I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

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Imperfect Pitch
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by Imperfect Pitch » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:22 pm

lmpower wrote:Magic Flute illustrates different levels of human development. Papageno represents the carnal man. He is interested in eating, drinking, sleeping and getting a girl friend. By accepting and cherishing this character Mozart is liberated to go to the next level, which is Tamino, the noble, high minded hero, who is on a quest for higher levels of experience. Finally we see the fulfillment of Mozart's ideals in Sarastro and the chorus, who represent the enlightenment of the sage or holy man. Mozart beautifully expresses these different levels of consciousness in his inimitable music. It is also interesting to note the sexual preferences of the characters. Papageno has a preference for Papagena, who is a sweetie. Tamino has a preference for Pamina, a noble, high minded lady, who will follow him through long and arduous trials. Sarastro is celibate. I consider this opera to be Mozart's masterpiece and one of the supreme ahcievements of the human race.
Thank you for this, lmpower. I am only now becoming acquainted with Zauberflöte through the Solti/Vienna Phil recording. I don't know why it took me so long, but I am hoping it eventually joins my stable of "core" Mozart works, which - at present - includes two other operas (the ones I mentioned earlier).

jbuck919
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:55 am

lmpower wrote:Sarastro is celibate.
Oh come now, haven't you seen the Bergman film? Sarastro is Queenie's ex-lover and Pamina's father, who finally wins a bitter child custody battle. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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lmpower
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by lmpower » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:19 am

As a matter of fact I had not seen Bergman's version of Magic Flute, so I looked it up in Wikipedia. "Bergman made a major change in the plot." It sound to me like Bergman's version of Mozart is no better than Peter Shaffer's. I say this even though I am an admirer of some of Bergman's early work. I would really like to get Agnes Selby's opinion on the Bergman movie. My intuition still tells me that Sarastro comes across as a celibate sage. There doesn't seem to be any contraindication in the libretto. I don't think Shickaneder will return from the grave to pull a J.K. Rowling on us and explain Sarastro's real sexual orientation.

lmpower
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by lmpower » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:24 am

As a matter of fact I had not seen Bergman's version of Magic Flute, so I looked it up in Wikipedia. "Bergman made a major change in the plot." It sounds to me like Bergman's version of Mozart is no better than Peter Shaffer's. I say this even though I am an admirer of some of Bergman's early work. I would really like to get Agnes Selby's opinion on the Bergman movie. My intuition still tells me that Sarastro comes across as a celibate sage. There doesn't seem to be any contraindication in the libretto. I don't think Shickaneder will return from the grave to pull a J.K. Rowling on us and explain Sarastro's real sexual orientation.

John F
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by John F » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:47 am

The priests in "Magic Flute" are definitely not celibate, and if not, there's no reason why Sarastro should be. "Contraindications": in the libretto, Tamino is welcomed into the priesthood and marries Pamina, or is about to as the curtain falls. And if, as the authors clearly intended and everyone agrees, the priests are analogous to the Freemasons, the latter certainly weren't celibate either, as married men including Mozart and Schikaneder themselves were full members of the order. Only men could be Masons, and the choruses show that the priests are all men too, but that's a different matter.

(Incidentally, the action and the words suggest that not just Tamino but Pamina is accepted into the order. If so, then she would seem to be the first woman to be admitted. But I don't think too much should be made of this - to separate them at the end would be to complicate things instead of wrapping them up.)

Bergman's film is faithful to the text of "Magic Flute" and to its spirit and meaning as well. You really ought to see it before criticizing it. If Bergman believed that Sarastro was the Queen of the Night's husband and Pamina's father, he's not the first, and the text neither affirms nor excludes this possibility. Doesn't need it either - the enmity between the Queen and Sarastro needs no such psychologizing - but this certainly is not a "major change in the plot," merely an elaboration of the back story.
John Francis

Beckmesser
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by Beckmesser » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:16 pm

I'm sorry that Dulcinea finds Così fan tutte lacking. Perhaps a different production might help. I offer this one which was featured on La Cieca's blog at parterre.com:



Seriously though, Così has become my favorite Mozart opera. The music is a delight to the ear. Yes, it's true that modern listeners may find 18th century plot devices ridiculous. I even question whether comic operas are really funny (to modern audiences, at least). I think an earlier poster mentioned that Così is not purely comic but has a dark undertone as well.

I sometimes share Chalkie's attitude: the plot and text don't matter. It's all about the music. Not everyone will agree but I have fallen in love with operas (Dvorak's Rusalka, for example) when I didn't have a clue what the opera was about.

lmpower
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by lmpower » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:35 pm

John F, I appreciate your knowledgeable critique of Magic Flute. You may well have the right interpretation. If that is the case, how could a wise man like Sarastro marry someone like queen of the night? Well I guess those mistakes happen in real life too.

lmpower
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by lmpower » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:40 pm

I also feel the need to address Cosi Fan Tutte. In spite of the fact that I saw Schwarzkopf at the height of her powers sing Fiordiligi, I have continued to feel that Cosi is only my fourth favorite Mozart opera. My appreciation of it has been increasing however. Some think it has the best score of any Mozart opera. It is also replete with mellifluous arias and ensembles. Un Aura Amorosa is better than any of Don Ottavio's arias. I would recommend that everyone have the Karl Bohm and Elizabeth Schwarzkopf recording of this work. Mark Anstendig was a great admirer of Cosi. It was his opinion that the female orgasm was embedded in Fiordiligi's aria "Per Pieta." Cosi was written as a kind of encore for Figaro. It may be that Cosi's charms are somewhat subtler but not inferior to Figaro. The plot undoubtedly puts some people off, but even there DaPonte and Mozart are trying to explore the complexity and difficulty of human relationships.

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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:48 pm

lmpower wrote:Mark Anstendig was a great admirer of Cosi. It was his opinion that the female orgasm was embedded in Fiordiligi's aria "Per Pieta."
Before this goes any further, former CMG member Mark Anstendig also thought that Rimsky-Korsakov was the greatest Romantic composer, and that Bach's Magnificat was his greatest composition.

(Above not to be interpreted as my deprecating Cosi, which I regard as a masterpiece.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lmpower
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by lmpower » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:55 pm

Alright Jbuck, Mark had some eccentric opinions, but what do you think of his reaction to "Per Pieta?" I have just watched a Sally Matthews rendition of the aria on youtube. It looked to me like she agreed with Mark on this one.

dulcinea
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by dulcinea » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:48 pm

I just started listening to COSI. What is the origin of its plot? A tale in the first part of DON QUIJOTE, EL CURIOSO IMPERTINENTE=THE IMPERTINENT ONE WHO WAS TOO CURIOUS FOR HIS OWN GOOD, greatly resembles it, except that it's a tragedy instead of a comedy.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

dulcinea
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by dulcinea » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:56 pm

I think I met someone as tricky and devious as Despina in my parochial high school.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

Teresa B
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by Teresa B » Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:51 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
dulcinea wrote:what must I look for in those regarded as his masterpieces? For ex, what am I supposed to see and hear in COSI FAN TUTTE, whose plot is sillier than many sitcoms I could mention, and THE MAGIC FLUTE, whose plot is among the strangest and most confusing in all opera? :? :? :?
I have no idea, I never read the Librettos, the Music's all I care about... :wink:
That's what I always did, but I just got the most terrific early birthday gift--a set of "Magic Flute" dishes with parts of the libretto written on the bottom of them. The characters are shown on the rim of the plates, etc. Soooo cool, but alas, I'll have to sit there and figure out what the words say or go crazy trying!
:D
Teresa

P.S. I still love the music more.
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Agnes Selby
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by Agnes Selby » Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:18 pm

Teresa B wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
dulcinea wrote:what must I look for in those regarded as his masterpieces? For ex, what am I supposed to see and hear in COSI FAN TUTTE, whose plot is sillier than many sitcoms I could mention, and THE MAGIC FLUTE, whose plot is among the strangest and most confusing in all opera? :? :? :?
I have no idea, I never read the Librettos, the Music's all I care about... :wink:
That's what I always did, but I just got the most terrific early birthday gift--a set of "Magic Flute" dishes with parts of the libretto written on the bottom of them. The characters are shown on the rim of the plates, etc. Soooo cool, but alas, I'll have to sit there and figure out what the words say or go crazy trying!
:D
Teresa

P.S. I still love the music more.
Mozart would have LOVED this dinner set.
Elegance always appealed to him.

Agnes.

John F
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by John F » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:30 pm

dulcinea wrote:I just started listening to COSI. What is the origin of its plot? A tale in the first part of DON QUIJOTE, EL CURIOSO IMPERTINENTE=THE IMPERTINENT ONE WHO WAS TOO CURIOUS FOR HIS OWN GOOD, greatly resembles it, except that it's a tragedy instead of a comedy.
There was a story that the plot began with an incident at one of Vienna's masked balls, with two friends swapping their girls and not being detected. But there's nothing to support this in a reliable source, and the story appears to have been Lorenzo Da Ponte's invention. The idea of a controlled quasi-scientific experiment to prove that women aren't faithful lovers is very much of its time, the Enlightenment aka Age of Reason, and if the story predated Da Ponte's libretto it can't have been by much.
John Francis

dulcinea
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by dulcinea » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:40 am

On its face, DON GIOVANNI seems an straightforward depiction of the Don Juan legend, but am I right in assuming that there is more to it than that?
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

John F
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Re: I'm All Done With The Really Boring Early Mozart Operas;

Post by John F » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:37 am

dulcinea wrote:On its face, DON GIOVANNI seems an straightforward depiction of the Don Juan legend
Pretty much so.
dulcinea wrote:am I right in assuming that there is more to it than that?
Da Ponte adapted/stole the libretto of a brand new opera by Gazzaniga, itself adapted and simplified from Tirso de Molina's "El Burlador de Sevilla" (not Molière's "Don Juan," though this was well known). The source libretto was too short, so Da Ponte padded it out - not by restoring material cut from Tirso's play, but by adding the episode of Leporello impersonating his master to fool Donna Elvira plus Giovanni's beating of Masetto. These complications don't advance the plot significantly, but they gave Mozart opportunities which he siezed on such as Don Giovanni's serenade, Zerlina's "Batti, batti," and the imposing sextet which ends the episode.

Also, for Vienna, Da Ponte/Mozart added a farce scene for Zerlina and Leporello which does nothing for the plot, is pretty lame musically, and is almost always left out of performances and recordings.
John Francis

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