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Culture Forum

  1. 11 Jul '13 23:21
    Just came back from La Rondine relayed live to Trafalgar Square, where the public can enjoy the opera for free. I always enjoy Puccini although I don't think this is one of his great operas, and the 1920s setting was rather lurid. Wonderful aria in the first act, not sure what it's called – it's when Prunier sits and the piano and sings his song and then Magda creates the ending to it that he couldn't quite imagine. Act II was also good, but I found Act III a bit tedious, because I couldn't bring myself to care for Magda and Ruggero and their predicament. At least it was short! Also there was quite a lot of cigarette smoke during that final act and a strange anti-social couple near me laughing hysterically at who-knows-what during the singing.

    The crowd were very young, I'd say mostly in their 20s and even teens where I was sitting (near the front). Not typical operagoers most of them, though I noticed a few young-at-heart grey-haired people and a few thirtysomethings like me.

    I'll be going to Tosca next week with a friend or friends which will, I'm sure, be a fantastic experience. Haven't decided which screen, but maybe Canary Wharf. I saw Tosca in the opera house a couple of years ago (may have been ENO at the Coliseum) and found it so arrestingly powerful. Looking forward to showing my university friend the power of opera.

    Anyone else been to anything similar? I'd love to hear your reports.
  2. 12 Jul '13 03:26
    Every time this happens locally it is during a performance I am actually at, so I have been unable to enjoy the experience of watching great opera at a crowded public setting. Locally it is simulcast to Cowboys Stadium. So far they have done Mozart's Magic Flute and and Turandot. I missed Carmen on 7-9-13 at Klyde Warren Park because it was ungodly hot and found out too late as they did little to no publicity. I have enjoyed an occasional cinema broadcast from The Met at local theaters. Wagner's Ring live from The Met in 1990 was awesome and broadcast on TV. That hooked me on Wagner.
  3. 12 Jul '13 11:53
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Every time this happens locally it is during a performance I am actually at, so I have been unable to enjoy the experience of watching great opera at a crowded public setting. Locally it is simulcast to Cowboys Stadium. So far they have done Mozart's Magic Flute and and Turandot. I missed Carmen on 7-9-13 at Klyde Warren Park because it was ungodly hot ...[text shortened]... er's Ring live from The Met in 1990 was awesome and broadcast on TV. That hooked me on Wagner.
    Hmm, I wonder what (if any) effect a stadium setting has on the sound? Opera must be quite popular in Dallas to be relayed to a football stadium, I would think. Good city to live in! I enjoyed the more laid back atmosphere a lot. It doesn't beat the opera house, but it's a nice way to spend the evening. One odd thing was that I didn't hear a single cough. Maybe the other extraneous noise, being at a higher level than in the Opera house, helped me filter them out, or perhaps there's a psychological reason why people cough at concerts held indoors.
  4. 12 Jul '13 13:26
    Originally posted by NoEarthlyReason
    Hmm, I wonder what (if any) effect a stadium setting has on the sound? Opera must be quite popular in Dallas to be relayed to a football stadium, I would think. Good city to live in! I enjoyed the more laid back atmosphere a lot. It doesn't beat the opera house, but it's a nice way to spend the evening. One odd thing was that I didn't hear a single c ...[text shortened]... em out, or perhaps there's a psychological reason why people cough at concerts held indoors.
    Closed environments more prone to cause coughing than open air ones. The first simulcast in Dallas attracted only 25K people despite the free tickets. I am unsure how many showed up at the park for Carmen. Alas opera is not nearly as popular in Dallas as it is in NYC. You should see their lineup of operas and getting tickets is very hard because everyone who can't get Broadway tickets tries catching an opera it seems. Dallas cut their season from five to four to three operas. Always in financial hot water. Their own fault. Wit so much great opera in the repertoire they opted to insert Argento's Aspern Papers into the already meager season. Argento is competent, but mediocre, his opera is not awful, but not anywhere near great either. What with operas galore awaiting exploration by the DO I cannot fathom why management would opt for Argento's instead of a work by Cilea, or a nice work of high drama like Dialogues of the Carmelites or even go as far back as Pergolesi's Serva Padrona. So much great opera left untouched and schlock gets staged instead!
  5. 12 Jul '13 13:50
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Closed environments more prone to cause coughing than open air ones. The first simulcast in Dallas attracted only 25K people despite the free tickets. I am unsure how many showed up at the park for Carmen. Alas opera is not nearly as popular in Dallas as it is in NYC. You should see their lineup of operas and getting tickets is very hard because everyon ...[text shortened]... rgolesi's Serva Padrona. So much great opera left untouched and schlock gets staged instead!
    Sorry to hear about the state of DO, although 25K sounds like a huge number for the free simulcast to my ears at least. I'd be surprised if there were many more than that yesterday across all the 20+ screens spread out across the whole country.

    NYC is a city of high culture and one of the world's most important cities, so I guess it's only natural opera would be popular there. How many opera houses are there in NYC? I think in London there are just two, although they are both excellent. Of course I haven't been to any other opera houses in the world or the UK, so can't really make comparisons. I was just talking to my father and he guessed that between them they stage 35 operas per year (obviously not all new productions, and often ENO, who sing everything in English, put on operas that the RoH are also staging in the same season).

    Whatever the number of operas, I am in awe of the musical and acting talent of the soloists and choruses, and the musicianship of the conductors and orchestras. They represent my 'state of being' goal in life, if I can overcome my life circumstances, past mistakes and a certain natural tendency towards laziness.
  6. 12 Jul '13 15:28
    Originally posted by NoEarthlyReason
    Sorry to hear about the state of DO, although 25K sounds like a huge number for the free simulcast to my ears at least. I'd be surprised if there were many more than that yesterday across all the 20+ screens spread out across the whole country.

    NYC is a city of high culture and one of the world's most important cities, so I guess it's only natural ...[text shortened]... ome my life circumstances, past mistakes and a certain natural tendency towards laziness.
    The first simulcast was the better attended one. Cowboy Stadium has the world's largest video screen. I had multiple tickets and could not give them away! By comparison the local free blue grass festival draws a sizeable crowd.

    Don't knock yourself too hard. Few have the drive/stamina to become world class artists. I , like you, admire the enormous effort and lovingly done work it takes to stage an opera. Art in general involves much hardship. My youngest attends a dedicated arts high school next to the opera house in the visual arts cluster. He recently sold a work of art for the first time. He had no idea, nor did I as to how to price the work, a woodcut print. He spent all told 70+ hours creating the woodcut, a project for the local center for exploited women. A second print was put on display where a former mentor of Norah Jones(school alumnus) saw the woodcut of the latter in a peaceful look with double wavy keyboards as angel wings. He sold it for $325.

    NYC is a great place and has three opera houses. The smallest is by far the most unusual in that they concentrate on "impossible" to stage operas such as Mozart's Sogno di Scipione", impossible because it takes place in a dreamlike trance. Gotham City Opera specializes in obscure opera. http://www.gothamchamberopera.org/company/
  7. Subscriber Kewpie
    since 1-Feb-07
    18 Jul '13 09:01
    Melbourne, with a population of 4 million, does an annual series of free concerts in an outdoor performance place, under the terms of the Myer bequest. That's the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, similar repertoire to what they do in the Concert Hall. On top of that the same Myer Music Bowl is used for opera performances whenever they can get the Australian Opera to oblige. Used to be annual when Melbourne had its own Opera company but it's been swallowed up by AO (based in Sydney) and the Melbourne performances have almost disappeared.
  8. 18 Jul '13 11:51
    Originally posted by Kewpie
    Melbourne, with a population of 4 million, does an annual series of free concerts in an outdoor performance place, under the terms of the Myer bequest. That's the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, similar repertoire to what they do in the Concert Hall. On top of that the same Myer Music Bowl is used for opera performances whenever they can get the Australian Op ...[text shortened]... n swallowed up by AO (based in Sydney) and the Melbourne performances have almost disappeared.
    That's too bad. At least we have multiple opera companies, some better than others and large cities have multiple ones like NYC. We also have all sorts of free music of various kinds. Back in the day I could never get in line on time for tickets to various great acts such as REO Speedwagon, but saw them for free at Liberty Fest 2010 in nearby Farmers Branch. Last year it was Styx, but I couldn't go. This year they went country on me, but I still enjoyed it. We also have various student festivals by the local conservatory and they usually stage opera numbers from various operas.
  9. 19 Jul '13 06:51
    Originally posted by NoEarthlyReason
    Just came back from La Rondine relayed live to Trafalgar Square, where the public can enjoy the opera for free. I always enjoy Puccini although I don't think this is one of his great operas, and the 1920s setting was rather lurid. Wonderful aria in the first act, not sure what it's called – it's when Prunier sits and the piano and sings his song and ...[text shortened]... ower of opera.

    Anyone else been to anything similar? I'd love to hear your reports.
    I saw La Rondine in the Royal Opera House on Wednesday. It was not free, but it was a bargain anyway since I got mysteriously upgraded from my cheap seat in the amphitheatre to a luxury seat in the stalls! I loved the Art Nouveau sets, but the work is a bit weak compared to others by Puccini (which explains why it's not often staged) - I think it only really catches fire in Act 2, where the quartet is beautiful, and was dramatically done.

    I'll have seen a different cast from you, presumably, since I had Ermonela Jaho as Magda and Attala Ayan as Ruggero; this was probably the reason for my upgrade, as most people wanted to see Gheorghiu and Castronovo; about whom, as it turned out, the critics were not kind.
  10. 19 Jul '13 12:40
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    I saw La Rondine in the Royal Opera House on Wednesday. It was not free, but it was a bargain anyway since I got mysteriously upgraded from my cheap seat in the amphitheatre to a luxury seat in the stalls! I loved the Art Nouveau sets, but the work is a bit weak compared to others by Puccini (which explains why it's not often staged) - I think it only real ...[text shortened]... nted to see Gheorghiu and Castronovo; about whom, as it turned out, the critics were not kind.
    La Rondine works much better as a triptych instead of a solo opera. When accompanied by the companion pieces Gianni Schicci and Suor Angelica it seems to make more sense and gives a broader take on Puccini's greatness, although I do agree even of these three La Rondine is the weakest.
  11. 19 Jul '13 13:43
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    La Rondine works much better as a triptych instead of a solo opera. When accompanied by the companion pieces Gianni Schicci and Suor Angelica it seems to make more sense and gives a broader take on Puccini's greatness, although I do agree even of these three La Rondine is the weakest.
    I fear that the opera you are talking about is Il Tabarro, the first of Il Trittico, which does indeed belong with its companion pieces! La Rondine is a separate, three-act opera, premiered a year earlier (in Monte Carlo).
  12. 19 Jul '13 14:43
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    I fear that the opera you are talking about is Il Tabarro, the first of Il Trittico, which does indeed belong with its companion pieces! La Rondine is a separate, three-act opera, premiered a year earlier (in Monte Carlo).
    Oops! You are absolutely correct! Mea culpa and self flagellation for such a gross oversight from me the most ardent of Puccini fans! Thanks for correcting me! I will now go hide in the corner! LOL
  13. 23 Jul '13 13:59
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Oops! You are absolutely correct! Mea culpa and self flagellation for such a gross oversight from me the most ardent of Puccini fans! Thanks for correcting me! I will now go hide in the corner! LOL
    I didn't get to go and see Tosca in the end, sadly. I got bogged down with sorting out my upcoming Canadian holiday and some work I was doing for the friend I had planned to go with to Tosca.

    A great shame, that, as it was the final big-screen opera of the season (probably year). However, the Proms concerts are now on so we'll go to at least one of those. I watched the TV broadcast of Mahler's 5th at the Proms yesterday which was wonderful. I did find I could do with increasing my attention span, however – I'm nowhere near ADHD levels, obviously, but I did lose my focus in the music as it got closer to the end, much to my chagrin because I haven't heard the Adagietto a great deal. In a concert hall it wouldn't have been a problem unless I was very tired.

    I'm not sure what the best way to train one's attention span might be, actually. I feel that physical fitness and general health must be part of it, and perhaps meditation/praying and so on would be helpful. I feel that I have increased it somewhat in recent years by making the decision to only watch the most well-received films (many of which are much longer than the recent typical length of 1.5-2 hours), and rediscovering novels has also been helpful. There's something I find difficult to define about the benefits of having an increased attention span: some sort of feeling of assuredness and safety, as if my brain is enjoying being enveloped in something soft and nourishing; a feeling of distance from, perspective on, and control over everyday matters.