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Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Luck of the Lerchenaus

According to Sir Denis Forman - why is that name so familiar to me? - according to Sir Denis Forman in A Night at the Opera:

(Der Rosenkavalier)

Richard Strauss

The one where a field Marshall's wife sends her lover to assist in the wedding of her cousin with the unforseen result that he falls in love with the cousin's bride and she loses him.

Even if you do not like opera but still need to hold your own at bourgeoise "dinner pahty's" where some fat braggarty-mouth is sure to domineer all conversation with squeals about the coloratura this or attentivo that, and where anyone else who ventures an opinion is met with Harrumphs! and P'tahs! and riduculed by so clearly superior an intelligence; even if you can't stand the thought of opera, you ought to arm yourself with a copy of this book. True, it won't fit into your back pocket, but with a little coercion and finagling it ought to fit just unto your man-purse? When conversation turns inexorably, make your excuses and off to powder your nose.

I'm not very good at the counting, but my estimate is of one-to-two hundred entries in this marvellous encyclopaedia. Each entry is devoted to a single opera, formed into the following parts:
  1. Instant Summary: perhaps its most valuable contribution, a short paragraph beginning "The one where...";

  2. Dramatis Personae: who is in it

  3. Detailed plot, an act-by-act resumé that describes the machinations in great detail;

  4. Look Out For: an excellent list of the good bits, complete with minutes into the act or scene and stars;
    55:Hab'mir's gelobt The glorious soprano trio.*** This is a great operatic event on a par with the quartet in Fidelio or the Meistersinger quintet...

  5. Notes: general bric-à-brac (now who among you, honestly, would ever drop bric-à-brac into their daily conversation?);

  6. News and Gossip: your indispensable dinner party savior - all the gossip surrounding the original production;
    Strauss wanted to write a comedy after Salome but got stuck into Elektra instead which has no laughs in it whatsoever.

  7. Comments: Forman's utterly partisan comments on the piece. He likes it, he loathes it, you'll know - but always well-written regardless.
    ...But taken altogether, Rosenkavalier is something of a phenomenon, and also probably the most popular opera written in the twentieth century. Alpha.

I was not in any way, shape, or form disappointed by Saturday night's Rosenkavalier in Los Angeles. And neither was my Goddess, praise be, whose crest had fallen way low earlier in the day when I broke the news to her it would be four hours long.

Pop quiz, just for fun.

  1. The one where a call-girl is a social embarassment to her lover's family so she gives him up, her golden heart is broken and she succumbs to terminal TB.

  2. The one where the Count and the page hide behind the same chair, where the Countess' maid makes a surprise exit from a closet and where XXX discovers the woman who wants to marry him is his mother.

  3. The one where XXXX makes new friends who stab him in the back, where YÜYY is very brave and VVVV goes up in flames.

  4. The one with the prisoner's chorus and where a woman disguised as a prison worker liberates her husband and strikes a blow for freedom, feminism and prison reform;

  5. The one with a disagreeable town clerk, a noble cobbler, a street brawl and a prize song.


Blogger DarkoV said...

Pop Quiz:
No clue about most of them. But, I know the answer to #3 has to be.... "My first marriage". Didn't realize that an opera was done about yours truly, XXXX. Was I given any memorable arais to belt out? Or did they all sound canine and whony?

8:54 AM  
Blogger F.C. Bearded said...

You were allowed to tell a story round a campfire. Then they killed you with a spear.

You were given a fine Funeral March afterwards that made it to the movie Excalibur, which was about something else.

Your ex-, though, to continue the analogy, was so pissed she walked herself and her pony into a fire.

Isn't a real quiz: just wanted to quote some of the summaries from the book.Maybe I'll put linkys, later?

9:04 AM  

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