Are opera plot synopses necessary?
Posted 07 December 2002 - 03:35 PM
I still hate reading them, though. And I'm even less fond of reading opera synopses, especially now that English supertitles, surtitles, or seatback titles make it easy to follow the action as it unfolds. Why is it necessary to know in advance what's going to happen? If one is a regular operagoer, one knows what's coming, but it shouldn't be necessary for a first-time viewer to know. I'm reminded of what Toots Shor (an early-American historical figure) supposedly said when someone took him to Hamlet, "I'll bet I'm the only one here who doesn't know how this thing comes out." In my opinion, that's an enviable position to be in.
To the best of my knowledge, Broadway and off-Broadway theaters still don't print plot synopses of their shows -- not even of Shakespeare or the Greeks. In this connection, I'm curious about the current Metropolitan Opera production of "A View from the Bridge." I'm sure there was no plot synopsis in the Playbill for the original Arthur Miller play -- but I'm willing to bet the Met program for the William Bolcom opera has one. I'm also curious whether Baz Luhrmann's "La Boheme" has a plot summary in the Playbill.
I don't mind printed background notes on an opera or ballet, and I usually look forward to reading them after I get home. But when I'm at the theater, I'm eager to go on with the show.
Posted 07 December 2002 - 03:40 PM
Posted 09 December 2002 - 10:43 AM
Posted 09 December 2002 - 04:29 PM
Posted 09 December 2002 - 07:19 PM
I used to violently object to projected text in opera, now I am just used to it and it doesn't bother me at all. I am getting more accepting as I get older, I guess.....
I'm also curious whether Baz Luhrmann's "La Boheme" has a plot summary in the Playbill.
It does. Also the projected text.
Posted 10 December 2002 - 05:52 PM
I like program notes. Often the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. I also usually guage how well I like something by the amount of the program I have read. If I've read the entire thing, I didn't like (I was more interested in the program than the performance. If I read none of, it means I loved the performance (couldn't keep my eyes off the stage, therefore didn't read the notes). Simplistic, but accurate.
Posted 10 December 2002 - 06:10 PM
I admit they help more than they hurt. The effect can be a little jarring in comedies, though, because people are reading the laugh lines and the yocks start coming too soon or too slowly.
Posted 11 December 2002 - 07:05 PM
By contrast, the supertitles at the New York City Opera are in white type against a black background at the top of the stage. Maybe it's me, but when the stage is brightly lit, I have to strain to see them. I agree they are especially distracting in comedies. At NYCO's Gianni Schicchi earlier this year, the audience laughter totally destroyed Lauretta's aria "O Mio Babbino Caro." On the whole, though, I think the titles have made a big difference for the better.
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