Meyerbeer was only able to persuade [the Opéra] to put on Robert le diable ... by paying the administration sixty thousand francs of his own money."

    Financially struggling composers like Berlioz and Wagner were infuriated and probably envious. I remember a similar outrage here a while ago when Gordon Getty (who is far richer than Meyerbeer ever dreamed of) made a big cash donation to a British opera company, and they immediately scheduled one of his operas -- a coincidence, they claimed.
    Last edited by KenOC; Dec-26-2013 at 23:54.


  16. Likes Figleaf liked this post
  17. #10
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4,481
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I was greatly interested in Meyerbeer once but then it turned out that JDF dropped out.

    Now, really, I don't have my mind made up about him (Meyerbeer) yet, but here is charming little aria in very French manner that is THE number which comes to my mind whenever I hear this composer's name:



    It's sort of classic mad scene, hence lots of frenzy coloratura.

  18. Likes moody liked this post
  19. #11
    Senior Member HumphreyAppleby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    229
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bellinilover View Post
    But I've always heard that the main reasons his operas are not performed much nowadays are the expense (because they are truly "grand operas" and can't be done well on tight budgets) and the vocal difficulty. I don't know that people today generally believe that Meyerbeer was actually a bad composer. Probably that was true before the "bel canto revival" of the 1950's onward, but I don't get the sense that it's true today.
    The expense and the vocal difficulty are certainly factors. And I'm not really super knowledgeable about the current academic view of him, but from my relatively narrow readings of reviews, articles, and books he seems to get a bad rap.

  20. Likes moody, Figleaf liked this post
  21. #12
    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Miami, Florida, USA
    Posts
    678
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I cannot altogether dislike a composer whose name has the word 'beer' in it, just on principle. I found his work in total ponderous and difficult to navigate, but studded with true gems from Huguenots, Rober Le Diable, Dinorah and, of course, even the much maligned L'Africaine.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

  22. Likes moody, Volve liked this post
  23. #13
    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    4,636
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bellinilover View Post
    I've never heard a complete opera by Meyerbeer and know only that "O beau pays" aria from LES HUGENOTS.

    But I've always heard that the main reasons his operas are not performed much nowadays are the expense (because they are truly "grand operas" and can't be done well on tight budgets) and the vocal difficulty. I don't know that people today generally believe that Meyerbeer was actually a bad composer. Probably that was true before the "bel canto revival" of the 1950's onward, but I don't get the sense that it's true today.
    You are right but there is nothing bel canto about Meyerbeer.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

  24. Likes Bellinilover, hpowders liked this post
  25. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Madrid, Spain
    Posts
    4,375
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Meyerbeer is best remembered, and rightly so, by his French Grand Operas. But during his stay in Italy, he was recognized as the main adversary of Rossini for the heart of the Italian fans.

    Il Crociatto in Egitto
    is a very nice opera, with some great numbers. "Popoli dell' Egitto" is perhaps the most famous aria from the opera (Juan Diego Flórez is singing it now in his latest recitals): a very difficult, but brilliant number. There are some good renditions available in youtube, but perhaps the more moving is this one from an aging Alfredo Kraus, released in his recording for Phillips a few years before his death, 'The Incomparable Alfredo Kraus":

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPvQ1gDG-YE

  26. Likes Figleaf, Meyerbeer Smith liked this post
  27. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    New Rochelle, NY.
    Posts
    1,946
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Meyerbeer is Rheingold , said Wagner .

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •