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What are the "most beautiful five minutes in opera"?


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#16 Hans

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 08:01 AM

Peggy, I think that is what appeals to me about that aria. The singer can't just rely on a pretty voice and nice technique. She has to be committed to the performance.

#17 bart

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 09:05 AM

Hans, your mentiion of Popp made me curious, since I had a recording of her singing ... Queen of the Night. I checked YouTube. You are right about her Pamina.

Peggy, I agree that this aria is a different kind of "beautifull" from the other arias mentioned so far.
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

:unsure: I wonder how many wonderful Paminas have also been wonderful Queens of the Night.

#18 bart

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 09:52 AM

While checking Magic Flutes on YouTube, I also came across the final trio from Rosenkavalier. This is from the movie, released in the early 60s, with Schwartzkopf, Sena Jurinac, and Annaliese Rothenberger. I remember seeing this in Cambridge, Mass., when it was first released. And here it is! Good old YouTube! :unsure:



#19 Helene

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 10:27 AM

But don't forget dirac's request:

With explanations, please. :unsure:

Okay, I'll give it a shot. (Otello Act I Love Duet)

Dramatically, it was Boito's stroke of genius to condense Act I of the play into a narrative between the protagonists. Although a love duet, It is an intelligent conversation between adults. It ends with one of more ravishing images in opera ("Venice is resplendant"), with music to match.

#20 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 11:54 AM

("Venice is resplendant")

Venus, no?

I agree that it's a brilliant condensation. Makes me wonder why Shakespeare bothered with an entire act. Opening with the storm is so much more dramatic.

#21 bart

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 12:56 PM

OTELLO
Vien. . .Venere splende.

(s'avviano abbracciati verso il castello)


Come . . . Venus is shining.

(Embracing, they go toward the castle.)



#22 richard53dog

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:14 PM

("Venice is resplendant")

Venus, no?

I agree that it's a brilliant condensation. Makes me wonder why Shakespeare bothered with an entire act. Opening with the storm is so much more dramatic.



Yes, "Venere splende" means "Venus is shining", a romanticism.


In his opening Venetian act, I think Shakespeare was aiming to stress Othello's different (and, I suppose, inferior background) The idea is that Desdemona is making a non traditional marriage and this is supposed to add to Othello's feelings of inferiority which the later plot elements add to.
Venice was simply not his world however much a name he had made for himself .Even Cyprus is a low rent district compared to Venice.

All this is mirrored a bit in the opera's Act 3 , scene 2 the big court scene where Otello is disgraced before the Venetian ambassador.
His humiliation is just about complete.

But operas can't support the amount of text that plays can and I think it was a brilliant idea for Boito to simply eliminate the first act. By the late
19th century the idea of a Moor marrying a European noblewoman had plenty of connotations of it's own.

And the opening of Otello is stunning with the storm music.


edited to add: Oops, posted at the same time as Bart. Didn't mean to beat the Venere splende to death!

#23 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:40 PM

In his opening Venetian act, I think Shakespeare was aiming to stress Othello's different (and, I suppose, inferior background) The idea is that Desdemona is making a non traditional marriage and this is supposed to add to Othello's feelings of inferiority which the later plot elements add to.
Venice was simply not his world however much a name he had made for himself .Even Cyprus is a low rent district compared to Venice.

Oh, certainly. This continues into act 2 prior to Othello's arrival, where it's pretty obvious that he would never engage in the sort of witty banter that goes on between Desdemona and Iago. There are lots subtleties lost in the opera. I'm sorry to lose Emilia's cynicism, too, but these elements aren't terribly operatic, so Boito was completely right to drop them and pare the story down to its violent emotions. These, I think, register more powerfully in the opera than they do in the play. Not to mention the fact that "Ah, sangue, sangue, sangue!" sounds so much better than "O, blood, blood, blood!", especially with cymbals crashing in the background.

#24 dirac

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 07:04 PM

But don't forget dirac's request:

With explanations, please. :wink:

Okay, I'll give it a shot. (Otello Act I Love Duet)

Dramatically, it was Boito's stroke of genius to condense Act I of the play into a narrative between the protagonists. Although a love duet, It is an intelligent conversation between adults. It ends with one of more ravishing images in opera ("Venice is resplendant"), with music to match.


I could never decide on just one 'beautiful five minutes' but I agree fully with Helene. This duet ravishes me every time.

#25 Helene

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 09:28 PM

I apologize -- it is Venus, not Venice. Old age.

I loved seeing the opening of "Otello" at the Met, with the orchestra pit completely dark, except for the light at the end of the conductor's baton.

#26 SanderO

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 06:39 AM

This is one of those nutty threads which is fun but impossible to answer and reminds me of the threads about the most beautiful ballerina or handsome dansuer. As I stated in one of those threads there are too many extremely beautiful dancers. Their beauty is not only their form, face, musculature and so forth, but how they move on stage. The top ballerinas are all beautiful, though admittedly some have qualities which appeal to some and not others. At the ballet I am almost always in awe of how stunning the dansers are.

In opera, there are also many gorgeous moments and I am not sure if this question refers to performances or recordings. However, not all opera moments are beautiful such as the mad scenes. I won't answer this question but suffice it to say that Maria Callas never ceases to amaze me as I listen to her many recordings. I only wish I could have seen her perform. She's given me many beautiful hours!

#27 bart

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 06:47 AM

In opera, there are also many gorgeous moments and I am not sure if this question refers to performances or recordings.

My original curiosity had to do more with the music itself, but -- clearly -- everyone experiences this music through the medium of performance. Live or recorded? The music in general or only one particular performance? Your choice. Even though one's answer might, and probably will, change over time. :wink: :)

#28 papeetepatrick

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 07:08 AM

My original curiosity had to do more with the music itself, but -- clearly -- everyone experiences this music through the medium of performance. Live or recorded? The music in general or only one particular performance? Your choice. Even though one's answer might, and probably will, change over time. :wink: :)


The music itself in the Wagner I listed, although I'm going to prefer some Sentas and some Parsifals (all important roles) to others. In the case of 'Boheme' first act, I want a sterling performance, but won't miss that the music is beautiful anyway--as in 'Marriage of Figaro', incidentally, which is the kind of thing less professional companies can do well enough, so that you don't demand perfection in the same sense. although you always aurally prefer the best. Wagner, forget it, it can't be done by anything but consummate professionals and be worth listening to; it's demanging enough as it it. 'Sempre libera' and other very technically difficult soprano arias the same for me. Yes, I'd prefer Flagstad to anybody else i have heard sing Wagner, though, even though they've been in person and she's only on recordings. And ditto Callas, on the early records. The production you can't experience so much on either recordings or even DVD's from Bayreuth all that much (although to a certain degree, as some of the Rings from there), but the music 'having to be live' doesn't really hold true so much because, even though many more dimensiona are there in live performance, all of us have grown up with recorded music, and the 'reproduced forms' are accepted after awhile. You have the classis Walter Benjamin text 'the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', which is very anti-film, and it had been even more so in earlier days. All these new forms have become accepted, but as for the music itself, you are hearing a real performance, even if it was performed in another time and place. I think this is to some degree true of dance too, but maybe less so, but those who attend very frequently don't usually agree, accept for defintiely valuing that we do, at least, have documents of Sizova/Sovoviev or Martha Graham doing a few of her own pieces. Hans mentioned Kiri, another of my favourites. I heard her several times in person, and when the voice was at its most gorgeous, I loved it either way--she was close to perfect a lot of the time, as well as being a gorgeous woman.

I would add, though, that Wagner, in particular, is infinitely more effective in live performance. I can watch the old Zeffirelli movie of 'Boheme' and be totally enchanted, just as much as in an opera house.

#29 Drew

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 08:57 AM

Off topic, but...

You have the classis Walter Benjamin text 'the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', which is very anti-film


I don't think it's often read that way--quite the contrary in my experience--though it's characteristic of Benjamin that he can plausibly be read in very different ways.

To return to topic: when I saw the thread title I immediately thought it might be a thread on the Der Rosenkavalier trio! In the meanwhile it has sent me to youtube several times...

#30 Quiggin

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 09:14 AM

I don't think it's often read that way--quite the contrary in my experience--though it's characteristic of Benjamin that he can plausibly be read in very different ways.


It is difficult with that essay -- I've never quite figured it out. But it was addressed to how the "aura" is missing in photography, in duplication and mass dissemination. Benjamin seems rather melancholy about it. A good topic perhaps -- I think Patrick's point that more is lost in reproduction of music is true -- part of its very soul. In the mechanical reproduction of ballet the mundane and and extraneous details are "noticed" and raised to the level of the good stuff. Again it's another topic.


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