Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Opera Talk

Tel Aviv Opera
Originally uploaded by savtadotty.
I am an opera-lover, but not much of an opera-goer these days: the New Israel Opera is still getting itself established, and it's a gamble to go. Sometimes the productions and voices are fabulous, sometimes terrible. Tickets are relatively expensive. This season, Franco Zeffirelli directed a well-reviewed new production of "I Pagliacci." I attended a pre-opera lecture/panel where Maestro Zeffirelli (he was wearing a scarf that he swirled like a cape) said he didn't like the traditional programming of Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana together, because it was like having risotto and pasta at the same meal.

Last night I went to hear/see "Wozzeck" for the first time. I had heard excerpts in my younger days and concluded that it was not for me: no singable tunes, in fact no recognizable melodies at all. Then I heard some parts of "Wozzeck" on the radio last week (local classical music station), and was mesmerized. I jumped at the chance to go with a friend. I even brought along my parents' libretto, which they had bought for $.75 at a New York Metropolitan Opera performance in 1952, although there were super-titles in both Hebrew and English. The opera was composed by Alban Berg in 1922; Berg was a student of Arnold Schoenberg.

The plot is an amalgam of German philosophy and Weimar foreboding: a combination of "Jerry Springer - The Opera" and "Othello." A jealous lover, berated by various upper-class stick-figures for being immoral, is betrayed by his mistress, stabs her and himself, but first they sing about it all for 2 hours, and their illegimate child is just about to find out what happened to his mommy when the curtain falls. The music sounds like Kurt Weill collaborated with Gustave Mahler while they were both very, very stoned. It was the first time I found twelve-tone music not only tolerable, but absolutely RIGHT. And the whole opera was performed without intermission.

"Wozzeck" rules!

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