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…

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…

Jacques Offenbach

Notes on the Melancholy Metaphysics of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann

Les Contes d’Hoffmann is Jacques Offenbach’s unfinished opera, based loosely on stories by the influential writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet is also based on a story of Hoffmann’s. Hoffmann, who was an adept musician as well as writer, is particularly known for his review of Beethoven’s fifth symphony in Leipzig’s Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Les…

Richard Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos – Edmonton Opera Nuova, 27 June 2012

Strauss, Richard: Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60 – live. Fine, funny, and moving performance by Edmonton’s Opera Nuova at the University of Alberta’s intimate Timms Centre. It had been a number of years since I last saw this performed, and it is interesting intellectually and emotionally how perspective modifies on the pull between the tragic and comedic, between…

Nietszche

Wagner, Nietzsche, Toscanini

Sunday, 17 June 2007, 8:17 am, St. Stephen, NB Better part of the day on NACLAA, writing the final assignment for the financial management course and completing the readings for the policy course; the latter were dull, and it took some pushing. Late in the afternoon, resumed work on poetry. *** “… in Wagner [Nietzsche]…

Fidelio, beginning of Act II (Courtesy: www.lvbeethoven.com

Beethoven’s Fidelio – Edmonton Opera, 24 April 2012

Beethoven: Fidelio Edmonton Opera, Jubilee Auditorium, 24 April 2012 Give Edmonton Opera welcome credit: Beethoven’s Fidelio is difficult to stage, and the dramatic narrative not always self-evident. It takes two-thirds of the first act to make clear that Fidelio the boy is Leonore the woman. And the final scene, which is triumphal and polemic, is…