Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

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lennygoran
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Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by lennygoran » Thu May 31, 2018 10:50 pm

Effectively done-I was glad to have been there-yeah a few puccini style arias would have been nice too! :lol: Len

However the highlight of the day was the show at the met museum of art-superb!

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maestrob
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by maestrob » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:13 am

I tried to sit through the telecast of the original overseas production. Couldn't take the music, so I turned it off.

Suppose in some circles this is considered a masterwork. Not in mine. :mrgreen: :roll:

lennygoran
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by lennygoran » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:31 pm

maestrob wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:13 am
I tried to sit through the telecast of the original overseas production. Couldn't take the music, so I turned it off.

Suppose in some circles this is considered a masterwork. Not in mine. :mrgreen: :roll:
Brian someone told me that overseas production was from Spain-I wonder if the set was at least decent-NYCO's set was definitely in the ball park-the music never interfered for me with the opera but a little more puccini/verdi/ donizetti couildn't have hurt it! Regards, Len :lol: :lol: :lol:

maestrob
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by maestrob » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:59 pm

lennygoran wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:31 pm
maestrob wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:13 am
I tried to sit through the telecast of the original overseas production. Couldn't take the music, so I turned it off.

Suppose in some circles this is considered a masterwork. Not in mine. :mrgreen: :roll:
Brian someone told me that overseas production was from Spain-I wonder if the set was at least decent-NYCO's set was definitely in the ball park-the music never interfered for me with the opera but a little more puccini/verdi/ donizetti couildn't have hurt it! Regards, Len :lol: :lol: :lol:
The world premiere was in 2014, and it was in a smaller opera house; I remember that the scenery was serviceable, not as outrageous as the music! With all due respect to our Karl Henning's teacher, of course (Charles Wuorinen). :D The b'cast is available on youtube, naturally, so you can see for yourself.

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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:07 pm

Okay, I just saw Brian's message and didn't realize the music was by Charles Wuorninen. I recall seeing the film and thought the scenery throughout was gorgeous; the photography was outstanding. Apparently the music didn't have the same affect on you. So, was Wuorninen's music so "outside the box," as it were? You were not simply able to take the music? Tell me more.
lennygoran wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:31 pm
maestrob wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:13 am
I tried to sit through the telecast of the original overseas production. Couldn't take the music, so I turned it off.

Suppose in some circles this is considered a masterwork. Not in mine. :mrgreen: :roll:
Brian someone told me that overseas production was from Spain-I wonder if the set was at least decent-NYCO's set was definitely in the ball park-the music never interfered for me with the opera but a little more puccini/verdi/ donizetti couildn't have hurt it! Regards, Len :lol: :lol: :lol:
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maestrob
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by maestrob » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:15 pm

Hi, Lance!

Yes, the music was "outside the box" for me, as you put it. I care for melody and drama in opera, and there was simply no melody in this opera that my ears could catch. I'm not against contemporary music per se, but I don't care for noise, and I make no apologies for that POV.

With no offense intended to Karl, of course. :)

lennygoran
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:41 am

maestrob wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:59 pm
The b'cast is available on youtube, naturally, so you can see for yourself.
Brian couldn't find the whole opera on youtube but there were enough clips from the Madrid production which showed the NYCO was pretty much in line with the Madrid one. Here's a clip that offered info. Regards, Len

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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:18 am

Now the NYTimes has weighed in. Regards, Len


Review: ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ the Opera, Falls Short of Its Potential


By Anthony Tommasini

June 1, 2018

Some new operas are exasperating because they fall far short of their potential. Charles Wuorinen’s “Brokeback Mountain,” though, is exasperating because it falls just short.

This “Brokeback” comes so close to living up to its promise and becoming a truly distinctive modernist opera. But for all Mr. Wuorinen’s skill and the risks he takes challenging audiences with unabashedly atonal, fiercely complex music, the score often seems relentlessly busy and ineffectively intricate.

That’s the way the opera, adapted by Annie Proulx from her short story about the doomed love between two Wyoming cowboys, came across at its premiere in 2014 at the Teatro Real in Madrid. And that was still my conclusion on Thursday, when New York City Opera presented the American premiere at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

This was a belated homecoming for the piece, which Gerard Mortier originally commissioned for City Opera a decade ago, when he was poised to take charge of the company. But then he resigned abruptly and took “Brokeback” with him to Madrid. In some ways, the opera works better in the more intimate Rose Theater than it did in the spacious Teatro Real. You are closer to the singers, though Jacopo Spirei’s production, which originated at the Salzburg State Theater in 2016 for a new chamber version of the score, looks cramped and a little cheap: Cumbersome set pieces representing cliffs roll creakily on and off the stage.


In a 2014 interview, Mr. Wuorinen stressed that his opera is closer to Ms. Proulx’s story than to Ang Lee’s powerful 2005 film, which presents the protagonists, Ennis and Jack, as matinee idols and the mountain landscape of Wyoming as lush and almost beckoning. The story makes clear that Brokeback Mountain is a treacherous environment for hard-bitten men.

That danger comes through from the start of the opera: Over a deep, sustained pedal tone, the music heaves and surges with murky harmonies and a brassy undertow. Pitches linger, bend, then splinter into skittish shards that break off and disappear. The conductor Kazem Abdullah drew lucid textures, rhythmic bite and abundant colorings from the orchestra.

With considerable adroitness, Mr. Wuorinen sets vocal lines that follow natural speech patterns. The bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, who created the role of Ennis in Madrid, sings with mellow sound and affecting vulnerability. And the tenor Glenn Seven Allen, with his robust voice and youthful swagger, is ideally suited to Jack.

Still, in scene after scene, their exchanges are encumbered by complex music roiling in the orchestra. Mr. Wuorinen’s intention, it would seem, is to suggest the fraught emotions that course within these characters, as well as the societal forces that threaten them. But when the orchestra erupts with pointillist riffs and rawness, even as Jack and Ennis share an emotional moment, the music makes them — unsophisticated, rural characters — seem oddly brainy. Mr. Wuorinen is more effective when he cuts the density of the music to allow the lovers some lyrical breathing room, as when they spend a forlorn but passionate night in a seedy motel.

The soprano Heather Buck, who sang the role of Alma, Ennis’s wife, in Madrid, performed it here with bright sound and sensitivity. The mezzo-soprano Hilary Ginther makes a sultry Lureen, Jack’s wife, who pressures him to give up his fantasies of rodeo glory and become a providing husband.

In Ennis’s final soliloquy, after Jack has died (almost surely, as Ennis suspects, from a savage attack by men who know the truth about him), Mr. Wuorinen gets the balance between plaintive expressivity and modernist edginess exactly right. Mr. Okulitch sang magnificently. It left me thinking what this composer could have achieved throughout the opera.


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/01/arts ... collection

maestrob
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by maestrob » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:35 am

A fair take on the subject, methinks. Thanks, Len. :)

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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:47 pm

maestrob wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:13 am
I tried to sit through the telecast of the original overseas production. Couldn't take the music, so I turned it off.
As I have posted, I watched that entire telecast. One problem with modern English opera and, to an extent, vocal music, is that English without either on one hand a (now inconceivable) tonal structure or on the other a gimmick (minimalism) is bound to come out sounding like a modernist mish-mash. There's just no getting around it if the composer's aim is to write "art music" (elimination Randall Thomson, but including composers going back at least to Roger Sessions). The high end of modernism, twelve-tone, just atonal, or pseudo-neo-tonal (for want of a better term) seems to me to have more success with instrumental music. Thoughts, maestrob? Karl Henning if you're still around? And of course anyone else who cares to comment.

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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jserraglio
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by jserraglio » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:11 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:47 pm
English without either on one hand a ... tonal structure or on the other a gimmick (minimalism) is bound to come out sounding like a modernist mish-mash. There's just no getting around it if the composer's aim is to write "art music"

Atonal, English, clear, structured, compelling, theatrical art music.


A new work by George Benjamin. English it is, modernist it is, mishmash it is not.


Roberto Gerhard The Duena, atonal English, gets around the language barrier.


Roberto Gerhard The Plague, atonal English modernist one-act opera, à la Dallapiccola.


Uses atonal elements to great dramatic effect.


A fully tonal operetta that in this scene purposively parodies atonality.


Not in English, it qualifies nonetheless as a tightly woven high modernist classic that I think Roger Sessions would have approved of.

maestrob
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by maestrob » Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:52 am

jserraglio: I enjoyed all of the above. Thank-you.

To those we could add Benjamin Britten, whose musical language could be quite astringent at times, yet his operas (though not of THIS century) IMHO are great works, including the rarely performed Death in Venice, the MET world premiere of which I attended in 1975 as a standee, luckily able to move to first-row seat when someone walked out after the first half.

jbuck: I agree that English is a problem for composers to set to music (so many vowels not pronounceable on high notes), yet Phillip Glass managed it quite well, as did Ned Rorem in his opera "Our Town" recently released on CD. True these are melodic composers, but they show that the English language can be molded into music that is quite enjoyable for a larger audience. Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" is another fine example, which starred a baritone from my competition, John Packard, in its leading role at NYCO.

The problem with Wuorinen's opera then is not that he uses English, but that his overall style is, while quite original, not pleasing to the ear: It sounds like random noise, where the notes don't seem to have any relation to one another, except in the composer's mind. Since that what he obviously wants, I think that capitalizing on the popularity of such a moving story in order to sell his opera has a whiff of opportunism about it.

Certainly there will be those who disagree, perhaps violently, but noise is noise IMHO, and I believe another composer could have done better.

Again, de gustibus.

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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by jserraglio » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:08 am

maestrob wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:52 am
To those we could add Benjamin Britten, whose musical language could be quite astringent at times
I agree and Britten's The Turn of the Screw was actually one of the modern works on my list to illustrate how English could be brought across in an atonal work. I would say George Benjamin does this best among contemporary English composers.
Last edited by jserraglio on Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

maestrob
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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by maestrob » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:12 am

jserraglio wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:08 am
maestrob wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:52 am
To those we could add Benjamin Britten, whose musical language could be quite astringent at times
I agree and Britten's The Turn of the Screw was actually one of the modern works on my list.
So it was! :oops:

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Re: Tonight's Brokeback Mountain

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:46 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:08 am
maestrob wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:52 am
To those we could add Benjamin Britten, whose musical language could be quite astringent at times
I agree and Britten's The Turn of the Screw was actually one of the modern works on my list to illustrate how English could be brought across in an atonal work. I would say George Benjamin does this best among contemporary English composers.
I liked and was surprised by the Benjamin.

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

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