Germy retracts

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Modern opera is not that cool. It seems most modern operatic composers want to create "exciting" and "different" and "modern" sounds in their melodies. The truth is that (in my opinion) what comes out is just plain weird. A bunch of odd, dissonant noises that have no real relation to each other.

I recently (illegally) downloaded the original cast recording of The Light in the Piazza. It just won the Tony for Best Musical, so expectations were high. Even though it's playing on Broadway, it is definitely a modern opera disguised as a Broadway musical. Though this score is not completely "modernly operatic", it certainly has its weird-ass moments.

The composer, Adam Guettel, is the grandson of Richard Rodgers, the person responsible for those quintessential Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tunes. Young Adam must HATE those songs because he tries everything possible not to fall into his grand daddy's footsteps. Sheesh.

Still, I have to admit it has a few very handsome melodies. My favorite parts are the first and last song and the title tune. The first song, called "Stories and Statues", is a very sophisticated peppy and cheery opening number where the mother and daughter arrive in Florence, Italy as tourists. It's quite pretty actually. Other highlights are the courting waltz "Passegiatta" and the title tune. The final song is an excellent aria by the mother ("Fable)"; it's a lovely and complex melody (and by complex I mean pretty and unexpected, not just plain weird); it's first introduced as a brief lullaby but in the finale is used to talk about how love is a fake, a "Fable". Quite elegant and passionate at the same time.

I certainly recommend listening to this CD, at least to have a glimpse of what a musical can be (in terms of serious subject matter and beauty of lyrics). Who knows, if you have a very good musical memory, you might actually be able to hum some of he tunes... that is, after vocalzing and only if you can reach A flat above high C!! Haha!

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