A confession–I don't like opera. Sorry. I know it's great and all, but it's not for me. I like my drama more dramatic (like in plays, where I can suspend a little disbelief). I like my music a little less epic. Oh, I also really don't like vocal-vibrato. Maybe that's why.
But–a bevy of news stories I read this morning might get me more familiar with opera in the near future:
First, Charles Wuorinen, a composer everyone should know better but doesn't, has been commissioned by the New York Opera Company to premiere a work in 2013. The work, you ask?: none other than the famous short story and much more famous movie Brokeback Mountain. It's a pretty good story (the paper version) and Wourinen is a great composer. Perhaps that opera will be a wonderful coupling. I can only hope that this is the sort of thing that might bring a different kind of audience to the house. This opera is not just for the devoted queen, but rather for the millions that saw and enjoyed the movie.
Besides, it will certainly be better than the last movie-to-opera crossover I saw.
Second, a behind the scenes movie was just released, Wonders are Many: The Making of Doctor Atomic. I said I dislike opera, but Nixon in China and Death of Klinghoffer are exceptions. In fact, I almost saw Doctor Atomic until tragic fate intervened. I have since then heard the work on the radio. And now I get to see the behind the scenes DVD. It looks to be a doc of serious import with substantial interviews. The NYTimes review quotes some very quotable material I want to lift for a paper: "The British-born American physicist Freeman Dyson, one of the film’s most articulate talking heads, explains that science and art express the same urge to 'take the watch apart to see how it works.'”
Third, Wagner. What Opera post would be complete with a mention of ol' Richard. I have a love-hate relationship with him. Lots of people love him. I hate him.
I have a hard time sitting through a 2 hour movie or concert. I really like things that come in hour long packages or less. Mahler symphonies and Music for 18 Musicians are the limit.
I'm therefore ashamed to only find out today that a version of The Ring exists which caters directly to my inadequate attention span. In 1987, Lorin Maazel premiered his "Ring without Words," a 75 minute long take on the monstrous thing. Some might be dismayed that "situations that unfold inexorably over an hour or more in the opera house just pop into view here," as "it is jolting to cruise from the arpeggiated proto-Minimalism of the 'Prelude to the Ride of the Valkyries' in less than half an hour." Less than half an hour? Thank you, Mr. Maazel.
What I've read of it is positive and so I'm on a mission to hear this version of Wagner I might actually enjoy. Plus, no vocal-vibrato. If more opera could do that, I might become a regular fan.