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Giacomo Puccini

Friday, July 1, 2016


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

June 14

Just in: John Adams’ next opera will be Puccini soundalike

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discSan Francisco Opera has lifted the lid on its next world premiere. It almost shares a title with a Puccini opera. Homage, or brand blurring? San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company will present the world premiere commission of Girls of the Golden West, an opera set during the 1850s California Gold Rush, by the internationally-renowned team of composer John Adams and director/librettist Peter Sellars. Presented at the War Memorial Opera House for seven performances opening November 2017, San Francisco Opera will announce casting, conductor, design team and ticket information in January 2017 as part of the Company’s 2017–18 repertory season. Joining San Francisco Opera as co-commissioners and co-producers of this new project are The Dallas Opera, Amsterdam’s Dutch National Opera (De Nationale Opera) and Teatro La Fenice, Venice. Girls of the Golden West is presented by arrangement with Hendon Music, Inc., a Boosey & Hawkes company, publisher and copyright owner. Comprising two acts and sung in English, Girls of the Golden West is scored for eight characters, men’s chorus and orchestra including musicians on guitar, accordion and piano. The libretto by Peter Sellars, who also directs the opera, is drawn from historical sources and interweaves stories of three Gold Rush women whose lives intersected in a small mining community in the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1850. The opera is based on factual events and persons that typify the mix of wildness, optimism, greed, violence, humor and racial prejudice of the era, all played out against the rugged beauty of California’s mountain surroundings. Read more here.

On An Overgrown Path

Yesterday

The composer with a thousand faces

Kevin Scott has added this as a comment to my article about Havergal Brian, but it deserves a post to itself: No doubt that Havergal Brian has been, shall we say, "hyped" up, but in spite of all of this, bear in mind that many of Brian's symphonies have yet to be heard in this country. I should note that Bernard Herrmann was the first American conductor to perform anything of Brian's, and that was his Doctor Merryheart Overture with the CBS Symphony in the mid-1930s when Brian was practically unknown in this country. I'm sure Herrmann was familiar with some of the early symphonies, especially when he made frequent visits to England in the 1930s and 1940s, which I feel inspired, in part, his scores to the movies "Mysterious Island" and parts of "The Battle of Neretva". That said, it would be nice if an enterprising conductor took on Brian's early symphonies, such as the epic Third with its two concertante pianos, the gargantuan fourth symphony that was inspired, in part, by Brahms' rarely-heard Triumphlied, the dark and beautiful fifth symphony for baritone and orchestra whose setting of Lord Alfred Douglas' "Wine of Summer" is very moving, the dramatic and tempestuous one-movement "Sinfonia Tragica", and the passionate and thrilling seventh symphony, his most approachable large-scale symphony, apart from his boisterous twenty-fifth symphony that is part of the wave of the later symphonies he composed in his eighties and early nineties. Ditto the cello concerto and the Concerto for Orchestra, as well as his operas "The Cenci" and his own take on "Turandot," which I am sure is far and away different not only from Puccini's, but also Busoni's version as well. I doubt if we'll ever see "The Tigers" get mounted, but if any American orchestra or conductor wants to make a name for him/herself, they should program the "Gothic," not because it's a curiosity piece, but because they truly believe in the work's power and magnitude, structural deficiencies aside. That the press and everyone else wants to hype it up is bad enough, but a committed performance from all forces that are martialed together to bring it to the public will negate the over-excitement of the press, because it is the commitment to the music that will, in the end, win the audience over to Brian's vision.In my original post I described how "the Havergal Brian mythology is celebrated and has become a pseudo-event in its right". That resonated for me with Joseph Campbell’s seminal book on the importance of mythic traditions The Hero with a Thousand Faces. So I toyed with the title The composer with a thousand faces for that post, but it did not link to the sub-agenda of pseudo-events. So I am grateful that Kevin's erudite and thoughtful comment now allows me to use that rejected title. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.






Giacomo Puccini
(1858 – 1924)

Giacomo Puccini (22 December 1858 - 29 November 1924) was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. Some of his arias, such as "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi, "Che gelida manina" from La bohème, and "Nessun dorma" from Turandot, have become part of popular culture.



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