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  1. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    19 Sep '13 18:15
    So I'm being taken to see this opera. My knowledge of it is limited to the plot outline ... How best to prepare for the experience?
  2. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    19 Sep '13 18:19
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    So I'm being taken to see this opera. My knowledge of it is limited to the plot outline ... How best to prepare for the experience?
    Read about the migration patterns of Monarch butterflies on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly#Migration
  3. 19 Sep '13 19:19
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    So I'm being taken to see this opera. My knowledge of it is limited to the plot outline ... How best to prepare for the experience?
    Listen to excerpts first of which there are plenty on youtube. Prepare to be tricked by a master of the theme and variation, so subtle he will not let on when he's tricking your sure to be delighted ears. Puccini interwove various American themes into the music including the US national anthem in a masterful manner. Madam Butterfly is a great opera, tuneful, well orchestrated, written at the peak of Puccini's creative powers. No doubt you're in for a treat. Few operas are as beloved as Butterfly and deserves its place in the greater pantheon of great works of Italian opera and music in general. Just to give you an idea, my metalhead teen came with me to Butterfly when my wife had another commitment. He thrououghly enjoyed himself and marveled at the great writing.Where and what company is staging Butterfly?
  4. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    20 Sep '13 12:15
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Listen to excerpts first of which there are plenty on youtube. Prepare to be tricked by a master of the theme and variation, so subtle he will not let on when he's tricking your sure to be delighted ears. Puccini interwove various American themes into the music including the US national anthem in a masterful manner. Madam Butterfly is a great opera, tun ...[text shortened]... njoyed himself and marveled at the great writing.Where and what company is staging Butterfly?
    http://www.capetownopera.co.za/index.php/season/madama-butterfly
  5. 20 Sep '13 12:33 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    http://www.capetownopera.co.za/index.php/season/madama-butterfly
    I couldn't tell immediately from the website whether the production is in English and/or whether there are sub/surtitles.

    You may want to find out (though sometimes you need subtitles when it is in English). The only reason I mention this is that, if you only have a basic outline of the plot, there are likely to be periods where people are singing away and you won't have the foggiest idea what's going on.

    So you might like to read a translation of the libretto. Here is one I found, but others may have better suggestions.

    http://www.jmu.edu/forlang/eastwest/butterflylibretto.pdf

    It is a wonderful opera. It's one of my favourites (though I am not a huge opera fan) not just because of the music, but because the plot is so tragic but also so believable.

    Edit : I noticed that the link doesn't include any 'stage directions', so the ending looks a bit weird.

    Edit 2 : This one looks better from this perspective.

    http://www.murashev.com/opera/Madama_Butterfly_libretto_English
  6. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    21 Sep '13 20:09
    In the event, it was fantastic.

    Were there any decent opera writers after Puccini?
  7. 22 Sep '13 02:49
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    In the event, it was fantastic.

    Were there any decent opera writers after Puccini?
    Quite a few contemporaries such as Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Humperdinck, and post-Puccini Richard Strauss, Cilea, Ives, Elgar (although not actually an opera operatic in breadth in his Dream of Gerontius), Poulenc, Debussy, Berg, Korngold's Tote Stadt is a masterpiece, Stravinsky, Manuel de Falla, Busoni. Jake Heggie's Moby Dick(2011) is a masterpiece. One can also never forget Porgy and Bess by Grershwin and Bernstein's Candide. Britten wrote a few more than decent operas. Respighi also wrote great operas such as La Fiamma.

    I am glad you enjoyed Butterfly. Don't miss Turandot if it comes your way.
  8. 22 Sep '13 04:52 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Quite a few contemporaries such as Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Humperdinck, and post-Puccini Richard Strauss, Cilea, Ives, Elgar (although not actually an opera operatic in breadth in his Dream of Gerontius), Poulenc, Debussy, Berg, Korngold's Tote Stadt is a masterpiece, Stravinsky, Manuel de Falla, Busoni. Jake Heggie's Moby Dick(2011) is a masterpiece. O as La Fiamma.

    I am glad you enjoyed Butterfly. Don't miss Turandot if it comes your way.
    If we are including contemporaries, as scacchipazzo has done, in this list, then in my humble opinion the most distinguished operatic composer of the age was Janacek, who was born a few years before and died a few years after Puccini. I consider Jenufa, Katya Kabanova, The Cunning Little Vixen and The Makropoulos Case (although the last of these is more uneven) to be the single most impressive body of work in twentieth-century opera.

    I'm glad scacchipazzo mentions England's very own Benjamin Britten, and I think "more than decent" understates the case; Peter Grimes is a tragic masterpiece; Billy Budd's terrific too; and I wonder if there's been a better comic opera in the twentieth century than Albert Herring.

    Poulenc's Dialogue des Carmelites is slightly newer than all the above (dating from the 1950s) and is one of the most harrowing, intense emotional experiences in opera.

    I admire Puccini, but for me the works mentioned above are greater than anything Puccini wrote. It might be acknowledged, however, that they are not as immediately accessible. I'm glad you enjoyed Madame Butterfly, in any case.
  9. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    22 Sep '13 17:53 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    If we are including contemporaries, as scacchipazzo has done, in this list, then in my humble opinion the most distinguished operatic composer of the age was Janacek, who was born a few years before and died a few years after Puccini. I consider Jenufa, Katya Kabanova, The Cunning Little Vixen and The Makropoulos Case (although the last of these is more un ...[text shortened]... hat they are not as immediately accessible. I\'m glad you enjoyed Madame Butterfly, in any case.
    It was nice to sense that I'm not completely emotionally detached.

    Is it traditional to boo the Yankee at curtain call?

    My original question stemmed from a feeling that Puccini really seems to be about popular culture, and I could get how his shows were popular hits. I also thought that the advent of cinema and later, rock and roll, might have pinched off some of that appeal - leaving opera in a bit of a void.

    I will look into Janacek.

    I might add to that list of yours The Black Rider and Alice, collaborations between Robert Wilson and Tom Waits.
  10. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    22 Sep '13 17:58
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Read about the migration patterns of Monarch butterflies on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly#Migration
    I could imagine Meredith Monk doing something unsuitably settling with that.
  11. 22 Sep '13 18:41
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    If we are including contemporaries, as scacchipazzo has done, in this list, then in my humble opinion the most distinguished operatic composer of the age was Janacek, who was born a few years before and died a few years after Puccini. I consider Jenufa, Katya Kabanova, The Cunning Little Vixen and The Makropoulos Case (although the last of these is more un ...[text shortened]... that they are not as immediately accessible. I\'m glad you enjoyed Madame Butterfly, in any case.
    My bad. I indeed always forget Janacek. I have been listening to Janacek more since you pointed him out to me. I feel terrible to have overlooked him so thoroughly. But look at whom we both overlooked:
    Ralph Vaughnn Williams!
    Hugh the Drover or Love in the Stocks (1910–20). Romantic ballad opera. Libretto: Harold Child
    Sir John in Love (1924–28), from which comes an arrangement by Ralph Greaves of Fantasia on "Greensleeves"
    The Poisoned Kiss (1927–29; revisions 1936–37 and 1956–57). Libretto: Evelyn Sharp (later amended by Ralph and Ursula Vaughan Williams)
    Riders to the Sea (1925–32), from the play by John Millington Synge
    The Pilgrim's Progress (1909–51), based on John Bunyan's allegory

    The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains (1921). Libretto: Ralph Vaughan Williams (from John Bunyan) (Later incorporated, save for the final section, into The Pilgrim's Progress) *watching football so I had to copy and paste from wiki, hence the greater detail. Our local library carries all these in vinyl so I had to use a friend's turntable.

    Although none of these are "standard repertoire" material they are quite lovely.
  12. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    22 Sep '13 19:20
    Is Messiaen's opera St. Francois d'Assise any good?
  13. 22 Sep '13 20:00
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Is it traditional to boo the Yankee at curtain call?

    My original question stemmed from a feeling that Puccini really seems to be about popular culture, and I could get how his shows were popular hits. I also thought that the advent of cinema and later, rock and roll, might have pinched off some of that appeal - leaving opera in a bit of a void.

    I will look into Janacek.
    It's certainly true that Puccini is one of the last opera composers who was working when opera was a form of definite mass appeal. Britten, for instance, was already aiming more at a kind of coterie audience. But I think you will find Janacek fairly accessible; his music is modern yet tuneful, and the way it relates to narrative is dramatically irreproachable.

    It's not uncommon these days for the villain to be booed at the curtain calls of various operas. Personally, I feel booing should be reserved for any singer who has given a really bad performance (although this is fairly rare - the person who most often deserves a boo is the set designer!).
  14. 22 Sep '13 22:12 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    My bad. I indeed always forget Janacek. I have been listening to Janacek more since you pointed him out to me. I feel terrible to have overlooked him so thoroughly. But look at whom we both overlooked:
    Ralph Vaughnn Williams!
    Ah, I'm glad you've been listening more to Janacek! Strange you came to him so late, when for me, he was practically how I discovered opera!

    I saw Vaughan Williams' Pilgrim's Progress staged a year ago by English National Opera. The music is exquisite, but it did feel rather undramatic. More like a cantata or oratorio than a true opera.
  15. 23 Sep '13 00:47
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Is Messiaen's opera St. Francois d'Assise any good?
    It is quite good, but rather difficult and inaccessible like everything Messiaien wrote. Same goes for Alban Berg's Lulu and Wozzeck. I think you would enjoy Poulenc's Dialogues des Caremilites. It is extraordinarilly dramatic and beautiful. The ending is quite gripping. I highly recommend Strauss' Rosenkavalier, Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, Britten's Billy Budd. Debussy's Peleas et Melisande is an incredible masterpiece. Stravinsky's Rakes Progress is quite a piece of music.