In which we discuss music as math homework, the excitement of "wrong" singing, Lawrence Tibbett's forehead, and the proper way to insult one's seatmates at the Met.
* Greg's writing at The Parterre Box! This publication "basically invented the way that modern opera queens talk" - it was a zine before it was a blog, which gives you an idea of its critical stance and aesthetic, which is all very exciting.
* Official ERER006 Youtube playlist with everything we heard in the show, plus more!
* The rather magisterial A History of Opera, by Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker (at indie bookseller/giantkiller bookshop.org, or a library near you!)
* a recording of castrato singer Alessandro Moreschi
* More on castrati: a physician's historical, cultural, artistic, theological and medical look at castrati (part one and part two),
Naomi Andre's Voicing Gender (buy it / library it) a book focusing on castrati in early 19th-century opera.
(And not to be a downer but of course we do still castrate children in 2020, just not for artistic reasons.)
* Amadeus, the movie - an enjoyable confection which gave us all many misconceptions about poor Salieri, and the song Rock Me, Amadeus
* The Queen of the Night aria! This delightful youtube "who sang it best?" roundup may be the opposite of the Voyager Golden Record: the cultural document which will convince the aliens to give Earth a wide berth, just in case. There are some tremendous feats of singing and costuming here, and it's a great demonstration of the range of different ways to sing the same music - if you don't think you have opinions about opera singing, this is a fun place to discover that you do. Also by the end of nearly seven minutes you may feel like taking some slow deep breaths and lying down for awhile.
* "Salammbo" in situ in Citizen Kane
* Sing Faster!: documentary about The Ring, from the stagehands' perspective
* Leonie Rysanek's 1996 farewell to the Met, just the curtain calls: heart-clutching, flower-flinging, nine minutes of howling applause, and a sports-fan bedsheet banner dangled out of a parterre box by someone in a suit and tie. Le-o-nie! Le-o-nie! I watched the entire thing and I triple dog dare you not to cry.
* Robert Wilson's Lohengrin is not currently on youtube, but here are some illustrative samples of his aesthetic:
* a trailer for Mozart's oratorio Der Messias: floating trees, a soprano pouring water on her own head, a dancer in an astronaut suit
* a trailer for La Traviata: horned heads, Dan-Flavin-eque hovering fluorescents, pallid ball gowns glinting in the high-contrast lighting
* a full recording of Einstein on the Beach - suspenders, school desks, gantries... Wilson collaborated with composer Philip Glass on the libretto, and in performance it runs about five hours without intermission, so per Wikipedia "the audience is permitted to enter and leave as desired."
* Bilingual Madama Butterfly (in English and Japanese, starring a Chinese-Australian soprano, performed in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo neighborhood)
* Tokyo's Nikikai Opera production of Madama Butterfly 2017, with (delightfully) an all-Japanese cast, including the white characters
* In April the Met put on a Gala-At-Home - as Greg described it, that performing arts thing of "we're going to put on a brave face and put on a show no matter what." High-level musicianship, endearing informality, can't beat the poignancy of the moment. The Times liked it.
* About the physics conundrum of remote music-making
* everybody's classical-music-critic crush Alex Ross! His writing itself is such a pleasure that I don't always even listen to the music that he's talking about... which might not sound like an endorsement, but it absolutely is. If you're going to dance about archi- I mean, read about opera, there is no better place to start. He's a staff writer at the New Yorker, and you can read much of his work for free on his excellent blog. Here he is on an unjustly forgotten Black Wagnerian (and her father, a Black Shakespearean), and on opera queens and gay operas.
His first two books, The Rest Is Noise (library link) and Listen To This (library link), both dip into opera, and his forthcoming third book is all about Wagner, sort of - due in September 2020.
This is my favorite single piece of his, a vivid, sprawling virtuoso essay which takes in classism and racism and the fetishization of the past, Missy Elliott and Timbaland and Steve Reich, and his own years in the wilderness going to punk rock shows at 924 Gilman (!!!) - among many other things. It first came out in 2004 and I still find it both relevant and thrilling.
HEARD ON THE SHOW:
- Christine Goerke with Christian Thielemann and the Dresden Staatskapelle, "Allein, Weh, ganz allein" from Elektra, Dresden, 2014 (Richard Strauss)
- The Consort of Musicke, "Fantasia a 6 (no. 2)" (William Byrd)
- Ton Koopman, "Fuga in G (BWV 578)" (Johann Sebastian Bach)
- The Academy of Ancient Music, Symphony no. 40 in G minor, first movement (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
- Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony no. 5 in C minor, first movement (Ludwig von Beethoven)
- Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Symphony no. 9 in D minor, first movement (Ludwig von Beethoven)
- Pierre Boulez and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, "IV. Peripetie, Sehr rasch" from Five Pieces for Orchestra (Arnold Schönberg)
- Raymond Leppard and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, "Mortal cosa son io" from Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria (Claudio Monteverdi)
- Rene Jacobs and Concerto Vocale, "Mortal cosa son io" from Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria (Claudio Monteverdi)
- Jessye Norman with Herbert von Karajan and the Wiener Philharmoniker, "Mild und leise wie er lächelt" from Tristan und Isolde (Richard Wagner)
- Franco Faggioli with Diego Fasolis and Concerto Köln, "Vo solcando un mar crudele" from Artaserse (Leonardo Vinci) (nope, different guy)
- Andras Korodi and the Budapest Philharmonic, "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from Orfeo ed Euridice (Christoph Willibald Gluck)
- Lawrence Brownlee, "Un'aura amorosa" from Cosi Fan Tutte, New York City, 2012 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
- Lucia Popp with Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra, "Der Hölle Rache" from The Magic Flute (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
- Rockwell Blake, "D'ogni più sacro impegno" from L'Occasione Fa Il Ladro, New York City, 1992 (Gioacchino Rossini)
- Leyla Gencer and Shirley Verrett with Francesco Molinari Pradelli, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra e Chorus, "Figlia impura di Bolena" from Maria Stuarda (Gaetano Donizetti)
- Franco Corelli from Poliuto (Gaetano Donizetti)
- Kiri te Kanawa with Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra, "Aria from Salammbo" (Bernard Herrmann)
- Elmer Fudd, "Kill the Wabbit" from What's Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese and Richard Wagner)
- Lawrence Tibbett with the Philadelphia Orchestra, "Leb wohl, du kühnes herrliches Kind" from Die Walküre (Richard Wagner)
- Leonie Rysanek with James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera and Chorus, "Entweihte Götter!" from Lohengrin (Richard Wagner)
- Lilli Lehmann, "Non mi dir" from Don Giovanni (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
- Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, "Humming Chorus" from Madama Butterfly (Giacomo Puccini)
- Sorasit D Guzheng, "Mo Li Hua"
- Celine Dion and Song Zuying, "Mo Li Hua," live in China, 2013
- Choeurs de l'Opera Grand d'Avignon, de Nice, de Toulon and de Tours, "Là, Sui Monte Dell' Est" from Turandot, Avignon, France, 2012 (Giacomo Puccini)
- Maria Callas, first entrance in "Tosca," Metropolitan Opera House, New York, 1965 (Giacomo Puccini)
- Maria Callas, finale of Act 2 of "Aida," Mexico, 1950 (Giuseppe Verdi)
- Ghena Dimitrova and Nicola Martinucci with Maurizio Arena and the Coro and Orchestra dell'Arena di Verona, "Gloria, gloria, o vincitore!" from Turandot, Arena di Verona, 1983 (Giacomo Puccini)
- Inge Borkh, "Barak, ich hab' es nicht getan!," from Die Frau Ohne Schatten (Richard Strauss)
- Daniel Barenboim and the Wiener Philharmoniker, "Mondscheinmusik" from Capriccio (Richard Strauss)
- Edo de Waart and the Orchestra of St Luke, "It Seems So Strange" from Nixon in China (John Adams)
- Trudy Ellen Craney with Edo de Waart and the Orchestra of St Luke, "I Am the Wife of Mao Tse-Tung" from Nixon in China (John Adams)
- Claudio Abbado and the Wiener Philharmoniker, "Act 2 Interlude" from Pelleas et Melisande (Claude Debussy)
- Lorraine Hunt Lieberson with William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment, "As with rosy steps the morn" from Theodora, Glyndebourne, UK, 1996 (George Frideric Handel)
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