Here at Balladeer’s Blog I love sharing my enthusiasms. My blog posts where I provide contemporary slants to Ancient Greek Comedies to make them more accessible have been big hits over the years, so I’ve been trying it with operas, too. Previously I wrote about how Philip Wylie’s science fiction novel Gladiator could be done as an opera. Then I looked at how an opera version of the 1966 Spaghetti Western Django could be done and then an opera based on the novel Venus in Furs.
This blog post starts a look at how the original Dune novel could be done as an entire cycle of operas. If you’re not familiar with the story it is set over 20,000 years in the future, when humanity has colonized many Earth-like planets.
LANGUAGE: Spanish. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that most of my fellow English-speakers find English-language operas to be silly. The prosaic nature of the forced rhymes in a language we are well-versed in does seem to rob opera of its mystique and its grandeur.
SINGERS: Two Baritones, two Bass-Baritones, two Sopranos, one Mezzo-Soprano, four Tenors, a contralto and a Bass.
ACTS: FOUR ACTS
STORY: My fellow Dune geeks may get annoyed with this change, but remember, adaptations for staged performances have to be made very tight. I would start out at the Arrakeen Great Hall as the family and court members of House Atreides have just arrived on Arrakis/ Dune, the desert planet. All the scenes that the book covered while the Atreides family were preparing to depart their home on Caladan would instead play out shortly after their arrival on their new planetary fiefdom. Continue reading
VENUS IN FURS: AN OPERA – Here at Balladeer’s Blog I love sharing my enthusiasms. My blog posts where I provide contemporary slants to Ancient Greek Comedies to make them more accessible have been big hits over the years, so I’ve begun trying that approach with operas, too.
Previously I presented how I would handle opera versions of the 1930 science fiction novel Gladiator and of the original 1966 Spaghetti Western Django. This time I’ll deal with Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch’s erotic 1870 novel Venus In Furs in opera format.
VENUS IN FURS
SINGERS: A Tenor, a Baritone, a Soprano, 3 Mezzo-Sopranos and 2 Basses
I would present Venus In Furs as a two-act opera. I originally pondered a one-act format but that would have run into the same problem as the Richard Strauss opera Capriccio with the length pretty much dictating an intermission at some point.
Obviously what was daringly explicit in 1870 is just a bit titillating – even silly – here in 2020. I would not treat the story as outright comedy but like a more serious version of battle-of-the-sexes tales like The Taming of the Shrew with elements of Gothic Horror and dark comedy thrown in.
That fluctuation between opera seria and opera buffa would reflect a bit of the approach used in the 1786 opera Prima La Musica E Poi Le Parole. Act One would be a bit light in tone with the real darkness coming in Act Two.
ACT ONE: A POSH HEALTH RESORT IN THE CARPATHIANS, 1870. Continue reading
Over the past decade or so I’ve grown fonder and fonder of Umberto Giordano’s 1896 opera Andrea Chenier. Like many Americans I used to consider myself a Liberal before Liberalism became as oppressive, totalitarian and intellectually suffocating as Christian Conservatism had always been. I’ve never gone as far as people like Roger Simon, David Horowitz and others who went overboard the other way and became Conservatives but I definitely despise the cowardly hypocrites and mindless conformists called American Liberals.
Andrea Chenier, the title figure of Giordano’s opera, was a poet who happily embraced the French Revolution at the outset but later grew appalled at the excesses of the Reign of Terror. He courageously wrote condemnations of the Jacobins, whom he felt distorted the original aims of the Revolution and turned it into a vehicle for their own personal abuse of power.
Chenier paid the price for his courage and for speaking his conscience. He was guillotined a few days before the mass executions ended. The demented zealots of the American Left have likewise gone too far and similarly turn on former allies over the slightest departure from dogma. Giordano’s opera is not entirely about such themes but I find myself going back to it at least once a year in these times because of how much the message still resonates.
American Liberals have become nothing but fascists who disregard other people’s civil rights and ignore the rule of law. They favor censorship on a massive scale, the rewriting of history to suit their political fetishes of the moment and the blacklisting of anyone who opposes them. Worst of all are the 1960’s generation of Liberals. They are far too spineless to address the real issues so they endlessly restage old battles against wrongs that were corrected long ago. And all the while they pretend they’re the Young Turks in town, pushing daring new ideas even though all they do is regurgitate the conventional wisdom from five decades ago. Continue reading