Dialogues des Carmelites (Courtesy: broadwayworld.com)

Francis Poulenc – Dialogues des Carmélites (1956) – Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden IV:II

Poulenc’s extraordinary opera is a study of the moral courage of decision within the increasingly inescapable social context of a chosen theological dialectic. The concluding scene begins with a searing orchestral invocation that introduces the 14 executions by guillotine. The final few bars hark back to the opening music of the opera, and complete the…

Crack house demolition, St. Stephen New Brunswick

The Start of My Own Political Campaign – Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden I:II:2

“The Start of My Own Political Campaign,” a poem from Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden was published in Fredericton’s St. Thomas University’s Nashwaak Review, volume 30/31, in 2013. Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden discusses problems that are examined in Richard Wagner’s tetralogy, The Ring of the Nibelung, and the problems presented by the composer himself, his work, and the…

Wotan’s Farewell – Die Walküre

The finest music in the Ring, and the most telling drama. And, I think, the turning point in the tetralogy, where it moves from the divine to the human, and the loss that is in the awareness thereof. The severing of child from the divinity in the parent; of what that is lost therefrom to…

The Three Fates. From the east pediment of the Parthenon.

Song of the Fates – Brahms & Rameau

Brahms’s “Gesang der Parzen” (Song of the Fates), written in 1882, uses text from Goethe’s Iphigenia auf Tauris. Iphigenia, saved by Artemis from sacrifice at Aulis, as a priestess of Artemis has responsibility for the sacrificial death of foreigners who reach the Crimea. Goethe’s lines refer to the necessity of mankind fearing the gods, the…

Verdi, portrait by Molentini, 1839-40 (Courtesy: www.verdi.san.beniculturali.it)

King for a Day – Verdi – Un giorno di regno (1840)

Un giorno di regno — ‘King for a day’ — is Verdi’s second opera, and the first of his only two comic operas, the other being his last opera, Falstaff, written over half a century later. The ear will at once discern that Un giorno di regno is much influenced by Rossini, with reminiscences of the styles of Bellini…

The Rainbow Bridge at the conclusion of Das Rheingold, in Robert Lepage's production.

Richard Wagner – Das Rheingold (1854)

Watched Robert Lepage’s 2010 staging of Wagner’s Das Rheingold at the Met, with Levine conducting. I was interested particularly how “the machine” served the staging, and I am unconvinced, with singers sliding here and there, and guy ropes keeping others from sliding at all. It reminded me a bit of Edmonton winter sidewalks on a…

Rembrandt: Faust in his Study (1650-52)

Music Recently Studied

Bach, J.S.: Cantata BWV 36 (1731). Bach, J.S.: Cantata BWV 62 (1724). Bach, J.S.: Cantata BWV 61 (1714). Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai: Scheherezade, Op. 35 (1888). The CulturalRites article is here. Mahler, Gustav: Symphony 6 in a (1904). Korngold, Erich: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 (1945). Mahler, Gustav: Symphony 5 in c♯ (1902). Listened to while walking…

The Norns in the Prologue of Götterdämmerung, in the Robert Lepage production at the Metropolitan Opera

The Sword and the Renunciation of Love in Wagner’s Ring

A Brief Note on Aspects of Artistic Symbolism This morning I completed re-reading Deryck Cooke’s brilliant if demanding interpretation of Rheingold and The Valkyrie, in his I Saw the World End; and returned to his introductory material. In this chapter on the puzzle, and the problem, of The Ring, Cooke discusses the difficulty of interpretation of…