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Thread: Opera Time Frames in the Synopsis

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Default Opera Time Frames in the Synopsis

    Just for fun:

    I can think of many operas that the whole story occurs over only a couple days or so of time, such as La Sonnambula, Roberto Devereaux, L'elisir d'amore, Barber of Seville, Rheingold, Hansel and Gretel, Fidelio, Flying Dutchman, Meistersinger, etc.

    Some though have much longer time frames.

    I think Wagner gets away with longer time frames that happen between operas such as Siegfried was a baby when we leave Walkure, but is a grown man when we begin Siegfried.

    Flotow's Martha has a couple week gap between when the girls escape the farm house and when they are spotted at lunch during the hunt, and then there is probably another couple weeks before Lady Harriett in repentance approaches Lyonel to offer herself to him in marriage.

    La fille du Regiment seems to have an interim period of weeks between the two parts.

    La Traviata has a month or so before Alfredo returns from being abroad after the duel.


    __________________________________________________ __
    Any more examples of operas with expanded time frames?

    Are the majority of opera plots pretty much contained in a short time frame of a few days?

    Other thoughts?
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Mar-31-2020 at 17:23.
    "Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Sahara of musical trash."
    --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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    Member sharkeysnight's Avatar
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    Eugene Onegin comes to mind, he goes and farts around in Europe or whatever for a few months after the duel.

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sharkeysnight View Post
    Eugene Onegin comes to mind, he goes and farts around in Europe or whatever for a few months after the duel.
    I’m not sure but I think that at least the original novel takes place throughout a few years.

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    One fictional opera that tries to tell a lengthy story is Der ferne Klang, which takes place over fifteen years, watching the separate lives Fritz and Grete take.

    Several operas at least loosely based on historical events come to mind.

    Boris Godunov starts in 1598 and ends in 1605.

    Both Andrea Chénier and Dialogues des Carmélites are set during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror and take place over about 5 years, 1789-1794.

    Akhnaten spans from 1370 BCE to 1358 BCE, and, if you count the epilogue, it ends in the "present."


    And sticking with Philip Glass, The Voyage starts during the last glacial period (so tens of thousands of years ago), has act 2 in 1492, and act three in 2092. A strong contender for the longest time span, no?

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    Madama Butterfly
    Manon Lescaut
    Werther
    Eugene Onegin
    Lucia di Lammermoor
    Il trovatore
    La forza del destino
    Jenufa

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    Quote Originally Posted by SixFootScowl View Post
    Just for fun:

    I can think of many operas that the whole story occurs over only a couple days or so of time, such as La Sonnambula, Roberto Devereaux, L'elisir d'amore, Barber of Seville, Rheingold, Hansel and Gretel, Fidelio, Flying Dutchman, Meistersinger, etc.

    Some though have much longer time frames.

    La Traviata has a month or so before Alfredo returns from being abroad after the duel.


    __________________________________________________ __
    Any more examples of operas with expanded time frames?

    Are the majority of opera plots pretty much contained in a short time frame of a few days?

    Other thoughts?
    When did Alfredo have a duel? What did I miss?

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    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Simon Boccanegra has an infant daughter in the prologue who's an adult in the start of act 1.

    Parsifal isn't very specific about timelines but I think you're supposed to understand that Parsifal has been gone for multiple decades by the time he returns in Act 3.

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    Senior Member Sieglinde's Avatar
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    Amelia might be the oldest "young maiden" in opera! She was old enough to have vivid memories of her caretaker, and 25 years passed, so she's near 30. Of course, the time skip can't be smaller since Simon was a real person and we know when he came to power and when he died. Also, the Black Death just casually happened during the time skip but nobody mentions that.

    And then some productions don't even TRY to age the characters after the Prologue, as if the story isn't confusing enough already. Even funnier when some of them do age and some don't! And what was everyone DOING during that time? Fiesco was raising his own granddaughter without ever noticing her pendant (and dramatically lurking in the shadows I guess). Simon is increasingly Done with everyone's bull$hit and pining for his one true love, the sea. Paolo presumably has an entire Gets Corrupted By Power arc and goes from "well-meaning if a bit shady" to "comic book villain".
    Last edited by Sieglinde; Apr-01-2020 at 00:42.

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    When did Alfredo have a duel? What did I miss?
    When Alfredo went back to the nightclub and threw the money at Violetta, then he got into it with the Baron and they agreed on a duel. Can't remember who threw the glove down to start it. Then the act ends and the next act starts with Violetta in her sick bed and she gets a letter that the duel happened and the baron was wounded but not killed. So you never see the duel, which is just assumed between acts.
    "Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Sahara of musical trash."
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    The things I learn every day. Thanks.

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    The things I learn every day. Thanks.
    Going through my DVDs, not all productions show this very clearly. The best one may be the set with Gruberova. Watch the Baron throw the glove at Alfredo at 3:39, then Alfredo immediately picks it up accepting the challenge. It all happens pretty quickly, but after that you see Alfredo clutching the glove.
    "Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Sahara of musical trash."
    --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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