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Peter

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Reply with quote  #16 
I have now tried the Offenbach, but it didn't arouse much enthusiasm. Not that there was any fault in the performance, but I have had a down on his best-known work ever since I saw it, presented as a political satire on Margaret Thatcher, as just about everything that possibly could be was at the time (Rossini's Moses in Egypt was another opera I saw around then that was used for this purpose -- if I remember right Pharaoh was dressed up as her and publicly executed in the final act, which I thought in the worst possible taste). No doubt had the music held essential appeal for me it would have overcome the production, but it didn't and doesn't. One thing though that I have always liked from the opera is the song of Kleinzach, done very pleasantly here.

Verdi's music I have always loved very greatly, and I think I have seen just about everything he wrote from Macbeth on, even including the rarely-seen I Vespri Siciliani, which I thought so wonderful I went back to see it again the next night! His two final works, though, Otello and Falstaff, have never engaged my affection. I have seen them both several times, though once would certainly have sufficed me for Falstaff at least, and they just do not hold appeal for me. I don't doubt their status as masterpieces, and can only conclude that my musical ear and dramatic sensibilities are insufficiently refined to appreciate them as they deserve. I like nothing at all about Falstaff, but do at least with Otello really appreciate two pieces from it, the wonderful love duet at the opening, a concert performance of which is linked in my first post above, and of course the famous Willow Song, here delivered by the uniquely affecting voice of Maria Callas, though alas with static visuals only. I am aware that your chosen piece is even more famous and admired than the love duet, though perhaps not the Willow Song, but it has done nothing for me before and didn't now.

Sorry to seem so grumpy. I'll save the Rossini for later, and my response to that is sure to be warm. I have seen The Barber of Seville ever so many times, and every time it seems fresh and new. I am not the biggest fan of Rossini's music in general, but that opera is most certainly an exception.
Bill_McEnaney

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Reply with quote  #17 
Peter, I'm sorry Weber's Pie Jesu was unpleasant.  So hope you'll enjoy the Rossini arias I've posted.  Though you're not an Otello fan, you may enjoy Justino Diaz's fine singing and his great acting.

Since I'm a purist, I know what you mean about poor taste. Years ago, I felt angry when Peter Sellers (or  "Sellars?") produced a Don Giovanni that he set in Harlem, where the Don became a cocaine addict who stood on a sidewalk, wearing only his underpants.  For me, that production was even more damnable than the opera's main character.

I hate going to a foreign language opera sung in English because the "singing translations" are usually too, too inaccurate.  During La Traviata's drinking song, for example, a group sang "Come join us" instead of "Let's drink."  In an English version of The Magic Flute, the translator left out plenty of the story.  One German version of that opera even left out the "O Isis und Osiris" chorus.  Unfortunately, Zeffirelli even cut the Willow Song from the movie version of Otello that Diaz's Youtube video comes from.

 The Christian Broadcasting Network earned an angry letter from me when it aired a rock 'n roll version of Handel's Messiah to introduce Handel's masterpiece to young people who probably wouldn't hear it sung traditionally. The trouble was, even after they had heard the rock version, they probably wouldn't have recognized the traditional one.
Ethiomonarchist

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Reply with quote  #18 

I have seen some untraditional stagings of old works that I enjoyed.  Most notably the version of Shakespear's Richard III that was reset in the 1930's.  I thought it quite wonderfully done.  Baz Lurhman's version of Romeo and Juliette, with Leonardo De Caprio and Clare Danes set in the dramatic setting of Mexico City was very untraditional yet I found it strangely appealing...


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