Well, the weekend’s finally arrived. Tomorrow night we go to see this production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore. While I am new to opera, I have, over recent years, found that I am increasingly receptive to the form.
I already bought the music online and am listening to it. It meets my expectations, to say the least. I’m eagerly anticipating tomorrow night, when we’ll see and hear it performed live. Those of you who are more experienced with opera generally, or this opera particularly, or with the singers listed for this production specifically, can you give me any pointers? Any particular things I should watch and listen for?
My best advice would be to read the synopsis beforehand (handily, there’s one on the page you linked to). It’s like seeing a Shakespeare play for the first time - it’s possible to follow the plot straight off, but you certainly wouldn’t get the subtleties and nuances. That page also mentions that they use ‘supertitles’ - subtitles, but on a display up above the stage. It sounds like this would be distracting, or confusing, but in fact they’re very very helpful, particular for newbies
Oh, on rereading your post, you’re already listening to it… :smack: Anyway, my comments still kind-of apply
My trouble with it, is that, having been both an actor and a musician, I fing most examples to be a poor marriage of the two forms. It is very much a musical style that happens to require sets and costumes, as opposed to a theatrical style saturated by music.
Most operas I have encountered have numerous passages where the composer is working through some orchestral theme or another, and while, compositionally, it can be interesting to see where he takes it, it is maddening from a theatrical point of view, because very often the indicated stage directions are nowhere near sufficient to fill the time, leaving the on-stage performers standing there with absolutely nothing to do (or worse yet, doing whatever the desperate stage director came up with for them), often for minutes at a time.
Verdi is late in the classic opera world, and I am not at all familiar with his works, so I can’t say whether he is immune from such an accusation or not.
But if you find yourself at a loss as to what the singers are supposed to be doing at a particular moment, that is because you are supposed to be listening to the orchestra.
Continuing the mini-hijack, maybe you’re listening to the wrong operas, scotandrsn? In Rossini, Verdi or Mozart, I could understand the objection about lack of integration of forms. But in Monteverdi, Wagner or Britten, I find this much harder to accept.
I love Opera. love love love love luuuuuuurrrvvve it. One thing to remember is that, even at the best, they are either soap operas or cartoons. And Verdi was very good at soap operas. You have to suspend disbelief. I mean really, although I’d love to be able to sing a lyric aria at the point of my death, after being stabbed or suffering for tuberculosis or whatever, odds are it ain’t gonna be happening. Opera is all about emotion. Is it logical to bellow out a love song within inches of your lover’s face? Nope, but, Dear God is it pretty.
Be glad you’re going to a good opera done by a good company. I live in the deep south and, although they try, our nearest major city has a bad opera company. Really bad. The *Magic Flute * as Pam-Ewing-Dreamed-it bad. What-this-show-needs-is-more-children-everywhere-on-stage BAD. I had to cancel my season tickets after that.
Certainly a problem in Mozart and Wagner, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t like Britten’s music much, so I couldn’t say. I studied Monteverdi in my undergrad years and found the musical structure so fascinating I didn’t notice such passages.
There are times when it doesn’t bother me at all. La Boheme is big favorite of mine, come to think of it. And there was a broadcast of The Ring Cycle on PBS within the last 15 or twenty years that was breathtaking, despite the fact that Wagner’s music quite deliberately doesn’t go anywhere. For a long, long time. He’s the Stephen King of 19th century music.
Although, overall, I don’t find myself drawn to the genre.
Well from my limited exposure, it seems that the “drama” part of opera is highly stylized and secondary to the music. Wagner attempted to bring the dramatic part more to the fore than others, and he called his Lyrikdramen to emphasize that fact.
As for Verdi, I listened to La Traviata and Il Trovatore for most of yesterday. I was struck by the ouverture of the former, which reminded me of a Beethoven “quiet” movement, like the 2nd movement of the Ninth Symphony.
You’re going to see Il Trovatore? Whatever you do, do NOT watch the Marx Brothers** A Night at the Opera ** before you see * Il Trovatore*. You’ll disturb the other people at the opera too much when you start laughing.
I love opera, and I love the Marx Brothers. And I love Harpo imitating Azucena in* A Night at the Opera.*