Operagasm Review Rundown: A Night at the Opera’ at the Library of Congress’
by Christie Connolley
Anne Midgette of the Washington Post reviews the exhibition on opera at the Library of Congress! GO!!!!
Know your audience: ”When you’re making an introductory video for an exhibition about opera, you can show clips of great singers in performance: Callas, Bjoerling, Corelli. Or you can show a clip of the Three Stooges lip-synching to the sextet from “Lucia di Lammermoor.” The first might be a better representation of the greatness of opera. The second, though, may be a better reflection of most people’s frame of reference for opera — along with the Marx Brothers and, of course, Bugs Bunny.”
The Epcot Center of Opera?: “A Night at the Opera” is meant at least in part as a nod to opera’s populist side. Rather than a show about opera in the Platonic sense, it’s conceived as a show about opera’s image, and the way people have experienced going to the opera, over the years. This, at least, is the intention of its curators, Raymond A. White and James E. Wintle, though they also wanted to make sure to touch on opera in every country (Germany and Austria and Italy, but also France, Russia and the United States). The latter goal is easier than the former, given that their scope is restricted to objects on paper: relics of opera rather than the living, breathing, rivers-of-sound-at-the-top-of-your-lungs art.”
DIY Opera (literally): “In the 18th and 19th centuries, before the advent of recording, if you wanted to hear an opera, you played it at home, on your keyboard, yourself. Piano-vocal scores (as opposed to the full orchestral score used by a conductor) were not the province of professional singers, but of the general audience. Thus the show’s inclusion of several such scores, such as the first edition of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” printed in 1787. For today’s general audience, not necessarily music readers and not able, in an exhibition, to turn the pages for themselves, the main focus of such scores is the illustration on the title page: in this early conception, the youthful Giovanni being collared by the Commendatore looks more like a naughty schoolboy than the Latin lover he later became in the minds of aficionados.”
Check out the full review here….