Posts Tagged ‘Collateral effects’

Similitudes, by Sonia Arienta

Opera has been for a long time contempted and valued a second place gender by a certain old current of musicologists, because of supposed incapacity, or lack of elegance, of taste and skilfulness in orchestration of its composers. Whereas, it was instead the short-sightedness of the academics too much academic, very theoretical and too little practical which neglected and ignored the performance’s needs, which judged librettos nonsensical blotters. As if the last ones should be used and considered like plays self-sufficient, or destined to silent reading like a novel, instead of be esteemed only in order to their unavoidable relation with the music composed for a theatrical performance.
On the other hand, the users exclusively patronising popular music judge opera, or classical music, something of particularly reactionary, old fashioned and boring, persuaded that the encouragement to the novelty and to the rebellion is a prerogative of their favourite gender…
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Characters and audience – II, by Sonia Arienta

In an opera construction, the importance of the choice of the subject, of characters is an unavoidable element in understanding the message and the world vision proposed by the composer to his audience. But in too many examples, it takes second place in the thoughts, either by “simple” spectators, or specialists. Notwithstanding the different reasons. Melodic lines, harmonic and rhythmic structures, orchestration, beyond the considerations of poetics and aesthetic values, are functional to performance a story, a “sung” tale. With effects and consequences that the last one has at emotional and intellectual level for audience. All essential elements to invite spectators to make themselves questions not only about the opera, the poetic and aesthetic preferences of composer, but about his lecture of the world. Especially in order to the contemporary interpretation of repertoire melodramas it is always necessary to consider the coexistence of two levels: the reactions searched and obtained by composer towards audience contemporary to him; the ones shown to the nowadays audience…
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Characters and audience – I

Plot and characters behaviours choices, pointed out by te music of operists endowed of a critical mind, open neverendig cues about the effects towards the contemporary and the past audience, fundamental to understand relations between artistic productions and their utilizations. If listening Ernani, Il Trovatore, or La Forza del Destino, makes impossible to cultivate sloth, or to feel servants, the Il Barbiere di Siviglia happy end is doubly satisfying because the Conte di Almaviva and Rosina engagement is flanked by the old, very mean Dr. Bartolo humiliation, caused by the lost of his ward’s dowry. In Don Pasquale, Norina and Ernesto triumph over the old uncle tortured and derided, but as a matter of fact, they seem to be avoided of generous gestures. Ernesto is a-good-for-nothing, Norina shows herself more as interfering than in loved girl. The punishment of the obese protagonist in Verdi’s Falstaff executed by the merry wives bunch of Windsor provokes a regret and trouble in the spectator, prompted until this moment to see the old Sir with mercy and pity, if not with benevolence.
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Questions, by Sonia Arienta

In the order of cultural politics concerning theatre and, especially the operatic one, it seems interesting to ask ourselves what are the choices taken by the institutions at national and local level. What are the ideas, the concepts, the peculiar leading lines of certain historic age and a certain political contexts. What kind of consequences they involve in a long period perspective. What kind of interferences, impulses, obstacles, supports, difficulties spring out between cultural operators and institutions. What may indicate the negligence and the general indifference shown towards vital sector for the intellectual development of a Country and in the individual ones. In the social relations, in the evolution and in the improvement of every citizen. It should be suitable that everyone thinks about the offers of cultural products available in the area and in the Country where he lives.
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Inheritance, by Sonia Arienta

Knowledge and aware utilisation of an opera by the most high number of spectators must be considered a very important goal in cultural politic organisation of a State, like Italy, exactly because this musical genre had a primary role in the building of national identity. Above all, before the same construction of italian state.
As of right, the interest towards operatic theatre should take part in the main cares of ministers of our Republic, at least as all the other most important productive resources of the Country and generally of “made in Italy”. As well as miles of painted canvas, thousands square metres of frescos and painting on wood; many tons of big and little ancient roman stones, etruscan potsherds, Renaissance art style bricks, baroque cornices, books published in the sixteenth century, incunabula and illuminated codexes buried in ours country cellars. Or avalanched in opencast archaeological excavations…
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Means of defence and traumas II, by Sonia Arienta

Did you ever think that when we refer to operatic theatre in Italy our mind immediately runs straight on to two types of approach? The melomaniac one and the “indifferent” one. The last includes he who feels oneself ignorant, inadequate in this field thanks to one’s own choice or to an imposition due to a cultural lack produced by a deficit in national cultural politics. Behind the indifference of such a potential audience it’s often easy to find an awe towards the score pages. Towards all that belongs to the misterious world made of staves and notes. Full score too often is felt as a cage where the spectator fears of to be caught in, just in reason of the incapability of reading it, victim of the musical illiteracy imposed and decreeted from above. Towards operatic music it has been open a campaign of methodical displacement and disinformation…
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Means of defence and traumas I

It would be suitable to ask oneself what kind of perception towards operatic theatre has he who doesn’t know it and feels it alien and strange, or decidly boring or unnecessary. Unprofitable like every product extimeed inable of moving a large fluxus of money. Useless like one of these “good things of bad taste” inherited from a great-hunt, which its possession it would be better to made without. Or, strange and impenetrable as the hieroglyphics of an ancient Egyptian obelisk. A product remote in the time, particularly used by a limitate number of monomaniac iniziates, devoted to cultural archaeology and palaeontology and observed in the best of the chances with a benevolent smile of pity. In force of this fact they are judged carriers of a rare desease, not infectious, but obstinated in cultivating old and eccentric practices.
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Anaesthesia II, by Sonia Arienta

The top of spectacularity in Aida and Don Carlos is set in two places: respectively in the Tebe’s entrance (Finale II), in the Valladolid’s big square (Finale III). Both of them coincide with the middle of the opera dramatic-musical sequence, and both are public open places, crowded with presences. Whether the “triumph” scene, or the “Autodafé” one constitute an impressive, theatrical epiphany of the power, fit to describe the apparatus and the machines used by the last one, in order to express its arrogance. Musical horror vacui of these pages, graphically supported by the density of notes, staves for voices and instruments in the full score and the display of magnificence express with theatrical tools a critic towards the power. They are so different from the complacency for redudancy, from a wanton show of sounds. They rather stress autocelebration of power and its rhetoric which Verdi criticizes and points out it, thanks to awareness with he utilizes grand-opéra’s patterns.
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Anaesthesia, by Sonia Arienta

In an ill cultural system, audience anaesthesia becomes the unconscious or conscious “mission” towards embarrassing operas or even towards a genre (melodrama in this example). They are both “guilty”, infact, for encouraging questions and stimulating thoughts. In such a situation we can recognise, then, some choices involving set design and direction. So, this kinds of stage productions tame awkward contents with an involutional way, where also the space appears poor in value and meaning. Such a “destiny” we can especially see in work like La Traviata, often characterised by a glittered and silky packaging, or Aida, afflicted by stage productions obeying to an exoticism made of peacock’s feathers and Egyptology of papier-mâché. So, for instance, in the first example, we can see a generous number of stage productions where the two feasts in Violetta’s home and in Flora’s palace are used as a cue for a pleasant, high society sets, fit to nurse acritical and passive spectators…
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Linus blanket, by Sonia Arienta

From a visual point of view, set design is the most important attraction for the average audience in a stage production. So, we can see different manners of misappropriation towards “embarrassing” operas and genre (melodrama), when cultural politics point to anaesthetize them.

Reassuring” stage productions which “protect” especially the italian Nineteenth century masterpieces from modernity contamination apparently repeat the primary functions of a wrapping (the protective one precisely). As a matter of fact, they alter the message reception. They embalm the former artistic productions in a case, where even the most destabilising specimen preserves the danger of a tropical arachnid slept behind a terrarium glass. To make Opera a museum piece of, or to banalize it with apparently “modern” stage production, it moves away audience, especially joung people, already penalised by educational programming that cuts away a musical teaching…
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