Blogger, realist, clarifier, if there is such a term. Truth teller, who's not afraid to admit I'm wrong. Hellacious, renegade violist and "computer whisperer"; was once accused of practicing the Dark Arts with systems.
I'm tougher than most and survived things that would have killed most women. I still love life. I was homeless, now I'm not. Still in the 'hood, though. Nebraska Avenue, 33605. The stories are priceless and endless.
THIS IS A REPOST FROM 3/27/2013 AND I TRULY ENJOYED WRITING THIS! I HOPE YOU ENJOY READING IT AND LEARN A BIT ABOUT OPERA AND SOME CRAZY HISTORY ALONG THE WAY! :D Young
Person's Guide to the OPERA
persons today have lost sight of the fact that opera used to be the
19thcentury's version of “Jersey Shore.”
Well, kind of. Persons in operas did all sorts of outlandish things
that just were not done in polite company. Actually, this analogy
doesn't play out well, because all of the shit that goes on in
“Jersey Shore” pretty much goes on in real life. Never mind.
opera was THE form of entertainment back in the days before
television and iPods and all of that, so composers and librettists
were hell-bent on coming up with some pretty outrageous stuff to keep
the hoi-polloi amused. In Italy, Puccini ruled and he wrote some
beautiful stuff. Between Puccini and Guiseppe Verdi, Italian opera
was well represented.
Germans on the other hand, had a few problems. One of them was the
Kaiser. Kaiser Wilhelm was a bit odd. He, uh decided, much like
Stalin did in Russia several decades later, that he would decide what
was acceptable for German audiences. Never mind that the Germans had
been raised on the Aesir and Ragnarok and were already of a Berserker
mentality. There was a problem with his favorite composer, who later
became Hitler's favorite composer. Herr Richard Strauss lived long
enough to achieve this dubious distinction, but Strauss really didn't
give a fig what Wilhelm, or Hitler or Göebbels thought and went on
to compose operas that were, ah, indeed in questionable taste.
other is that for sheer crazy, German opera just can't be beat.
Before Richard Strauss, we had Richard Wagner, whose magnum opus is
the “Ring Cycle,” 20 hours of mayhem. Incest, death, destruction,
war, 20 questions with dragons, trolls, witches, stupid but good
looking heroes, Brünhilde, Rheinmaidens, Välkyrie, Valhalla, topped
off by Götterdammerüng. A very happy batch of operas indeed, called
"Das Ringen der Nibelungen," or "The Ring Cycle."
I'll let Anna Russell describe it for us.
set the stage for Richard Strauss who thought wholesome stuff like
Salome, during Kaiser Wilhelm's reign, prior to WW I - and who was a
bit of a stuffed shirt about morals in public, but behind closed
doors? One of his ministers would drop dead during some bacchanal or
other while wearing a pink tutu - would be perfect for operatic
treatment. Herr Strauss was an awesome composer, but he had not clue
one about anything socio-political during his long life. He thought
it was a swell idea to collaborate with Stefan Zweig as his
librettist during his stint as Reichsminister of musik for the Third
Reich under Josef Goebbels. Herr Zweig was Jewish and living in
London. Herr Goebbels was pissed about it and Strauss was lucky not
to get a one-way ticket to Dachau.
during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm, who was a notorious
blue-stocking, Strauss thought it would be a hella idea to do an
operatic treatment of “Salome.” D'you remember this story?
Antipas marries Herodias so he can get at her daughter Salome. John
the Baptist is locked up in Antipas' prison under the palace. Salome
gets a gander at John, as he squabbles over theology with some
pharisees and goes all googly-eyed over him, but John spurns her for
the harlot-in-training that she is. Antipas wants to see Salome
dance, but she's all like, “Ewwww.” Herodias is rather annoyed at
both Antipas and John, spiteful bitch that Herodias is, and she tells
Salome to dance for Antipas, because Antipas will give her whatever
Salome asks for, and she should ask for John's head.
is sick and tired of Antipas mooning over both Salome and John the
Baptist. Antipas is afraid of John, as John is a man of God and keeps
saying all this scary stuff from his cistern. So, Salome says, “Okay,
A, I'll hip-hop for ya” and does the “Dance of the 7 Veils.”
is a more modern treatment, but the staging is so well-done, I chose
done, she asks for the head of John the Baptist and the evil deed is
done. Next comes perhaps the most unbelievably hellish passage in
music imaginable, as a huge hand rises out of the cistern bearing the
head of John the Baptist. (Unfortunately, this is a bad edit, and you get part of her love/death song to Jokkanaan).
is horrified, but the nightmare is not yet ended. Salome proceeds to
roll around on stage with the severed head of John the Baptist and
sings the most glorious song of love that is also horrifying, but
Antipas has her put to death by the Roman guards. Curtain falls.
stuff! Seriously, this is music I grew up listening to and played, so
even though my ears are by no means jaded, one can see why I am
pretty tolerant of today's Rammstein-like groups and less than
thrilled with precious music like Mozart. I love Haydn. Haydn took
chances and is wonderful. Enough digression.
went ahead and debuted this opera without the Kaiser's approval. The
Kaiser's favorite minister later died wearing a pink tutu at some
function or another. So much for propriety; the Kaiser had a really
bad year; the Archduke Ferdinand of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was
assassinated shortly thereafter, and the Kaiser's year was about to
get REALLY bad.
played in Opera Tampa for 12 seasons, so I have plenty of rich
material to draw from. We did mostly Italian opera. Maestro Coppola
(the same family that produced Francis and Nic Cage) summed it up
this way: “Anyone can play a Goddamned German opera. It's just 1,
2, 3, 4. In Italian opera there are so many rubatos and tempi changes
it requires so much artistry. You are all here because you were
hand-picked. Be proud.” Tyrant. I miss it. Maestro wasn't
necessarily wrong, although in his waltzes, Richard Strauss affords
lots of rubatos in the Viennese style. You may have picked that out
in the "7 Veils." For the record, I LOVE playing Richard
Strauss; supremely challenging and he pushes orchestras to the
limits. In "Ein Heldenleben," (A Hero's Life" with him
as the hero) during it's debut, one of the first violinists
complained to him that a certain passage is unplayable. He casually
looked over the score and said, "Don't worry, it's unplayable in
the flutes, too." It is in the violas as well. Let's end this
with one of the funniest Bugs Bunny cartoons ever.
one of the best Wagner treatments I've ever seen. I played with the Warner Brothers Orchestra, after jumping ship from the Disney folks up in Detroit, many years ago. Man, did you have to play your ass off, but it was a HELL of a lot more fun!
Itinerant violist and computer trouble-shooter for more years than I care to admit. While no longer homeless, still crazy, but with Labels *sigh* a bus-riding Asperger, bipolar-ridden, PD or non-PD, carbon life-form, providing fodder for Medical community. Not even kidding. Still ridiculous.
Acquiring a much richer and fuller experience and finding deeper meaning in day to day life, than I ever learned in a classroom, concert hall, or computer center. I will never believe that things just occur randomly, just monumentally disordered.