NWR Opera and classical concert notes

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Po-yu Sung, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. I'm happy to read more, although I don't have a gramophone. I agree it's pointless arguing about whether it (and plenty of other art, for that matter) is absurd
  2. Talking about home work, I remember the summer break when I carry all 14 CDs of Solti's Ring cycle including nice Chinese translation of libretto (quite a bit cost for a high school student in Taiwan) and locked myself in my room listening through it. Not that easy for a Wagner beginner!

    Decades later, the middle (big part) of Rheinsgold and some parts of Siegfried still bore me....

    I always quite like Parsifal; though it's indeed less 'defined' than Tristan, which by itself is a complete universe, or Die Meistersinger, another very different universe. Apparently Wagner tried to say what he wanted to say in Tannhauser in a deeper or better way, but I guess the topic is either still too large or can't be easily answered anyway. Music-wise Parsifal is absolutely precious, even when it is rather 'meditational'.
  3. I think the Ring can be seen on many levels. George Bernard Shaw apparently saw it as a socialist vision of the destruction of bourgeois society. Others have recently advanced the view that it is a satire on bourgeois do-gooding politicians. Certainly, the endeavors of most characters in the Ring are in vain and there is a sense that things must begin anew.

    I agree that many of the characters are rather unpleasant - but they all get their comeuppance!
  4. IMHO, there are (broadly speaking) two genres of opera which can each give enormous pleasure, but in somewhat different ways.

    The first is based mainly on exquisite music, sometimes but not always enhanced by a good libretto. What Tom calls prancing about on the stage rarely adds to the enjoyment, although it is often necessary. Supreme examples of this genre, for me, include late Strauss (Daphne, Capriccio), the Ring, Don Carlos, and some early bel canto.

    The second does depend on dramatic interpretation as well as great music, and sometimes falls pretty flat if the dramatic (or comic) element fails to deliver. Examples of this genre include the three Mozart/Da Ponte masterpieces, Traviata, Trovatore, Tosca, Falstaff, Gianni Schicci and Onegin. Trovatore demands at least three singers who can act, and Tosca falls flat if the sexual tension between Tosca and Scarpia is missing.
  5. It seems Po that you agree with Rossini's famous assessment of Wagner: "Beautiful moments but terrible quarter hours"
  6. A few friends enjoyed a very good evening listening to Verdi's requiem at the ROH last night. We were in a box high up which would normally be rather disastrous viewing wise but given it was a concert we shuffled the chairs around and enjoyed the expansive view of the auditorium which was dimly illuminated. It really was quite something when the Dies irae thundered out, though even by that point I noted quite a few people asleep in the boxes opposite, not quite the response to calamities being sung. Though the music did take my mind back to the extraordinary frescos in the Santa Maria Assunta in San Gimignano which seem to match its scale and terror. Lise Davidsen was also fabulous. Her voice has an incredible quiet beauty about it that is difficult to describe.
  7. Said by Rossini! :p Semiramide and Guillem Tell are not free from exhausting moments....
    Spenser Hilliard likes this.
  8. I was there too Gareth. How you could fall asleep in that I don’t know, unless you have zero interest in music. A fabulous rendition. I was in a Verdi frame of mind having just been to the Verdi festival in Parma so I think I was in tune. I kept on hearing little elements of Tosca. I went to an off-stage rehearsal of just the chorus a week ago, and unfortunately you lose quite a bit of the definition in the auditorium in comparison, but they really are excellent. The lady soloists were particularly strong I thought, even with Pappano waving his hand in the mezzo’s face half the time!
  9. Pappano's waving was rather odd I thought given she was (from my view) less than a foot in front of him. Must have been very off-putting.
  10. Pappano strikes me as very interested in Pappano
  11. I find it pretty much impossible trying to foist my own interpretation of the cycle onto people who are wholly set against Wagner on account of his published beliefs rather than his music per se.

    I have some sympathy with Shaw’s views based on Wagner’s politics as opposed to his nasty racism/anti-semitism (I read The Perfect Wagnerite every few years and recommend it to everyone I argue with), but your last sentence sums it up. They all get it up ‘em by the time the apocalypse arrives, or do I mean Armageddon...
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  12. I tend to agree, David, but in my dotage I find it full of silliness rather than profundity, a perception my twenty year old self would have been appalled by. The music itself I find more and more compelling, even the bits I once found boring, and as far as I'm concerned one simply has to see the text as part of the musical argument rather than something of any independent interest, though I have always wondered how it seems to a native german speaker nowadays.
  13. Again I find myself agreeing with you, Thom. When I do get a rare chance to listen to Wagner live, I just immerse myself in the music. The so-called boring bits just add an interlude for meditation before the next chords which wrench the soul. The story becomes almost an irrelevance at times.

    A friend who I count as very clever indeed saw her first Gotterdamerung at CG recently and she got very tied up in the characters, as one would at the theatre, but I think that got in the way of the music for her.

    That said, I would always prefer to see the drama unfold on the stage along with the live music. I’ve been writing to Wagner quite a bit lately, but it doesn’t really work for me as background or wallpaper. I think you do need emersion.
  14. I have been to quite a few concert performances of Wagner operas of late, including Opera North’s Ring, and Parsifal/Tristan with Rattle in Berlin, and I am beginning to find them almost more compelling. You see the orchestra at their work, not much action happens in Wagner so the singers can convey action with a look or a hand, and no one can grumble about, or get distracted by, the staging. The music and singing alone is so engrossing, it’s a different way of experiencing it but equally valid in my view. The orchestra can drown out the singers sometimes, but that just requires some sensitivity from the baton.
    Alex Jagger and Thom Blach like this.
  15. It was superb on R3. MIght be worth downloading it.... I was intending to do that, but I seem to have lost touch with my media server!

    get_iplayer --prefs-add --preset aactomp3 --command-radio='ffmpeg -i "<filename>" -c:v copy -c:a libmp3lame -q:a 0 -y "<dir>/<fileprefix>.mp3" && rm "<filename>"'

    get_iplayer --get 42023 --preset=aactomp3 --force --overwrite
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
  16. Can anyone comment from experience on the famous Bayreuth sound? What is different about it?
  17. Wood, in a word.
    Gareth Powell likes this.
  18. I have been to Bayreuth several times. I think I've been to 16 performances. The acoustics are superb. Everything is crystal-clear. The auditorium consists almost entirely of wood - wooden seats, wooden pillars, a bare wooden floor. The orchestra pit is also partly covered and this reduces and filters the orchestra sound, so the singers are not drowned out.
  19. So it's acoustics then (aside from the aesthetic of wood)?
  20. Yes, the use of wood is deliberate - to aid the acoustics. The carpet was removed from the auditorium at Covent Garden for the same reason, about 20 years ago.
  21. Thank you, interesting. Does that get picked up in recordings or is it really only apparent if you're there in person?
  22. I think live recordings from Bayreuth tend to be very clear. I have some mono ones from the 1950s that are fairly good. Of course a lot depends on the ability of the sound engineers and where they place the microphones.
  23. So you're saying that in his attempts to create Gesamtkunstwerke, Wagner was a failure.
  24. Don't suppose you ever get a reply?
    Mark Crann, Ken Oliver and Thom Blach like this.

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