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Thread: The Kindest Cut of All

  1. #16
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    I would cut the "La prêche aux oiseaux" passage from Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Time is relative to interest.
    Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. —Ray Bradbury

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  4. #18
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Time is relative to interest.
    Yes and I am quite interested in Goodall's Ring right now, all 16 hours and 52 minutes of it. I don't know if there are any cuts, but at that record-setting length, probably not.
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Apr-27-2018 at 05:55.
    "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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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    Yes and I am quite interested in Goodall's Ring right now, all 16 hours and 52 minutes of it. I don't know if there are any cuts, but at that record-setting length, probably not.
    I should bloody hope not.

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  7. #20
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    As Arnold Schoenberg astutely pointed out, cuts in Wagner have the paradoxical effect of making the operas seem even longer ! These cuts are actually artistically counterproductive .

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  9. #21
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superhorn View Post
    As Arnold Schoenberg astutely pointed out, cuts in Wagner have the paradoxical effect of making the operas seem even longer ! These cuts are actually artistically counterproductive .
    Schoenberg, with his hair shirt views on music and art, would say that. For those of us who go to the theatre for entertainment (and pay for it) rather than a religious rite, I think our own comfort and convenience also comes into it. I recently saw a performance of Figaro which was cut to get it down to three hours for a weekday starting at 7-30pm. i.e. giving people time to get there and the opportunity to get away at a reasonable hour. This had nothing to do with the quality of the music off course but the fact that by 10-30pm many people (especially those of my age) are physically tired and some have to get up to work in the morning. So I found the cuts acceptable even though I did miss things like Basilio's humorous aria about a donkey.
    I think cuts in many operas do not hurt - after all, we all accept Shakespeare's plays are masterpieces but who has ever sat through an uncut Hamlet? As far as Wagner is concerned, some cuts would not hurt. The last time I sat through Mastersingers I just longed for David's interminable exposition of the rules come to an end. Or Wotan's monologue in Walkure Act 2 where he explains everything that we already know. Or the painful Wanderer / Mime scene in Siegfried. And I must say king Mark overstays his welcome for me when he tells Tristan off. That is incredibly anticlimactic after the love duet. So I don't think any opera is sacred beyond cuts. Not necessarily to do with the quality of music but the sheer length of time you spend sitting in the theatre.
    Last edited by DavidA; May-13-2018 at 12:04.

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  11. #22
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Schoenberg, with his hair shirt views on music and art, would say that. For those of us who go to the theatre for entertainment (and pay for it) rather than a religious rite, I think our own comfort and convenience also comes into it. I recently saw a performance of Figaro which was cut to get it down to three hours for a weekday starting at 7-30pm. i.e. giving people time to get there and the opportunity to get away at a reasonable hour. This had nothing to do with the quality of the music off course but the fact that by 10-30pm many people (especially those of my age) are physically tired and some have to get up to work in the morning. So I found the cuts acceptable even though I did miss things like Basilio's humorous aria about a donkey.
    I think cuts in many operas do not hurt - after all, we all accept Shakespeare's plays are masterpieces but who has ever sat through an uncut Hamlet? As far as Wagner is concerned, some cuts would not hurt. The last time I sat through Mastersingers I just longed for David's interminable exposition of the rules come to an end. Or Wotan's monologue in Walkure Act 2 where he explains everything that we already know. Or the painful Wanderer / Mime scene in Siegfried. And I must say king Mark overstays his welcome for me when he tells Tristan off. That is incredibly anticlimactic after the love duet. So I don't think any opera is sacred beyond cuts. Not necessarily to do with the quality of music but the sheer length of time you spend sitting in the theatre.
    I agree with both you and Schoenberg. There are "traditional" cuts in Wagner - particularly the sizable chunks out of acts 2 and 3 of Tristan that used to be routine - which are really damaging to the emotional trajectory and aesthetic shape of the whole. On the other hand the passages you cite from Meistersinger and Siegfried might be argued about; David's detailing of the rules is charming and amusing, but not strictly essential, and the Mime/Wanderer game of "20 questions" lost much of its justification when Wagner went on to write the libretti to Walkure and then Rheingold. Composers don't always calculate these things perfectly, and if an aria holds up the action without adding anything dramatically or musically rewarding I'm not opposed to cutting it. Recordings, of course, are a different matter.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    You may be taking for granted that the audience knows the whole story of the Ring when attending Die Walkure, which may not be true.
    Walkure is performed by itself many times and the information in the second act then would be very helpful.
    Especially for newcomers. It even helps me at times, a seasoned Wagnerian.
    In Wagner's time performances were rare. He didn't have cd's or dvd's either.
    Also, it give the Wanderer some wonderful music
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Junior Member sharkeysnight's Avatar
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    I wish Meistersinger was the one with a four-opera cycle.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sharkeysnight View Post
    I wish Meistersinger was the one with a four-opera cycle.
    Would Walther win the hands of four women, or would four young suitors vie for Eva? I imagine that by evening four Sachs would tire of matchmaking, promise Eva a magnificent dowry, and sail off with her down the Pegnitz in a catered swan boat, leaving Walther and Beckmesser to run as liberal and conservative candidates for the positions of town clerk and marker.

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  19. #26
    Senior Member Faustian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I agree with both you and Schoenberg. There are "traditional" cuts in Wagner - particularly the sizable chunks out of acts 2 and 3 of Tristan that used to be routine - which are really damaging to the emotional trajectory and aesthetic shape of the whole. On the other hand the passages you cite from Meistersinger and Siegfried might be argued about; David's detailing of the rules is charming and amusing, but not strictly essential, and the Mime/Wanderer game of "20 questions" lost much of its justification when Wagner went on to write the libretti to Walkure and then Rheingold. Composers don't always calculate these things perfectly, and if an aria holds up the action without adding anything dramatically or musically rewarding I'm not opposed to cutting it. Recordings, of course, are a different matter.
    I would agree that if cuts are going to be made, those two suggestions are about as good as any. They would also save an audience member perhaps 10 to 20 minutes of their evening. I doubt that anyone spending 5 hours at the opera who is thoroughly enjoying the work are going to mind spending and extra 15 minutes in the theater, or that anyone who finds the operas a drag are going to find much relief even if said cuts are implemented.
    Last edited by Faustian; May-14-2018 at 00:44.

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  21. #27
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    I’d like to cut the ten minutes of music between Tristan’s death and Isolde’s Liebestod. The music has been very intense up to this point and this intensity is shattered with this clumsy scene where Wagner tries to tie up loose ends. Kurwenal and Melot fight, and Marke arrives on the scene putting everyone to sleep. We even hear pre-echoes of the Mild und Leise theme in the orchestra.

    All that really needs to be conveyed is that Marke “now understands” and forgives. But we don’t even need that. Who cares if Marke forgives? Far better for Isolde to launch into the Liebestod and maintain the music at this sublime level up to the last note.

  22. #28
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott in PA View Post
    I’d like to cut the ten minutes of music between Tristan’s death and Isolde’s Liebestod. The music has been very intense up to this point and this intensity is shattered with this clumsy scene where Wagner tries to tie up loose ends. Kurwenal and Melot fight, and Marke arrives on the scene putting everyone to sleep. We even hear pre-echoes of the Mild und Leise theme in the orchestra.

    All that really needs to be conveyed is that Marke “now understands” and forgives. But we don’t even need that. Who cares if Marke forgives? Far better for Isolde to launch into the Liebestod and maintain the music at this sublime level up to the last note.
    That's an interesting view, but I think Wagner was doing more than merely tying up loose ends. The violence and tragic consequences of the confrontation between Kurwenal and the representatives of the outer world - Marke and Melot - fully rounds out these characters, showing Kurwenal as faithful unto death and Marke as both compassionate and truly tragic rather than merely wounded and pathetic. Wagner doesn't want us to forget the harsh world against which the defiant passion of the lovers is set, and this is revealed again at the very end when he indicates, in his stage directions, that Isolde is to die in Brangaene's arms and Marke is to make a sign of blessing over the lovers' bodies. These directions are now generally ignored, with Isolde seemingly not dying at all but going off into some sort of mystical trance, usually standing up.

    Tristan is a unique opera, perhaps occupying a genre of its own (which one writer described as the "theater of passion"), but Wagner saw it as a tragedy, and the tragedy lies in the stark conflict between "das Wunderreich der Nacht" - the wondrous nocturnal realm of pure eros - and "der oede Tag," the barren world of day. Isolde does die in ecstasy, but the tale of the lovers is tragic only if the grim life of the world is seen to continue when the lovers are gone.
    Last edited by Woodduck; May-17-2018 at 05:29.

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  24. #29
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    That's an interesting view, but I think Wagner was doing more than merely tying up loose ends. The violence and tragic consequences of the confrontation between Kurwenal and the representatives of the outer world - Marke and Melot - fully rounds out these characters, showing Kurwenal as faithful unto death and Marke as both compassionate and truly tragic rather than merely wounded and pathetic. Wagner doesn't want us to forget the harsh world against which the defiant passion of the lovers is set, and this is revealed again at the very end when he indicates, in his stage directions, that Isolde is to die in Brangaene's arms and Marke is to make a sign of blessing over the lovers' bodies. These directions are now generally ignored, with Isolde seemingly not dying at all but going off into some sort of mystical trance, usually standing up.

    Tristan is a unique opera, perhaps occupying a genre of its own (which one writer described as the "theater of passion"), but Wagner saw it as a tragedy, and the tragedy lies in the stark conflict between "das Wunderreich der Nacht" - the wondrous nocturnal realm of pure eros - and "der oede Tag," the barren world of day. Isolde does die in ecstasy, but the tale of the lovers is tragic only if the grim life of the world is seen to continue when the lovers are gone.
    Some directors obviously haven't read that bit!

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