Thursday, December 06, 2007

The true future of opera


'As a by-product, this development will put an end to today's star system. The indispensable quality of "stardom" is its rarity. But, on the one hand, the difference between a star and a non-star performance will not be tolerated much longer by a growingly knowledgeable public. On the other, the stars themselves will fade. Even now, their strength is being progressively dissipated by the incredible fatigue of their enforced nomadic life, and in the end they will be unable to deliver what is expected of them.

The true future of opera lies in the ensemble principle, by which I mean well-matched ensembles of fine singers working together and staying together. This mode of organisation has never completely disappeared. A few, very few, theatres have always maintained it, and elsewhere, now and then at the insistence of a maestro, a performance reflecting it turns up. So the ensemble principle will not need to be re-discovered. Even the public knows about it. And once the public starts asking for it, sooner or later it will get it'
- Antal Dorati writes in his 1979 autobiography Notes of Seven Decades (Hodder ISBN 0340159227).

The exigencies of the star sytem mean that Punch and Judy receives a tiny mention in this new Royal Opera House national press campaign, but its composer doesn't. Never mind, read about him here, and continue playing spot the composer's name here, before reading more about Maestro Dorati here.
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4 comments:

Chris Foley said...

I work for an opera company (Tapestry New Opera Works) that recently inaugurated an ensemble studio to form the core of their performing personnel. Some of the things I noticed as a member of this studio were a marked improvement in the quality of collaborative work, and a noticeably better product on the stage, as well as better cohesion and sense of purpose throughout the entire company.

Garth Trinkl said...

“Elemental Force… Meet Tony… One of the Most Electric Men in Opera!

Thanks for this, pliable.

My first guess that they were referring to British dramatist Tony Harrison – whom Thom Yorke of Radiohead considers one of his heroes – was obviously wrong. And I guess that if they are not even going to mention the composer of 'Punch and Judy' and 'The Minotaur', that they are not going to mention the two operas’ librettists.*

Trivia (?): What famous and humanist female “opera star” was dramatist and poet Tony Harrison married to?








*Stephen Pruslin and David Harsent

Pliable said...

... Her repertoire also included Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Despina in Così fan tutte, Cherubino and Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Liù in Turandot, Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Micaëla in Carmen, Marguerite in Faust, the title role in La Périchole, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Lisa in The Queen of Spades, The Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande, Marenka in The Bartered Bride, Desdemona in Otello, Mme Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites and Jenny Smith in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (directed by John Dexter).

Henry Holland said...

Why is the ROH doing a production of Punch and Judy when ENO is doing one at the Young Vic in May? Do the two companies ever talk to each other about repertoire?

I just wish that ENO was doing their well-received production of The Mask of Orpheus (still the only production of that astonishing piece) instead of P&J or especially The Second Mrs. Kong, which I think is an incredible opera.

Can't wait for The Minotaur; Birtwistle's recent pieces like The Shadow Of Night and Night's Black Bird are terrific. There's actually *gasp* some lyricism in them! No, not tunes, just lyricism, but still. :-)