Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reflection (Week #7)

I was thoroughly disappointed with today's presenter. I disagree entirely with his claim that the music is secondary to the words in opera. It is the music that makes opera, opera! It's what differentiates opera from other styles of musical theater. Although there are a few individuals that agree with his point of view, the large majority of not only opera critics but opera goers enjoy opera for the unique role music plays. Not only does the music provide ambiance to a work, it provides the emotion. The continuous nature of opera music is also what makes an opera not only unique, but genius. The ability of a good opera writer to make the music feel as though it is all part of a single work is a skill that should be admired, not talked about as though it is secondary to the work of the librettist! In fact, often opera composers, including Richard Strauss, will take predetermined rhythms and chord structures to their librettist, and in some cases even write the entire musical accompaniment to an opera before even speaking a word to their librettist. It is the music and the writer's use of tension and the placement of the arias and recitatives within the opera that turns an opera into the emotional, dramatic roller coaster that tends to define it, which is why many composers agree that “the job of music is to get to the hearts of people, and the words to get to the brain” (Craig Armstrong). The music is the glue that binds together the words and action to create the full, rounded experience of witnessing an opera, which is why music can be what sends an opera into the history books to join the ranks of “Salome” or sink it into the ranks of the most unmemorable operas ever written. However, all of this is simply an opinion, so I encourage everyone to make their own on Tuesday. Just please be sure, do not ignore what the music is adding to the performance you are witnessing!

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