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."
4/ Just as Wilde supplied lush, Biblical or faux-Biblical language for this story, Richard Strauss came alongside him in this and provided lush orchestration and soaring tunes, along with some dissonances, then quite experimental. just as he wd do soon after in his ELEKTRA,
5/ also coming up soon in these webcasts, and which is, like SALOME, a one-acter about an obsessed young woman - and great star-vehicle for a soprano who can handle it.

Karita Mattila certainly could, tho she may have been in her last Salome-capable years when this production
6/ was new and this vid was made. Also, fwiw, the days when sopranos entrusted with this role slipped behind the scenery and allowed a dancer to do the Dance of the Seven Veils are *over*, and Mattila does her own dance.
7/ See what you think about the mystical music that surrounds Iokanaan, i.e. John, esp. his entrance when Salome demands he be raised from his cistern. Most critics assert Strauss was a non-believer (true) and there4 this music must be mockery - which does *not* follow.
8/ Salome, Iokanaan, Herod, Herodias, "the Young Syrian" (in the opera given his personal name, Narraboth), the 5 Jews, the 2 Nazarenes - all these have their own musical language, suitable to who they are. Enjoy.
9/ NB The 1st Nazarene, who proclaims the Lord in the midst of Herod’s court, is sung by bass @MorrisDRobinson. The 1st time I heard him, which may well have been this, I was like, omg is that a bass or a gd thunder machine?

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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/ 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
Read 17 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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