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WHAT IS AMERICAN OPERA?

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Samantha Gambaccini

on 3 May 2010

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Transcript of WHAT IS AMERICAN OPERA?

WHAT IS AMERICAN OPERA? WELCOME TO LECTURE RECITAL LEAD BY SAMANTHA GAMBACCINI MAY 4, 2010 MISSION ...A HISTORY LESSON! POLLING DEAD MAN WALKING LITTLE WOMEN THE ASPERN PAPERS to discover what the genre of american opera is all about
to spark an interest in you, the audience, to uncover opera
Diana Damrau as "Lucia di Lammermoor" BUT FIRST... CONCLUSION ITALIAN OPERA GERMAN OPERA FRENCH OPERA CHINESE OPERA ITALIAN OPERA monteverdi
rossini
donizetti
puccini BEL CANTO
OPERA SERIA
OPERA BUFFA
DA CAPO german opera mozart
beethoven
strauss wagnerian opera Gesamtkunstwerk
"a complete work of art" Born around 1600 from POLYPHONY
came MONOPHONY, a dramatic retelling
using the music as well as the text to convey the action and subsequent emotions. "DAFNE"
by Jacopo Peri
(First known composed opera) "ORFEO"
by Claudio Monteverdi
(First known performed opera, 1607) FRENCH OPERA rameau
poulenc
bizet
berlioz OPERA COMIQUE
GRAND OPERA
BALLET chinese opera beijing opera/
peking opera miming
puppetry
acrobatics TRAINING FROM A YOUNG AGE
predetermined roles
UNIQUE VOCAL PRODUCTION WHAT AM I WORKING WITH? HOW? A LECTURE RECITAL! LISTENED TO AMERICAN OPERAS MUSICAL STYLE
SOUND
CONTEXT IN OUR COUNTRY
ORIGIN OF STORIES
FORMED A REALISTIC RECITAL PROGRAM "AN INTRODUCTION"
RELYING ON PEERS AND PROFESSIONALS surveyed over 75 millikin students
all ages/majors
Two different surveys

DISCOVERIES: HARDLY ANYONE IS LISTENING TO OPERA. ...EVEN THE OPERA MAJORS. When did you find a love for listening to or performing opera? If you don’t love opera, what prevents you from enjoying it more?
"I began to appreciate opera and other classical genres
around my sophomore year of high school."

Out of the following, what is your favorite aspect of Opera: the music, sets, lights, costumes, or drama?
"I love the music. I feel like singing opera is so free and
expressive."

Do you listen to a lot of operas in your spare time?
"I don't listen to much opera. I've been planning on
beefing up my library but not yet."
Merriam-Webster definitions: OPERA 1: a drama set to music and made up of vocal pieces with orchestral accompaniment and orchestral overtures and interludes
2: the score of a musical drama a film or theatrical production typically of a sentimental or
humorous nature that consists of musical numbers and dialogue
based on a unifying plot MUSICAL So, an opera is a type of musical! GUEST SPEAKER: MILLIKIN STUDENT MICHAEL CRUSE Performed in professional operas
American opera credits: AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS
THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE 1. In your extensive work with Opera Illinois over the years, did you ever learn anything about the board's decision to perform
American operas? Were their specific reasons for their choices?

2. Did you notice any different approaches that the musical or theatrical directors took to guiding the performers on the American operas?

3. Because these operas were in English, did you notice any difference in the audience or their reactions?

4. From your experience, where do you think America has taken the genre of opera? I asked Michael... Novel published 1888 by Henry James (1843-1916)
"The Lost Moment" 1947 Universal Pictures film based on the story
Broadway play 1962


2010 Film directed by Mariana Hellmund Act 1 Scene 4, Noon, late summer day, 1835
Jeffrey Aspern (Debuted role by Neil Rosenshein)
Dominick Argento's opera debuted 1988 by The Dallas Opera “I Will Forever be Obliged to Her” Performed by Nicholas Ertsgaard
1899 Thomas Hardy poem "The Dead Man Walking"
1993 Book by Sister Helen Prejean
1995 Movie starring Susan Sarandon & Sean Penn
—A Troubadour-youth I rambled
With Life for lyre,
The beats of being raging
In me like a fire.

But when I practised eyeing
The goal of men,
It iced me, and I perished
A little then.

When passed my friend, my kinsfolk
Through the last Door,
And left me standing bleakly,
I died yet more; And when my Love’s heart kindled
In hate of me,
Wherefore I knew not, died I
One more degree.

And if when I died fully
I cannot say,
And changed into the corpse-thing
I am to-day.

Yet is it that, though whiling
The time somehow
In walking, talking, smiling,
I live not now.
Excerpt from "The Dead Man Walking"
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) Real account: Elmo Patrick Sonnier (Pat)
Movie: Matthew Poncelet (Matt)
Opera: Joseph De Rocher (Joe)
Act 2, Scene 4
Joe’s Mother (Mrs. Patrick De Rocher)
(Debut role by Frederica von Stade)
"Don't Say A Word" Performed by Dr. Hadi Gibbons Act 2, Scene 4
Sister Helen (Debut role by Susan Graham) “Who Will Walk With Me?” Performed by Professor Ann Borders 2000 Jake Heggie opera premiers with San Francisco Opera Books: "Little Women" & "Good Wives" (1868-1869)
by Louisa May Alcott 1933 Film: Katharine Hepburn as Jo
1949 Film: June Allyson as Jo
1994 Film: Winona Rider as Jo, Susan Sarandon as Marmee


2005 "March" story: a "fill-in-the-blanks" book by Geraldine Brooks
2005 Broadway Musical by Jason Howland: Sutton Foster as Jo 1998 Opera by Mark Adamo debuted by Houston Grand Opera "Things Change" "Perfect As We Are" Performed by Adam Miller & Samantha Gambaccini Act I, Scene iii Duet
Laurie &Joe
Debuted Roles: Jo by Stephanie Novacek
& Laurie by Chad Shelton Act I, Scene i
Jo Performed by Samantha Gambaccini THANK YOU! Now...
GO OUT AND LISTEN! AMERICAN OPERA is a heightened, difficult genre to understand.
lack of exposure increases misunderstanding.
Attributes of american opera Growing 20th-Century sound
Through-composed, like a book
Difficult to excerpt A new outlet for timeless, classic American stories.
A fresh means of communicating opinions and news.
Ever-expanding tonal structures to bring themes and characters to life.
A different "voice" -- literally -- to aid in the understanding of famous literary and political characters.
Attributes of American Opera "'Shall you bring the money in gold?' Miss Bordereau demanded, as I was turning to the door.
I looked at her a moment. 'Aren't you a little afraid, after all, of keeping such a sum as that in the house?' It was not that I was annoyed at her avidity but I was really struck with the disparity between such a treasure and such scanty means of guarding it.
'Whom should I be afraid of if I am not afraid of you?' she asked with her shrunken grimness."
"The Aspern Papers" (James 41) "'It is simply that they would be of such immense interest to the public, such immeasurable importance as a contribution to Jeffrey Aspern's history.'
She listened to me in her usual manner, as if my speech were full of reference to things she had never heard of, and I felt particularly like the reporter of a newspaper who forces his way into a house of mourning. This was especially the case when after a moment she said, 'There was a gentleman who some time ago wrote to her in very much those words. He also wanted her papers.'
'And did she answer him?' I asked, rather ashamed of myself for not having her rectitude.
'Only when he had written two or three times. He made her very angry.'
'And what did she say?'
'She said he was a devil,' Miss Tita replied, simply." "The Aspern Papers" (James 80) "He says, 'If only I knew I'd die right away when the first jolt hits me. Will I feel it? They say the body burns. (Later, his death certificate will record that death took four to five minutes.) My poor mother...'
Yes, his poor mother. She had been raised by her grandmother, lived out in the middle of cane fields, and at a young age had married an older man. The marriage had brought a trail of sorrows, no companionship, just poverty. Once, Eddie, her 'baby,' had cried for two days and two nights with a toothache because she had no money for a dentist. And then had come the ultimate tragedy--her sons' terrible deed, the trial, the sentencing. She did not come much to Angola, but when her sons were awaiting trial in the parish jail close to home, she had brought them home cooking. She had earned money by sitting at night with an elderly sick man so she could get them cigarettes and warm winter clothes. But she has been able to visit death row only once or twice. It makes her ill to see her son here." "dead man walking" (prejean 37-38) "'What's she typing?' I whisper to Rabelais.
'Forms for the witness to sign,' he says.
The large aluminum coffee pot is percolating a fresh batch of coffee.
I see that someone has put a white tablecloth on a table and has placed ballpoint pens in the center of the table.
I go into the rest room. A few precious moments of privacy. I look at the sparkling tiled walls, the clean white fixtures, ample soap, paper towels. Everything is so clean. I keep feeling as if I'm in a hospital, the cleanliness, attendants following a protocol...Oh Jesus God, help me, help me, please, and I harness all my energies, I gather myself inside like someone who pulls her coat tight around her in a strong wind."
"DEAD MAN WALKING" (PREJEAN 87-88) "And now for the first time I know surely that he's going to die. I look at my watch. It is 8:40.
I go to Captain Rabelais and ask to make a couple of phone calls. I call the Sisters to ask them to pray, and I call my mother to let her know I am okay and to ask her to pray.
I go back to the visitor door. The guard inside is putting the shackles on Pat's hands and feet inside the cell. He opens the cell door and Pat comes over to the metal folding chair by the door. As he approaches the chair his legs sag and he drops to one knee beside the chair. He looks up at me. 'Sister Helen, I'm going to die.'
My soul rushes toward him. I am standing with my hands against the mesh screen, as close as I can get to him. I pray and ask God to comfort him, cushion him, wrap him round, give him courage to face death, to step across the river, to die with love. The words are pouring from me." "DEAD MAN WALKING" (prejean 88) "'Don't be alarmed. I'm not one of the agreeable sort. Nobody will want me, and it's a mercy, for there should always be one old maid in a family.'
'You won't give anyone a chance,' said Laurie, with a sidelong glance and a little more color than before in his sunburnt face. 'You won't show the soft side of your character, and if a fellow gets a peep at it by accident, and can't help showing that he likes it, you treat him as Mrs. Gummidge did her sweetheart--throw cold water over him--and get so thorny no one dares touch or look at you.'" "LITTLE WOMEN" (alcott 299-300) "'I don't like that sort of thing. I'm too busy to be worried with nonsense, and I think it's dreadful to break up families so. Now don't say any more about it. Meg's wedding has turned all our heads, and we talk of nothing but lovers and such absurdities. I don't wish to get cross, so let's chance the subject.' And Jo looked quite ready to fling cold water on the slightest provocation." "LITTLE WOMEN" (ALCOTT 300) "LITTLE WOMEN, that indispensable chronicle of growing up female in post-Civil War NewEngland, has most often materialized on screen (and, less successfully, onstage) as the romance of a free-spirited young writer torn between the boy next door and a man of the world. Closer reading of Louisa May Alcott's novel suggested to me a deeper theme: that even those we love will, in all innocence, wound and abandon us until we learn that their destinies are not ours to control. So I shaped a libretto in which Jo's love for her sisters regained the power it wielded in the original novel; and imagined a finale in which Jo at last accepts that even sincerest love and strongest will cannot stave off change and loss." MARK ADAMO, COMPOSER'S NOTE "This long solo, which portrays Jo's divided feelings by disrupting her long-lined F-major cantilena with careening dodecaphonic comedy, best exemplifies what I dreamed for this piece: a music in which even the most unlike materials could fuse into a single music if the ear is sensitive and the design is sound." MARK ADAMO, COMPOSER'S NOTE
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