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Thread: Salieri in the New Yorker

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Shatterhand View Post
    I'm still investigating the period, but...

    GLUCK
    GLUCK
    GLUCK
    GLUCK
    Mozart
    Salieri (I've only heard Les Danaides, but it's powerful and sinewy). I'll listen to half a dozen more this year.

    Haven't heard any of Haydn or Cimarosa's operas. Bach's Amadis de Gaule is brilliantly tuneful. Didn't like Paisiello's Nina.

    As for the French: Monsigny wrote two really attractive operas (Le roi et le fermier, Le déserteur), which deserve more fame. I've only heard one Grétry - Richard Coeur-de-lion - but it's inventive, and has the beautiful, once famous "Ô Richard, ô mon roi". The Italian Sacchini's Oedipe à Colone is moving, even sublime, with some lovely ensembles. I want to hear more Méhul -

    and Lemoyne's Phèdre. I nodded off during the 2017 Paris performance; crowded, rather stuffy, theatre, high up, and jet lag caught up with me. I vaguely remember some beautiful ensembles towards the end.

    There are plenty of excellent late 18th century operas beyond Mozart's seven!
    Maybe there are - not as good though - otherwise they would be better known.

    How many good 19THC operas are there besides the 30 or so in the repertoire?

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    Quote Originally Posted by stomanek View Post
    Maybe there are - not as good though - otherwise they would be better known.

    How many good 19THC operas are there besides the 30 or so in the repertoire?
    Many, there are a number of operas that aren't often performed as there aren't the singers that can do them justice. Interestingly Verdi's Macbeth and Don Carlo are in the repertoire now , whereas they were almost rarities over seventy years ago.

    N.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Shatterhand View Post
    I'm still investigating the period, but...

    ....Monsigny wrote two really attractive operas (Le roi et le fermier, Le déserteur), which deserve more fame. I've only heard one Grétry - Richard Coeur-de-lion - but it's inventive, and has the beautiful, once famous "Ô Richard, ô mon roi". The Italian Sacchini's Oedipe à Colone is moving, even sublime, with some lovely ensembles. I want to hear more Méhul -
    Yay! A kindred spirit. Thanks for those recommendations. I'll have to look up the Sacchini and Grétry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stomanek View Post
    Maybe there are - not as good though - otherwise they would be better known.

    How many good 19THC operas are there besides the 30 or so in the repertoire?
    Actually, from a "musical" perspective, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 19th century operas aren't any better, in the aggregate, than 18th century operas. What changed is the "musical language": the emphasis shifted from opera as a kind of ensemble performance of orchestra and singers (baroque and classical) to a music that showcased vocal performance with orchestral accompaniment. Acknowledging that all generalities are flawed, I would say that 19th century opera aficionados go to opera to hear the opera stars and the vocal performances, whereas earlier opera fans go for the "music", and less for the opera stars. Again, I understand that 19th century aficionados go for the music too, obviously, but it's a music that puts the operatic performer front and center. And I know that 18th century opera fans love a good singer.

    For instance, I'm an 18th century opera lover, but I haven't heard a single performance of an 18th century opera with Cecelia Bartoli that I like. She always strikes me as completely out of place, in terms of her voice and technique, always overpowering the orchestra and fellow singers. I think she's a stunningly beautiful singer, but I personally find her far better suited to 19th century opera.

    I would take any opera by Gluck to my desert island expulsion over reams of Wagner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vtpoet View Post
    Actually, from a "musical" perspective, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 19th century operas aren't any better, in the aggregate, than 18th century operas. What changed is the "musical language": the emphasis shifted from opera as a kind of ensemble performance of orchestra and singers (baroque and classical) to a music that showcased vocal performance with orchestral accompaniment. Acknowledging that all generalities are flawed, I would say that 19th century opera aficionados go to opera to hear the opera stars and the vocal performances, whereas earlier opera fans go for the "music", and less for the opera stars. Again, I understand that 19th century aficionados go for the music too, obviously, but it's a music that puts the operatic performer front and center. And I know that 18th century opera fans love a good singer.

    For instance, I'm an 18th century opera lover, but I haven't heard a single performance of an 18th century opera with Cecelia Bartoli that I like. She always strikes me as completely out of place, in terms of her voice and technique, always overpowering the orchestra and fellow singers. I think she's a stunningly beautiful singer, but I personally find her far better suited to 19th century opera.

    I would take any opera by Gluck to my desert island expulsion over reams of Wagner.
    I'm the same with Bartoli. Bar her from singing Mozart.

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    It always bothered me that Salieri got short shrift when discussions and writings always seemed to lean on the side of the great Mozart to the detriment of Salieri. Seemed he deserved better than that.
    It's not unlike similar feelings I've had about the disinterest in the fine composer and librettist Arrigo Boito, who always stood in the shadow of the genius Verdi.
    After reading much about their relationship, I actually came away with a feeling that even Verdi found some talents in Boito that he wished he had.

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  10. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by stomanek View Post
    I'm the same with Bartoli. Bar her from singing Mozart.
    Glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. Maybe my soul isn't dark and twisted after all...

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    Quote Originally Posted by vtpoet View Post
    Actually, from a "musical" perspective, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 19th century operas aren't any better, in the aggregate, than 18th century operas. What changed is the "musical language": the emphasis shifted from opera as a kind of ensemble performance of orchestra and singers (baroque and classical) to a music that showcased vocal performance with orchestral accompaniment. Acknowledging that all generalities are flawed, I would say that 19th century opera aficionados go to opera to hear the opera stars and the vocal performances, whereas earlier opera fans go for the "music", and less for the opera stars. Again, I understand that 19th century aficionados go for the music too, obviously, but it's a music that puts the operatic performer front and center. And I know that 18th century opera fans love a good singer.
    I have the opposite view - and so, apparently, did Gluck, who tried to get away from the "stand behind the footlights and sing your aria" format that allowed opera stars in the 18th century to cultivate vocal virtuosity and show-offery at the sacrifice of dramatic integrity and even of the musical score. 19th-century composers were similarly motivated as they gradually broke down the recitative-aria formula and the formality of set pieces in pursuit of a continuous, integrated, naturalistic flow of music, action and dialogue. With Wagner and those who came after him the "star singer" was more or less fully subordinated to the musical drama. Nobody goes to a performance of Otello, Pelleas et Melisande, Der Rosenkavalier or Lulu to hear flashy coloratura and admire the prima donna's gowns (well, maybe some people do).

    The trend nowadays is to "choreograph" the arias in Baroque and Classical opera with all sorts of action so that their formality (ABA, one basic emotion expressed in a couple of lines of text for five minutes) doesn't make the production look and feel static to modern sensibilities. But on a recording, the recitative-aria formula militates against the sense of dramatic movement that some people value in later opera. The greatest composers can overcome this to an extent, but I think it's a basic reason why 18th-century operas by composers not named Handel, Gluck and Mozart are rarely done despite the presence in them of much fine music.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-04-2019 at 19:24.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    It always bothered me that Salieri got short shrift ....
    Related to that, somewhere on Amazon there's a review of a CD of Fasch's music, and somebody wrote something to the effect that nobody who takes Bach seriously would ever consider Fasch anything but a trivial hack. I thought that was amusing since Fasch, according to CPE, was actually admired (or at least appreciated) by his father. Apparently Bach didn't take himself seriously... Call it the Salieri effect.

    Since reading the New Yorker article, I've been listening to Salieri's operas. There's no point at which I hit the repeat button, but to say that he was mediocrity incarnate goes too far. He can tell a good story. Maybe he's like a Thomas Dekker to Shakespeare's Shakespeare.

    That said, every now and then Salieri, like JC Bach, could really write something really transcendent. The Largo of his Concerto for flute and oboe is one such piece---like a long duet out of an opera. The entire concerto is really extraordinary.

    Edit: Mozart was said to have been a big fan of Pleyel. Now *there's* a composer more worthy of mediocrity's title.
    Last edited by vtpoet; Jun-04-2019 at 19:27.

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  14. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by vtpoet View Post
    Related to that, somewhere on Amazon there's a review of a CD of Fasch's music, and somebody wrote something to the effect that nobody who takes Bach seriously would ever consider Fasch anything but a trivial hack. I thought that was amusing since Fasch, according to CPE, was actually admired (or at least appreciated) by his father. Apparently Bach didn't take himself seriously... Call it the Salieri effect.

    Since reading the New Yorker article, I've been listening to Salieri's operas. There's no point at which I hit the repeat button, but to say that he was mediocrity incarnate goes too far. He can tell a good story. Maybe he's like a Thomas Dekker to Shakespeare's Shakespeare.

    That said, every now and then Salieri, like JC Bach, could really write something really transcendent. The Largo of his Concerto for flute and oboe is one such piece---like a long duet out of an opera. The entire concerto is really extraordinary.
    I will listen to the flute and oboe concerto - with some scepticism but with open ears - since I have heard quite a few Salieri orch/concerto pieces and found them a little plain. But who knows.

    A man who was one of the premiere composers in europe and star of the Viennese scene for 20 odd years could hardly be described as a mediocrity. That label really comes from Amadeus - and was Salieri's evaluation of himself relative to Mozart

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    Quote Originally Posted by vtpoet View Post
    Glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. Maybe my soul isn't dark and twisted after all...
    She's a popular Susanna though - probably among people that incline towards 19THC opera. I cant see any Mozart fan who delights in the fine art of Lucia Popp, for example - tolerating Bartoli's gargly singing, wide grins and rolling eyes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I have the opposite view - and so, apparently, did Gluck, who tried to get away from the "stand behind the footlights and sing your aria" format that allowed opera stars in the 18th century to cultivate vocal virtuosity and show-offery at the sacrifice of dramatic integrity...
    Then we're interpreting Gluck's reforms very differently. In fact, I would somewhat humorously write that I hold the opposite view to yours---and so apparently did Gluck. His intention was, after all, to bring the singer back into the ensemble's fold--in a sense. I would agree with everything else you've written---the static da capo form being just another element that differentiated 18th and 19th century opera.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stomanek View Post
    I will listen to the flute and oboe concerto - with some scepticism but with open ears....
    Yeah, give it a try. If you don't find the music compelling, then I can't think of anything else I'd recommend (at least based on the limited availability of his music).

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    Okay. Finally remembered the composer who I would nominate as the Patron Saint of Mediocrity: Franz Danzi.

    Had to go look him up. I think I've subconsciously evicted him from my mind palace. Every time I hear one of his musical compositions I want to go off and cut myself.

    My guess though, is that everybody has their own personal "Salieri" who will greet them in Hell---orchestra at the ready.
    Last edited by vtpoet; Jun-04-2019 at 20:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vtpoet View Post
    Okay. Finally remembered the composer who I would nominate as the Patron Saint of Mediocrity: Franz Danzi.

    Had to go look him up. I think I've subconsciously evicted him from my mind palace. Every time I hear one of his musical compositions I want to go off and cut myself.

    My guess though, is that everybody has their own personal "Salieri" who will greet them in Hell.---orchestra at the ready.
    I don't know. I have a couple of Danzi string quartet discs on CPO and have good memories of the music. Then again, I haven't listened to those cd's in about 15 years - good memories that go nowhere.

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