Saturday, August 20, 2011

Simon Callow Makes an Argument For Opera's Current Vitality

The actor contemplates a centuries old art form.
(Photo: Sasha Ilyukevich/The Guardian)
"It is easy, in a sense, for opera to bend existing works for the purposes of interpretation or exploration, but in the past decade or two, composers have thrillingly taken the great leap into the present. Anna Nicole, the story of the doomed Playboy model, at the Royal Opera House, and Two Boys, English National Opera's tale of a chatroom murder, could only have been written now, at this moment in time; the musical and theatrical vocabulary is accessible to anyone alive today....I was 15 when I saw my first: Il Trittico, Puccini's great triple bill of one-act operas, at the Royal Opera House. I paid 12s/6d for my ticket in the slips and was overwhelmed – not just by the dramatic power of the music, the richness of the orchestral playing, the beauty of the singing and the spectacular impact of the production, all of which I had expected – but by the greatness of the acting, which I had not. The leading singer was Tito Gobbi, in two out of the three pieces. His piercing pain and comic bravura were as fine as any acted performance in any medium I've ever seen. Today Jonas Kaufmann and Natalie Dessay and Thomas Allen are every bit his equal." [Source]

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