By Sir Denis Forman
This a little irreverent advisor to opera summarizes the plots of 17 of the world's nice operas, together with Aida, l. a. Boheme, and Carmen, and describes their characters, artists, and composers.
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Extra info for A Night at the Opera: An Irreverent Guide to the Plots, the Singers, the Composers, the Recordings
But we are free to relax and enjoy the music as it comes without any struggle. Then there is the orchestration, as clear as spring water, for to hear Adriana after one of the other late Italians – Gioconda, Cav or Chénier – is like clearing the palate with a Rimsky-Korsakov sorbet after a big helping of brown stew from Brahms. A glorious orchestrator who can also, when called upon, write the big tune. Although melodic inspiration does not irrigate the whole system all the time, as it does with Puccini, there is enough to give satisfaction.
Both first nights went well but the notices were what are called mixed, which, being interpreted, means bad. The critics thought Aida old-fashioned, a sort of grand opera seria. Verdi, like most composers, was paranoid about critics (’stupid objections and even stupider praise’), but he needn’t have worried – no one need ever worry about the critics, for it is the public that has the last word – and Aida immediately became a huge success and has stayed at the top ever since, probably lying fourth after Verdi’s pop three, Rig, Trov and Trav.
Meanwhile Michonnet goes and opens the fridge but it’s too dark to recognize the occupant. He closes the fridge. Now the Abbé proposes getting candles and opening the fridge. Adriana interposes, as instructed. The Abbé goes off to get the Prince: Michonnet stands guard. Adriana blows out the candles and opens the fridge and the Princess jumps out. What now? she says. Escape! says Adriana. All exits are blocked says the Princess. Here’s a secret key says Adriana. Get out. Who are you? asks the Princess.
A Night at the Opera: An Irreverent Guide to the Plots, the Singers, the Composers, the Recordings by Sir Denis Forman