Posts Tagged ‘TheRake’sProgress’

Operaplot: easily digestible operachunks.

If you’ve been following my tweets, you may have noticed that it’s #operaplot season!

What? You haven’t heard about #operaplot, the brainspurt of that blogging genius over at The Omniscient Mussel? Well, it’s high time you learned.

The rules are simple. Summarize an entire opera in one tweet (ie 140 characters, including the hashtag #operaplot). You have until Friday at midnight to submit up to 25 summaries. Then the whole lot of them will be shipped off to celebrity judge, tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Hopefully he has a good sense of humor.

The winners will be able to choose from a bounty of prizes donated by opera companies around the world, the biggest includes a trip to Ireland!

The entries are coming in fast and furious now, it’s kinda fun to watch them show up on the feed.  There’s a big trend towards writing limericks or couplets. Not really my style, but some of them are cute.

Here are my entries so far:

The Rake’s Progress

Country bumpkin moves to city,dumps Daisy Duke for Uncle Jesse lookalike. If you call that progress,you belong in a nuthouse too. #operaplot

Peter Grimes

What?!? ANOTHER apprentice!? What happened to the last one? OK, ONE more, but then I’m cutting you off. The borough’s talkin. #operaplot

The Consul

Magda:”Baby’s sick, Grandma’s sick, Dad’s missing. HELP!” State:”Take two forms, call back in the AM.” Single Payer:The Opera? #operaplot

Porgy and Bess

SBF iso SBM. Car,mule,legs optional. Happy dust OK. Just broke up w bf,so off to NYC for week. Write 2u l8r. (account deleted) #operaplot

And my personal favorite (hoping to get to Ireland with this one!):

Nixon in China

@kissinger23, new idea for comeback: covertly fund musical with me as the hero. Focus on positive. Can we get Bernstein? #operaplot

See! It’s fun! Go ahead and write some of your own! (Although if you’re starting a twitter account just for this, it may take a few days for your entries to show up in the feed…)


Apr 2010

Stravinsky the Comedian

Some really great theater can happen when opera composers play with the conventions of the genre.

In the comment section of the “What’s Opera Doc” post, Eph brought up a great bit in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Pinkerton, the brash American lieutenant  interrupts his aria almost mid phrase to offer his guest a drink of  Milk punch or Whiskey.  It’s a funny and surprising moment of reality, and reminded me of another, even more extreme example of arioso interruptus.

Stravinsky actually presses pause on an aria and then restarts it half an hour later.

In Act II, Scene 3 of The Rake’s Progress, Baba the Turk, the hero’s new wife, enters a plate smashing tirade of jealousy.  Literally plate smashing.  It’s in the score.  (“Scorned! Abused!”) In the middle of a ridiculously extended vocal candenza, Tom reaches the end of his nerves and plops his wig over her face, causing her to freeze in place, mid-aria.

[audio:|titles=Rake’s Progress Baba Before]

At the top of the next act, our now bankrupt hero’s properties are being auctioned off, including the still motionless Baba.  When this “unknown item” fetches the highest price by far, the auctioneer removes the wig and Baba springs to life, continuing the aria exactly where she left off a full 25 minutes earlier (depending on the length of intermission).  She continues her tirade, this time directed at the auction attendees. (“Sold! Annoyed!”)

[audio:|titles=Rake’s Progress Baba After]

That’s some pretty funny stuff.  (As opera goes.)  It should be pointed out that this opera was composed in 1948-1951, right around the juncture between modernism and post-modernism, which makes a lot of sense for those of you who for whom that sort of thing makes sense.  (See what I did there?)

(Excerpts from the London Digital recording with Riccardo Chailly and the London Sinfonietta.)


Feb 2010