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#4111 AdLibitum

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 12:01

I have to admit that whenever I see an opera production transposed to modern times I feel cheated of the spectacle I would expect. But I've never thought of that for the contemporary audiences in the past the costumes would also have been contemporary.

On the other hand, opera and Shakespeare mostly feature nobles and kings and queens, so surely even audiences contemporary to the authors would have expected some spectacle. (I'm looking at you Glyndebourne producers staging Figaro set in 1970s! I never got over that!)
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#4112 Zixi

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 13:48

There's a tension between making it accessible and and warping it beyond recognition. I'm thinking mostly of drama, I'm afraid - but  I've seen some unforgettable productions too and not in a good way... :blink: I'm just wondering if I'm more forgiving of music being 'changed' because I know less about it...  :wacko:

 

PS AdLibitum - I think you should grow spelt... I'm worried about the gluten content of wheat being high enough if it's grown in the UK... :lol:


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#4113 AdLibitum

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 14:27

I think the difference is whether the changes serve the production or the producer's ego.

I haven't got as far as worrying about gluten content, I must say! :D
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#4114 elemimele

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 14:35

True. On historically informed performances: yes, you can make the violin a Baroque one, you can agonise over how to hold it, get the right bow, retune everything to Baroque tunings, but in the end, the audience isn't authentic. And in any case, things don't look authentic with a mile of cabling all over the floor, a bank of sound-engineers peering at computer screens, and hi-tech microphones pointing at everything. This is why (together with not being a perfect-pitch person) I can't get excited about the details of the frequency of A (though whether an interval is pure matters a lot more).

As a teenager, my school class went to see Romeo and Juliet (English lit O-level!) which turned out to be performed in Victorian black suits. It ought to have worked well, Victorians being very good at large families. But it felt economical, as though someone couldn't be bothered to find the right costumes and therefore just did it in a load of black suits that happened to be hanging around in the wardrobe. In the end, great acting transcends stage, scene and costume, but great actors are few and far between, and most need a bit of help. I am also a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to 'old' theatre; yes, Shakespearean costumes say 'old' to me, but since I know that he wrote his works a long time ago, it feels more natural to see them in 'old' dress than new. I would rather make the trip to see him, than expect him to make the trip forward to see me. But we're all different!


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#4115 Zixi

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 15:34

I'm afraid that 'modern' interpretations of classical theatre drive me to despair. And, as I say, I suspect I'm more tolerant over music because I'm much more ignorant about it... But then, I'd be more tolerant of a school production of Shakespeare cutting and interpreting than I would if the RSC did the same thing... :lol:


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#4116 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 09:04

I wonder if language (and maybe general familiarity) comes into it?  I tend to find modern Shakespeare irritating: there is something jarring about someone wearing jeans whilst declaiming Elizabethan English in iambic pentameter.  With opera, I don't get that feeling, partly because there is always something artificial about sung text, and partly because I have no sense that Don Giovanni, say, is speaking Italian that would sound rather strange to modern ears.  I give DG as a specific example because I have seen it performed in a modern setting, which wouldn't have been my first choice before I went, but it was a great performance and  I enjoyed it very much.  I've seen a couple of other performances and  I suppose the costume was "vaguely historic" but, whereas I have a fairly clear - even if inaccurate - picture of Elizabethan dress, I have no idea whatsoever what an 18th century Italian pretending to be an earlier Spaniard ought to look like, so no boundaries are crossed.  Perhaps, too, it helps that opera is fundamentally fairly daft!


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#4117 Zixi

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 11:07

I don't know... it sounds plausible. I know more about drama than I do opera and I do have to admit that while I prefer "vaguely historic" costume, modern costume doesn't upset me as much at the opera as it does at a play. But then I prefer my Elizabethan drama with an all-male cast - the jokes are funnier - and sometimes it just has to be at The Globe because again, the puns are more effective. There's something about an actor saying: "in this distracted globe" in The Globe rather than anywhere else - especially if a plane just goes over...  :lol: 

 

I've somehow been reminded of someone I took to a Sibelius concert - afterwards they said, they'd prefer something else - perhaps opera - because there would be more of a spectacle... I'm still bemused by that... :blink:


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#4118 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 09:55

I've somehow been reminded of someone I took to a Sibelius concert - afterwards they said, they'd prefer something else - perhaps opera - because there would be more of a spectacle... I'm still bemused by that... :blink:

 

I love the spectacle of a large orchestra: all those string players sawing away in unison, much more satisfying than, say, Aida.


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