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Norman Treigle and Marilyn Niska appeared at City Opera (1972). Treigle was phenomenal and Niska was fine. The clip on Floyd is good; right below it was a 1958 excerpt with Treigle that is off the charts and Phyllis Curtain in a cameo. Flawed but unforgettable viewing.
"Emotional" is precisely how I felt this morning upon listening to "The trees on the mountain" from Carlisle Lloyd's "Susannah", performed here by Renée Fleming. The interview with Carlisle Lloyd. was a revelation. To think that the Florida State University - known for football, baseball, dance and circus programs - gave the world this composer and his world-famous opera - amazes me.
This evening I thought I'd listen to the excerpts from "Kat'a Kabanova" by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. I soon realized that these two operas have similar themes, in that both appear to be based on the tragic entanglements of female protagonists, trapped in societies where they have no free agency, are subject to oppressive constraints, and find that the only acceptable way to avoid shame and condemnation is through self-negation or self-destruction.
My initial response to today's aria was so emotional that I decided not to post it on this forum. These powerful reactions to Lloyd's and Janáček's operas caught me by surprise. I am officially, Ayten and Michele, an "emotional" wreck - but in a positive way.
P.S. Mr. Quinn, you led me to the beautiful "Sinfonietta".
Oop! Make that Carlisle Floyd, not Lloyd.
As a fan of VH1's "Behind the Music" and Bravo's "Inside the Actor's Studio", I like how you draw from a combination of both to enhance our opera appreciation. If this proves to be your next level, as you hinted early on, I'm here for it!
YouTube users know that algorithms magically serve up unsought videos based on one's selections. So, I have been listening to different singers, at varying skill levels, perform "The Trees on the Mountain". Renée Fleming remains my winner and still champion, although Kate Royal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U0qm0ajsWk) and Meghan Mahlberg Kilcoyne (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1BV4BCDhRE) held their own!
I also found an old interview with Phyllis Curtin (about whom I knew absolutely nothing until your previous entry). The backstory of how she and Carlisle Floyd met, how they brought "Susannah" to the world, and details on her incredible career, are shared here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL8qTF4a).
So tomorrow I will clear my head of this music, and attempt to celebrate America's sad and fraught 2020 Thanksgiving, with a delicious serving of Maria Callas. Have a Healthy Thanksgiving!
Sometimes YouTube guides my listening choices. Today I opted for a production of "Susannah" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0npKoH3XCEI). Though not as polished as a Renée Fleming, Victoria Hill was credible in the starring role. I didn't always listen closely, but even when I didn't look or understand the vocals, I could feel the drama evolve through the music. Now I know where "The Trees On the Mountain" fits in. The music in the second act was far more interesting than the first as things build up to the climax. This opera can easily be adapted to cross-cultural contexts. The story of a community creating a Jezebel, on which to project its fears of a woman's independence (especially her sexual freedom), is as old as Adam and Eve. Singling out an individual, or a group, for marginalization or oppression is at the dark heart of racism, sexism, ageism and homophobia. By making The Other its witch or bogeyman, ways a community reinforces its identity while acting on its basest human impulses. Despite the tragedy which precipitated it, Susannah stood up for and defended herself. I wonder what a third act might have been. I'll have to write that one in my imagination.
Idle Mind Questions: Are opera and musical theater different? Is "Susannah" more of the latter than the former? Are there any American opera composers who enjoy the kind of respect European audiences have given to some of our famous singers? Finally, as I struggle with the definition and contours of the art form, is the beloved Christmas classic, "Amahl and the Night Visitors" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPAjNu4WW0I), a true opera if there's only one act? Okay, the real world is calling. Backatcha, bye!🙋♀️