Monday, November 16, 2009

Opera, Opera, and more Opera

First, we have Salome.
I found Salome a bit disturbing. It's a one act opera by Richard Strauss about John the Baptist and Salome. So, Salome meets John the Baptist and falls in love with him. He refuses her because she is a daughter of Babylon after all. Her step father Herod, tells Salome that he will grant her any desire if she will dance for him. Salome hatches a plan that she will dance for Herod and in return ask for the death of John the Baptist. Then follows the dance of the seven veils. Which was quite a shocking dance when the opera was first written; but now Salome wears a nude suit, so I think it's less shocking than the libretto. It ends pretty much the same as in the Bible. Salome is presented with John the Baptist's head on a silver platter.
I found what Salome sings to John the Baptist quite alarming. No wonder the opera was such a scandal when was first performed. Salome is in love with John the Baptist. And all she does is sing about kissing his perfect red mouth and alabaster skin. And then at the end of the opera, she sings to his lifeless head. And then she kisses it. It was a little weird
With that being said, I did like the music! Also, the set was amazing. It was done in Gustav Klimt style. So aside from the creepiness of it all, the aesthetics were lovely.

We saw Rigoletto at the Volksoper. So it was performed in German of course. It seems to me that the Volksoper always persents their operas with a little bit of a modern twist to them. So Rigoletto was set in old Hollywood, probably the 1920's. I thought that was a clever way to present it. There is a scene at the beginning of the opera that's meant to illustrate the bad character of the duke (only he's not really a duke in this case, he was a movie star). In this version of the opera, there is a party on the movie set. And a woman tears her clothes off. I thought the nudity was unnecessary for several reasons. But mostly I think the director just wanted to shock the audience. Which he certainly did. Aside from that, I really enjoyed this opera. Gilda and Rigoletto were probably the most well performed parts I've heard the whole time I've been here. The ending is really sad. But that's opera for you.

Der Prinz von Hamburg
First modern opera I've seen, and probably the last. This opera is about a prince fighting in the 30 years War. It was written in the 1960's. The music is a tonal..... I do not like a tonal music. There's too much tension that builds up with no harmonious release! It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for two hours.
We did get the wonderful oppurtunity to meet the casting director of the theater because he's a member here. And so we got a special tour of the theater before hand. Which was amazing! So I did have a huge appreciation for the set, and the lighting. Also, this particular theater, Theater an der Wien (which isn't the normal theater we attend), specializes more in the acting aspect of opera. So I really did enjoy the acting of this opera. But the music was soo hard to sit through. It will probaby take a lot of convincing for me to see a modern opera any time soon.

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