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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: A Musical Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1251  Monday, 28 May 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 May 2001 14:03:55 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1236 A Musical Lear

[2]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Sat, 26 May 2001 05:08:01 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1236 A Musical Lear

[3]     From:   Andrew W. White <
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        Date:   Saturday, 26 May 2001 20:42:33 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1236 A Musical Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Friday, 25 May 2001 14:03:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1236 A Musical Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1236 A Musical Lear

>(And since when
>obody has written a half-way decent tragic musical

*West Side Story*?  Not great art, but possibly in the "half-way decent"
category?  And sort of Shakespearean, even.

>or a quarter-way
>decent comic opera.)

Any or all of Gilbert & Sullivan's operettas?

By the way, for you trivia buffs, Sir Arthur Sullivan had his first
success with incidental music he composed for *The Tempest*.  Later, he
also composed incidental music for *Merchant*, *Merry Wives*, *Henry
VIII* (!) and *Macbeth*.

Cheers,
Karen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Sat, 26 May 2001 05:08:01 +0100
Subject: 12.1236 A Musical Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1236 A Musical Lear

>Of course, it's disingenuous to call Rigoletto a musical, but this was
>the era before the disastrous split between 'serious' and 'popular'
>staged-music, when pirated versions of Verdi tunes would be on the
>street barrel organs the day after an opening night.

Whether Mozart was really pleased to hear songs from his operas and
"operettas"(?) whistled in the streets of Prague and Vienna we do not
know, but we may assume. I think it is only a late 20th century attitude
of "serious"  composers to distrust tunes that might become popular.
(Becoming "popular" does not correspond to the idea of a "misunderstood
genius". Becoming "popular" would mean that  - once successful -  a
composer could lose his/her status and subsequently his/her state
grants, which are only reserved for unpopular but highly esteemed
composers...)

It is a pity that Verdi did not compose a "Lear", but "Rigoletto" is not
"Lear" at all, it's Victor Hugo's "Le Roi s'amuse", and it was for
Verdi's Italy  - like "Un Ballo di Maschera" - politically much more
relevant and straightforward than any Shakespeare opera would have been.
Verdi had always taste in his choice of libretti, although he was not
always successful with his libretto writers. He would certainly have
seen--and made--a difference between "Lear" by Shakespeare and the
melodramatic "Le Roi s'amuse" by Victor Hugo (whom he had already
exploited successfully with "Ernani"!). If he had wanted to compose an
opera on Lear, he would have chosen "Lear" (He was going to compose
three Shakespeare  operas later anyway).

>And since when
>nobody has written a half-way decent tragic musical or a quarter-way
>decent comic opera.)

Since when? Tell me a year, and I give you a title.  I don't see why
musicals should be tragical, but some of them are - and they are not the
worst:
A) Half-way decent tragic musicals:
50ies: West Side Story;
60ies: Cabaret; Hair;
70ies: Jesus Christ Superstar; Rockabye Hamlet;
80ies: Phantom of the Opera; Chess;
90ies: Stephen Sondheim's "Passion"; "Les Miserables" (the original
script based on a work by the same guy who was responsible for Verdi's
"Rigoletto"); Romeo et Juliette; etc.

B) "Quarter-way decent comic operas":
I don't know why you think that operas have to be comical, and I don't
know what you mean by "decent" --with a more liberal idea of music  [and
a more liberal distinction between musical and opera] all those
"musicals" that are not "tragic" would fit in here anyway-- but here we
go with "serious" stuff:
50ies: Liebermann, "Penelope"; Vittorio Giannini: "The Taming of the
Shrew"; Frank Martin: "The Tempest"; Nino Rota: "Lo Scoiattolo in
Gamba"; Heinrich Sutermeister: "Titus Feuerfuchs", "Seraphine",
60ies:  , Dominick Argento: "Christopher Sly"; Benjamin Britten:
"Midsummer Night's Dream"; Nino Rota: "Aladino..", Sutermeister: "Der
Geist von Canterville",
70ies: John Eaton: "The Lion and Androcles"; G. C. Menotti: "The Egg";
Nino Rota "Le Moli

 

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