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Todd
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Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

I was able to borrow a copy of Alfred Schnittke's Life with an Idiot from my local library and was simply amazed at this opera. The story, in so far as there is a comprehensible one, is told twice, and the whole thing is just about the most grotesque, brutal, and absorbing post-war opera I have yet heard. Mstislav Rostropovich outdoes himself conducting the work, and playing the solo cello and piano (!) parts. Sound is top-notch.

Like much Schnittke, the music is all over the place, displaying influences ranging from the Baroque to Shostakovich (with direct quotes) and beyond. This is no mere pastiche, though; it is an incredible mix of modernism, both musical and literary. I've listened to it twice and will need to listen to it four or five times more to "get it," or at least all of it. I'm sure that if I spoke Russian I would more fully understand it since some things are obviously lost in translation.

Story? Well, um, "I" is punished by the Party by being forced to live with an Idiot of his choosing from the local nut house. He chooses Vova (Lenin's nickname, and the character looks like Lenin) and takes him home to "Wife." All sorts of hilarity ensues, including an affair between Vova and Wife, an affair between Vova and I, and finally the decapitation murder of Wife. There's much more to it, including choral singing - both mixed and "homosexual" - and a few brief singing appearances by Marcel Proust! An interesting plot device is that Vova can say but one word: Ekh. He sings it over and over in a variety of settings. Hmm? A Lenin-esque figure speaking only jibberish? A critique? Nah. It is all very odd. Like I said, it will take a few more listens to absorb it all. Clearly, this is satirical and allegorical, and I just love it.

The bad news: it has been deleted. Not even MDT or amazon.de have it. I shall scour local CD huts and see if I can

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

I had a hankering for a good, lush, French opera, but what to listen to? I found Paul Dukas

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

Whilst browsing the opera bin at the library I came upon a real rarity: La Fiamma by Ottorino Respighi, conducted by Lamberto Gardelli on Hungaroton in the 1985 (!) premiere recording. I didn

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

Always one to look out for a good modern opera, I decided to go for Luigi Nono

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

I find Samuel Barber to be a rather underrated composer. His best works

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

After the disappointment of Barber

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

When I started this thread, I never thought that I

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

Ah, what an age we live in when not one, but two versions of an obscure dodecaphonic opera are available to collectors. I write of course about Ernst Krenek's Karl V. I figured I had to hear the first "complete" 12-tone opera, Lulu and Moses und Aron never quite being finished. But which version? The Orfeo release of a 1980 Salzburg Festival concert conducted by Gerd Albrecht, or the brand spanking new Marc Soustrot led version on Dabringhaus und Grimm. Since I found the former at half-price the decision was easy.

I'm glad I bought it. Quite glad. I'll state immediately that this opera cannot compare with either Lulu or Moses und Aron, but it is strong in its own way. The performances are all strong, Theo Adam making an effective Holy Roman Emperor. The opera is very sparse and austere, with many extended monologues and dialogues, and there is not really a whole lot of beauty here. The story is somewhat convoluted (not helped by the German-only text in the booklet; I managed to catch only parts of the work), and involves numerous characters, but such concerns are ultimately immaterial. The music is outstanding (keep in mind that I seem to inherently like dodecaphonic music) and the recorded sound is exceptional for a stage performance - the recording is analog, which helps.

How to solve the dilemma of no text? Easy, buy the other recording for a translation. I would have to anyway since the newer recording is of the complete version rather than the shortened version recorded on Orfeo, and sanctioned by Krenek.

Should you look into the work? If you like Berg and Schoenberg's operas, or better yet, if you love them as I do, then yes, buy it. If not, better to steer clear.

-

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

In opera as in other genres I am especially interested in modern works. After all, it was Wozzeck that got me into opera to begin with. My experience with other operas of the first half of the last century has generally been positive. Blessedly, Decca saw fit to produce the Entartete Musik series for a while and both Schulhoff

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

What is the worst opera ever written? We no doubt have no idea what it is since it was most likely never produced, let alone recorded. I have now heard an opera

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

[This is taken from a different forum, so please excuse the incomprehensible reference to Phil.]

Quite by coincidence, I had Kurt Weill

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

Contemporary opera. I feel compelled to seek out and listen to operatic works of the past couple of decades. Some opera buffs may opt to focus almost exclusively on past works, but since I live today, I want to hear what is written today. Or at least in the relatively recent past. That poses a problem, of course. Not too many contemporary works are recorded, and many are on obscure, hard to find labels. Thomas Ades is fortunate enough to be recorded by EMI. So when I found an opportunity to buy his opera Powder Her Face on the cheap, I figured why not?

I have previously reported that I liked the EMI disc of an assortment of Ades

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

After reading a number of very favorable reviews, I picked up Einojuhani Rautavaara

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

Todd, are you familiar with William Bolcom's setting of William Blake's complete "Songs of Innocence and Experience"? Opinions? Thoughts?

It's not an opera - I'm not sure what to call it.

I like a lot of Bolcom so I have the DVD-A (Naxos - Leonard Slatkin) in my shopping cart, just waiting to be purchased after I get through my latest shipment of 7 CD's.

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera


Quote:
Todd, are you familiar with William Bolcom's setting of William Blake's complete "Songs of Innocence and Experience"?

No, but I wouldn

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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera


Quote:

Quote:
Todd, are you familiar with William Bolcom's setting of William Blake's complete "Songs of Innocence and Experience"?

No, but I wouldn

Todd
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Re: Rare (or at least rare-ish) opera

[This is obviously taken from an on-going thread from another forum about Alexander von Zemlinsky. I'm too lazy to rewrite any of it.]

Night two of my Zemlinsky mini-marathon saw me go for the opera. It also saw me form a higher opinion of Zemlinsky. Much higher.

Whereas last night

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