Robert Jones

Wagner

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Dragonfly: "I don't think that she'll lose any sleep over the fact that I can't stand that kind of writing."

No, but of course you understand that because you do not share my esthetic preference, it is clear that you are mired in an unspeakable and unalterable depravity, and you should be shunned by all decent people. You have passed that point of evil at which spiritual redemption is possible.

Barbara

Geez, Barbara, it seems downright un-Christian of you to say that. -- Mike Hardy

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To go back to Thomas Wolfe for a moment, there's something I probably should have said about his writing. It is not always as lyrical and passionate as the excerpts I posted. No one's writing could be, nor would it be readable if it were. It would be overpowering and unintelligible -- as if a composer created a piece of music that consisted mainly of climaxes. A novelist must be a reporter as well as a poet, so that his poetry predominantly represents climaxes to his reports.

So, for instance, on page one of Look Homeward Angel, Wolfe writes:

"An Englishman named Gilbert Gaunt, which he later changed to Gant (a concession probably to Yankee phonetics), having come to Baltimore from Bristol in 1837 on a sailing vessel, soon let the profits of a public house which he had purchased roll down his improvident gullet."

A few pages later:

"Oliver entered the shop and asked a big bearded man with a wooden mallet for a job. He became the stone cutter's apprentice. He worked in that dusty yard five years. He became a stone cutter. When his apprenticeship was over he had become a man."

Not a patch of purpole prose to be seen!

Barbara

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Not a patch of purpole prose to be seen!

Right. Those are nearly as deftly compressed strokes of characterization as one of my all-time favorites, a line from Hugo's Toilers of the Sea:

"His was an immense probity, accompanied by a slight contraction of the lips."

Can't resist a gentle tease over the spelling of "purpole." In some zany way, it seems appropriate. ;-)

Ellen

___

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~ Getting away from 'Rand gossip' and back to Wagner...--- Call me a plebian, non-connosieur of opera that I am (regardless the exposure I've received from my Down Syndrome's preferences), but, I just don't care for most operas we've brought him to (and, he liked...and RECOGNIZED more in such [music-wise, not language-wise]...than I ever will). I appreciate some story-lines but find most extremely dra-a-a-a-g-g-g-ed out; can one say o-v-e-r-l-y? Enough so that, apart from RIGOLETTO, I'd not care to see/hear a repeat of any again. --- Excepting only, Bizet's CARMEN, but, that's because the music is memorable on-its-own. (Ok; maybe also Pucinni's MADAME BUTTERFLY...maybe...we're talking the whole thing here.)

~ I've found Wagner, however, on some kind of 'cusp'. Some of his music is 'stand-alone.' The rest is appreciable ONLY with watching the opera itself. To paraphrase W.C.Fields, "If Nietzche turned on him, he can't be all bad."

~ Anyone who can compose the likes of "The Ride of the Valkyries" can't be (rationally)...consigned to a trash heap.

LLAP

J:D

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John -- Have you seen The Flying Dutchman, one of Wagner's early and shorter opera? It's a fairly tight story with good, memorable music.

Also I find that as a story Walkure is one of Wagner's best and most human operas, with great music.

From both a dramatic and musical perspective, "Wotan's Farewell" at the end is one of the best scenes in all opera. Wotan's favorite daughter has gone against his will because, as she expalined, she knew that his true heart went against his explicit orders. But he must punish her. He's angry at the disodediance but torn up inside. As he prepares to put her into a magic sleep he sings of how never again will he look into her eyes, hear her happy voice, etc. As a concession to her, rather than allow the first comer to awaken her and take her as a wife, he surrounds the rock with a fire that can only be breached by a fearless hero -- we know it will be Siegfried -- who is "freer than I, the god." Wotan is enslaved by his only web of lies and decit. The drama as Brunnhilde and Wotan look at each other for the last time, the words and the unsurpassed music make it a memorable scene.

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Also I find that as a story Walkure is one of Wagner's best and most human operas, with great music.

From both a dramatic and musical perspective, "Wotan's Farewell" at the end is one of the best scenes in all opera. Wotan's favorite daughter has gone against his will because, as she expalined, she knew that his true heart went against his explicit orders. But he must punish her. He's angry at the disodediance but torn up inside. As he prepares to put her into a magic sleep he sings of how never again will he look into her eyes, hear her happy voice, etc. As a concession to her, rather than allow the first comer to awaken her and take her as a wife, he surrounds the rock with a fire that can only be breached by a fearless hero -- we know it will be Siegfried -- who is "freer than I, the god." Wotan is enslaved by his only web of lies and decit. The drama as Brunnhilde and Wotan look at each other for the last time, the words and the unsurpassed music make it a memorable scene.

Well, Ed, I finally got around to watching that great DVD of "Die Walkure" with Levine.

What a great production! You picked a great one to recommend. Great voices, great acting, great music, great staging, great production values. Kurt Moll was Hunding. I'm becoming a big Kurt Moll fan.

This last scene could have had me spellbound with emotion but for one thing: it was all Wotan's doing. As far as I could tell, he could have let Brunnhilde off scot-free. Nothing compelled him to do anything to her, especially after her very eloquent explanation of her actions. Were I her, I would have been bitter with anger and hatred at her fate. I couldn't feel much sympathy for them as a result. But -- if one could leave that aside -- which I personally couldn't -- I see what you mean.

Now I'm hooked -- I want to see the rest of the cycle.

Judith

Edited by Judith

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By the way, while many might disagree with me, I see Puccini's Madama Butterfly as the same in terms of integration of music and drama as many Wagner opera. I saw that one again recently and the "Un bel di" is in the category of the Tristan aria as one of the handful of best in all of music.)

Today was Opera DVD day. I've also got a DVD of "Butterfly" that's been sitting around since the 2005 TOC conference and I just got around to watching it tonight.

The "Un bel di" aria made my hair stand up. Literally -- the hair on the back of my neck stood up. And the ending! My god, that was intense.

I've often compared the music of Vaughan Williams to rolling naked in velour sheets. Well, Puccini is like bathing naked in heavy cream. Stunningly beautiful. But god, from the first scene you want to kick that cad Pinkerton into a pit of boiling lava.

Judith

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Judith -- The mythic nature of the story in Wagner's Ring and the rather large plot holes in those opera do often undermine the logic of the emotional impact of the drama. In the case of Wotan in Walkure, we see a continuance of his deceit from Das Rheingold. Yes, the rational thing would be for Wotan to say "To hell (for Nibelheim!) with my wife." But, alas, he gave his word. That's why I love the line in his Farewell about how the man who will wake Brunnhilde will be "Freier aus Ich, der Gott" ("Freer than I, the God.")

The "Un Del Di" is truly one of the great -- perhaps the greatest -- aria ever. It indeed sends chills up your spine! Your descriptions of your reactions to Vaughan Williams and Puccini certainly point to the sensual nature of music. Just make sure you don't roll in the cream before the rolling in velour sheets; it could be rather messy!

By the way, even though this is a Wagner thread, here's the National Symphony doing the Dvorak New World Symphony on March 17 at the Kennedy Center. I had the best seat in the house, on the side overlooking the stage. I could see the notes on the score of the violists in front of me. And the music was great!

0317072203a.jpg

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Judith -- Speaking of you bathing in heavy cream, there is a Richard Strauss piece entitled "Schlagobers" or whipped cream. Years ago I recall a very politically incorrect album cover of a Germanic-looking blond in a huge mound of the the stuff with her head poking out of the top and a hand poking out as she licked her finger. Sadly I can't find that picture online, only the little chocolate cover below. Of course if you want to post your whipped cream picture ...

Schlagobers.jpg

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The mythic nature of the story in Wagner's Ring and the rather large plot holes in those opera do often undermine the logic of the emotional impact of the drama. In the case of Wotan in Walkure, we see a continuance of his deceit from Das Rheingold. Yes, the rational thing would be for Wotan to say "To hell (for Nibelheim!) with my wife." But, alas, he gave his word.

Ah -- but therein lies a loophole! Even though HE gave his word, when Brunnhilde goes about and commits an act of free will, AGAINST his explicit instructions, and even in the face of his threats when she suggested that she was thinking along those lines, he could have let her off the hook.

That's why I love the line in his Farewell about how the man who will wake Brunnhilde will be "Freier aus Ich, der Gott" ("Freer than I, the God.")

Yes -- that part was poignant. If the plot had been slightly different, the entire scene could have had me weeping to the point where I couldn't see the screen.

The "Un Del Di" is truly one of the great -- perhaps the greatest -- aria ever. It indeed sends chills up your spine!

One of the choral groups in which I sing is now in rehearsals for a concert of opera choruses. Last night we did the "Humming Chorus" from "Madame Butterfly". Now that I know its context in the opera, it got to me to the point where I could hardly do it. God, that's a powerful work!

Your descriptions of your reactions to Vaughan Williams and Puccini certainly point to the sensual nature of music. Just make sure you don't roll in the cream before the rolling in velour sheets; it could be rather messy!

Vaughan Williams before Puccini. Got it. Check. :smile:

By the way, even though this is a Wagner thread, here's the National Symphony doing the Dvorak New World Symphony on March 17 at the Kennedy Center. I had the best seat in the house, on the side overlooking the stage. I could see the notes on the score of the violists in front of me. And the music was great!

I love those newer concert halls that have seating available on or behind the stage. I've never actually had the opportunity to use those seats -- they've either been sold out or they've been used by a chorus when I've been in the halls -- but I can tell from having been in the chorus myself so many times that the sound from up there is fantastic.

Judith

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Speaking of you bathing in heavy cream, there is a Richard Strauss piece entitled "Schlagobers" or whipped cream. Years ago I recall a very politically incorrect album cover of a Germanic-looking blond in a huge mound of the the stuff with her head poking out of the top and a hand poking out as she licked her finger. Sadly I can't find that picture online, only the little chocolate cover below. Of course if you want to post your whipped cream picture ...

Hmmm. I was thinking more along the lines of the kind of cream one puts in coffee, or the kind one would use for Fettucine Alfredo. One would have to fill an appropriate bathing pool with the stuff -- say, one of those fine Roman fountains? If you'll bear the expense, I'll do the bathing and provide the photo -- suitably modestly immersed, of course. :queen:

Judith

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Given the extra-musical Straussian references in Symphonia Domestica - makes you wonder just where he was coming from with Schlagobers........

Judith, as a V-W fan, how were you struck when first hearing Job - A masque for dancing?

Incidentally I don't recommend the velour with Sinfonia Antartica!

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Judith, as a V-W fan, how were you struck when first hearing Job - A masque for dancing?

Actually, I wasn't. I know I've heard the piece somewhere in my vast collection of RVW CDs, but I don't remember it. Perhaps it's an acquired taste. I know that the first few times I heard the Britten "War Requiem" it left me kind of lukewarm, but after that it really took hold of me, and now is one of my favorite pieces of all time.

Incidentally I don't recommend the velour with Sinfonia Antartica!

Well -- not unless one has many layers of it! :laugh: That is a rather stark piece -- lots of sharp edges, but I like stark beauty, and that's one of the CDs I often stick in the car CD player and leave there for months on end.

Judith

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Judith, et al -- There are lots of irrational elements in Wagner's plots. After all, Parsifal is supposed to be an innocent fool which somehow makes him a hero, sort of. So a question for some thread might be "What is the most rational opera, even if you're not a fan of the music?"

I'm a big fan of Vaughan William's Symphony Antartica, originally done for the soundtrack for the film Scott of the Antartic. The Adrian Boult version with the London Philharmonic is a classic but I like the Pervin with London. It contains the spoken preludes to the four movements, from Shelley, the Psalms, Coleridge and Scott's diary.

Judith, be careful when you listen to it: velour and cream are one thing; but didn't you get like fourteen feet of snow?

Robert -- "Yes" to Wagner, "Yes" to Mahler, "Yes" to Richard Strauss, "Yes" to Steiner, "Yes" to Herrmann, "Yes"!!!!!

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I'm a big fan of Vaughan William's Symphony Antartica, originally done for the soundtrack for the film Scott of the Antartic. The Adrian Boult version with the London Philharmonic is a classic but I like the Pervin with London. It contains the spoken preludes to the four movements, from Shelley, the Psalms, Coleridge and Scott's diary.

The Previn recording is my favorite as well. I love the way the reader reads the spoken parts. In general, I prefer Previn to Boult for recordings of RVW, even though Boult was good friends with RVW and knew exactly what he wanted. Previn takes a slightly slower tempo and somehow makes a warmer, more lush sound. I've got the complete symphonies by Previn.

Judith, be careful when you listen to it: velour and cream are one thing; but didn't you get like fourteen feet of snow?

Careful?!?! Listening to that piece got me to GO to Antarctica!! Be careful, people, music can have strange effects on one....

Judith

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~ Clearly, I'm more 'music' oriented than poetic-language oriented, though there's some of the latter I have my fave or two of (Poe, for one). Re the combining, only Rod McKuen (he did a record or two, and the music MADE his poetry interesting) interested me a while back...but, not all that much to search for more, to be truthful.

~ However, since 'Antartica' was brought up, let me repeat my praise for Vangelis' soundtrack to the Japanese-made movie NANKYOKU MONOGATARI. You hear that music, and you really want to visit the place! (You watch the movie, and you need to cry...unless you hate dogs.)

LLAP

J:D

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~ However, since 'Antartica' was brought up, let me repeat my praise for Vangelis' soundtrack to the Japanese-made movie NANKYOKU MONOGATARI. You hear that music, and you really want to visit the place! (You watch the movie, and you need to cry...unless you hate dogs.)

I read the Wikipedia entry on the film. Not for me, thank you; watching "Eight Below" was hard enough, and that fictionalization of the account softened the reality of the matter quite a bit.

Judith

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See my piece on How Al Gore is Ruining Opera under the Article thread, which is about Die Walkure.

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/in...amp;#entry25358

Ed: Great analysis of the overanalysis second-raters are grafting onto Wagner's great works.

I have always said that Wagner was the father of heavy metal, an observation borne out by the heavy usage of low brass and "speed metal" thrash guitars in the soundtrack to "300."

I do not know ONE metalhead who, if they're at all into classical music, does not revere Richard Wagner.

Hence, you will find the staging, lighting and fx at a Dio or Metallica concert in concordance with the proper staging of a Wagner opera than you will by going to a lot of today's productions of Wagner, it seems.

Edited by Robert Jones

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Judith:

~ Quite understandable; I agree that you probably wouldn't want to 'see' that version. Yes, EIGHT BELOW was melancholy enough re the story line. The Japanese version is it cubed. Kleenex needed.

~ But, you should still, ntl, check out Vangelis' Soundtrack (no narration, if that's what you're thinking of; JUST music...which is beautiful.)

LLAP

J:D

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On 3/19/2007 at 12:01 AM, Judith said:

Today was Opera DVD day. I've also got a DVD of "Butterfly" that's been sitting around since the 2005 TOC conference and I just got around to watching it tonight.

The "Un bel di" aria made my hair stand up. Literally -- the hair on the back of my neck stood up. And the ending! My god, that was intense.

I've often compared the music of Vaughan Williams to rolling naked in velour sheets. Well, Puccini is like bathing naked in heavy cream. Stunningly beautiful. But god, from the first scene you want to kick that cad Pinkerton into a pit of boiling lava.

Judith

You are so right Judith. I am not a sad person and I am not a fan of sad songs . . . but for some crazy reason I love the two following arias. If you want to feel some strong emotions, listen to them. Both are on You Tube.

Look up Judith's suggestion, with singing by Renata Tebaldi; "Un bel dì vedremo"; Madama Butterfly; 1951; Giacomo Puccini. Un bel di vedremo (One Beautiful Day) is truly beautiful. Around 3:00 plus in, you may be wiping away tears. It is the best ever, in my amateur opinion. Wow.

And I like “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The lyrics are by Charles Hart, from the Broadway musical, ”The Phantom of the Opera, and I think the best version may be sung by Sarah Brightman. Once again go to 3 minutes in if you are short of time. Powerful. Peter

“Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”

You were once my one companion
You were all that mattered
You were once a friend and father
Then my world was shattered

Wishing you were somehow here again
Wishing you were somehow near
Sometimes it seemed if I just dreamed
Somehow you would be here

Wishing I could hear your voice again
Knowing that I never would
Dreaming of you would help me to do
All that you dreamed I could

Passing bells and sculpted angels
Cold and monumental
Sing for you the wrong companions
You were warm and gentle

Too many years fighting back tears
Why can’t the past just die

Wishing you were somehow here again
Knowing we must say goodbye
Try to forgive
Teach me to live
Give me the strength to try

No more memories
No more silent tears
No more gazing across the wasted years
Help me say goodbye

Help me say goodbye

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