1/ Idk jack about IOLANTA, so I'll write about BLUEBEARD'S. Ultimate existential solitude-angst. B insists there will never be light in his castle, and the final stage direction says: "Darkness creeps across the stage, engulfing Bluebeard." So, when dudes have locked doors, ...
2/ consider seriously letting them stay locked. The 7 doors (number chosen for analogy to 7 seals?):
1. Torture chamber
2. Armory
3. Treasury
4. Secret garden
5. Expansive domains
6. Lake of tears
7. The previous wives - whom Judith, our heroine, must now join, ...
3/ leaving Bluebeard again alone. Musical climax - what I think fans buy tix for - is the 5th door, "expansive domains." Great crashing C major chords, w full orchestra + organ, repeatedly well up. What you see depends on the production: I last saw it in 1975: B and J were inert
4/ on center stage throughout until the end. Visions on the rear screen or cyclorama showed what was behind each door. For the 5th door, it showed Earth as seen from the then-recent Apollo missions. While Door 5 is a great musical moment, so too - in a chilling way - is B's
5/ quasi-aria at the last door. In Kallman's translation:
"She the first I found at morning
Garlanded with early roses
Now the lucid cloak of morning
Decked with hawthorn and with roses
Now its diadem of dew
Are hers forever, hers in beauty!
"She the second came at midday
Bright with raiments of its fire
Now the noon's resplendent mantle
Heavy with the flame that lights it
Now its crown or ardent
Are hers forever, hers in beauty!"
7/ *Now its crown of argent gold
8/And so on through the bride of evening, to the bride of nighttime - Judith, who must now join the three others.

"Living - they are living!" Judith said when the 7th door was first opened.

"Darkness creeps across the stage, engulfing Bluebeard."
9/ Well this production - by Mariusz Trelinski, who is also a film director, as Valery Gergiev mentioned in one of the interviews - certainly establishes that the opera stage is now as much a cgi space as film is. I miss the Apollo Mission Earth from the '70s prodn by Bodo Igesz
10/ and David Reppa, but the way the 5th Door was done here made something clear that, to me, wasn't before: at that point there's a reversal of emotional polarity. Judith had been the clingy one, now suddenly Bluebeard is, as he tries to keep Judith as a real girl so to speak
11/ and keep her from becoming (by what means - never specified) just another revered memory. It's at the 5th Door that light briefly floods the castle - something Judith has said from the beginning she wants to make happen. It would be the natural place for her to stop asking
12/ for those damn keys. But no-o-o-o-o.

Ladies: your love is not going to change him. Marry the nice guy. And especially you, Richard III fangirls: stop letting your inner Judith drive your interpretation of historical sources.
13/ 5th Door, from final dress rehearsal of this production, Jan. 23 1015:
14/ Ngl, BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE gets under your skin if you let it. Dang folklore. Dang Hungarians. Tues night, had weirdest xgf dream ever....
15/ Title in Hungarian: A KÉKSAKÁLLÚ HERCEG VÁRA. Hung. borrows German word for Duke, “Herzog.” Vára = castle, as you quickly learn from watching a perf. in Hung. w subtitles. Kéksakállú = Bluebeard. It also bumps up against “Texaco,” former sponsor of Met Saturday b’casts -
16/ “the longest continuous sponsorship in radio history” - until it stopped. “You can trust your car/To the man who wears the star/The big bright Kéksakállú star!” (Trelinkski’s production starts w Judith being dropped off at the castle by a mysterious car that then departs.)
17/ <Milton Cross voice>

“Kéksakállú presents the Metropolitan Opera....”

“Time now for the Kéksakállú Opera Quiz, with your host, Edward Downes....”

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More from @david_m_wagner

11 Nov
1/ FANCIULLA had its world premiere at the Met, and it represents the extension of Puccini's usual style - "verismo," real ppl in real settings - to the American West. Minnie is an innocent girl who keeps a saloon in CA in 1850. If that seems unrealistic, at least note that
2/NY audiences had gotten used to it with the success of the play by David Belasco, on which Puccini based the opera. It appears Minnie's parents were pre-Gold Rush Anglo immigrants to California. From them she inherited the saloon and the Bible, and to a passel of homesick 49ers
3/ she's both barkeep and Bible teacher. She articulates the opera's theme during the Bible lesson scene in Act 1:
"What's hyssop, Minnie?"
"It's a plant that grows in the East, Joe."
"Does it grow out here?"
"Yes, Joe - it grows in your heart, in the heart of everyone who seeks
Read 10 tweets
10 Nov
1/ We're going by premiere dates. On last night's double bill, IOLANTA was 1ered in 1982, and BLUEBEARD'S in 1918, turning the century. Richard Strauss's SALOME - 1905. It's based on Wilde's play, which takes the Gospel narratives of the death of the John the Baptist (here,
2/ "Iokanaan"), found in Mt 14:1-12 and Mk 6:14-29, and then asks, what if the idea of asking for Iokanaan's head as the price of her dance did not come from Herodias, but from the daughter herself, due to rapid-onset and ill-understood sexual passion?
3/ Btw, Josephus supplies us with the name of "the daughter of Herodias": Salome, and no matter how you pronounce it in Biblical studies, in opera we ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pronounce it "SAL-o-may."
Read 9 tweets
6 Nov
1/ A historical tour of opera has to include “bel canto,” ie Italian romanticism in age of Scott & Coleridge. Best of bel canto, & in particular of Rossini, is comedy, so this fortnight gives us a basis (and a news backdrop) for some heavy bel canto historical drama. ...
2/ Hence “Semiramis,” or in Italian SEMIRAMIDE, 5 sylls., emph on RA. I tell opera peeps I’m not so interested in “SEMI-RAMIDE,” I’d rather wait for the whole RAMIDE, y’know? But srsly folks, not many of us wd even remember Babylonian Queen Semiramis if she weren’t a walk-on...
3/ in the Inferno canto that features Francesca da Rimini. I learned this opera’s plot last fall but have forgotten it again, so I’d say, watch/listen for the voices and tunes, which are what bel canto is about anyway. The evolution of opera toward stories ppl cd get more “into”
Read 4 tweets
5 Nov
“Count every vote” was also Gore’s postelection slogan in 2000. What we need to do is count every *legal* vote (as determined by state law, state legislatures being sovereign in this matter), and tossing out all others. ...
So like if I decide that Biden shouldn’t have carried Va, I nonetheless don’t get to manufacture wheelbarrows full@if Trump votes. UHaul then down to the county govt office, and demand that they be counted bc they’re, you know, votes. They aren’t *legal* votes. ...
So the county wd be right to toss me out, w my ballots flying after me; perhaps to have my ass kicked by the po-lice; and perhaps to have me prosecuted for attempted vote fraud.

So don’t attempt vote fraud; don’t get your ass licked by the po-lice; don’t even get tossed out of..
Read 4 tweets
5 Nov
1/ Mozart is a major opera composer bc of his 3 comedies w books by daPonte: FIGARO, DON GIOVANNI, & COSÌ. + inexplicably, Fratelli- er, um, THE MAGIC FLUTE. His “opere serie” like IDOMENEO ride on the coattails of these. IDOMENEO is not quite on the musical level of...
2/ his last opera seria, LA CLEMENZA DI TITO, but it has a simpler plot. That menacing sculptured face you see in the poster is a sea-monster sent by Neptune, who thoughtfulness is well documented throughout Homer & Virgil. IDOMENEO is not strictly Homeric but rather one of...
3/ many stories of problematic homecomings post-Trojan War. Like, Agamemnon arrived home and was violently offed by his wife and her lover. Idomeneus, king of Crete, was propelled home by a rash vow to Neptune, leading by staged to this sea-monster. Can Ido and his ppl escape...
Read 4 tweets
26 Oct
1/ Otto Edelmann, noted 1950s exponent of Baron Ochs, DER ROSENKAVALIER’s comic villain, was once asked whether you have to be as coarse as Ochs to play him. He said “No, you just have to be Viennese: it’s our [munipical] nation anthem!”
2/ ROSENKAVALIER (title translated, if at all, as The Knight of the Silver Rose) is about toney Viennese ppl (+ Ochs: Viennese but not toney) with “naughtiness... high in the catalogue of grave sins” (Brideshead to the rescue, again) yet endearing in spite of that.
3/ About the hero, 17yo Count Octavian Rofrano, usually sung as here by a mezzo (sometimes even by a soprano), an envious person cd ask just how much action one young Count can get under the Imperial Nookie Equity Act (that’s in Justinian, rt?), since the Act 1 curtain rises...
Read 6 tweets

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