A Month of Opera in Review

(cover image by Ian Baldwin)

I started this (last) month’s series by talking about how difficult it was for me to appreciate and discover opera the way I listen to music (headphones, no visuals, no subtitles, etc.), but I discovered that it just takes a bit more time.

You can view the series from the ‘20th Century Opera‘ link under Series in the menu above.

While I’ll be honest and say I didn’t see whole performances (either live or recorded) of a few of the works in the series, I did watch most of most of them, and had to set aside a little time to go watch The Rake’s Progress because I was so unfamiliar with it. Thankfully, the performing arts library had a copy, and it’s obviously much easier to appreciate when you can actually see it as it’s meant to be seen.

I don’t have a whole lot to say here that I haven’t said before. The operas included in this little set are maybe not what most people think of as typical. Again, no powdered wigs here (we even got a muscle shirt from Tom Rakewell!). They’re not just ‘pretty’ works, or comedy or retellings of familiar stories. As we have seen, they can convey all kinds tragedy, literal, psychological, metaphysical, etc. and very effectively, in many different ways.

Sitting at a packed house for the second staging of our NSO’s Il Trittico, I did get to thinking about how anticipated an event their annual opera production is. After all, they’re not an opera company; we don’t have one here. So from an artistic standpoint, with an eager audience, and from a marketing/financial standpoint, with a more conservative audience than, say, The Met, I think it may be an enormous challenge to stage something like The Rake’s Progress, or Pelleas, to say nothing of Wozzeck or Shostakovich’s Nose.

They’re powerful yet particularly peculiar works. Even Debussy’s lone contribution to the form isn’t nearly as accessible in nature as Puccini’s triptych of single-act operas. That was a real treat. But enough of that for now.

might…. might think of making July the annual opera month, doing at least one or two works here and there. The takeaway from this month is that it’s not as inaccessible (without live performances) as I thought. Just takes a bit more time. So maybe, maybe you’ll be seeing an opera slip in here and there in our running list of pieces, once I decide on one and have time enough to get familiar with it. That’d be nice, I think.

But actually, although I slightly regret not being able to work it into the (already very rigidly calculated) schedule, there is one more little morsel of summer opera coming up in the next few hours, so stay tuned for a review of something rather interesting, I hope, and we’ll see you on the weekend with something entirely new! Thank you for reading.


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