First Intermissions: Twenty-One Great Operas Explored, by M. Owen Lee

By M. Owen Lee

Thousands of opera fanatics music in faithfully to the Metropolitan Opera's recognized Saturday radio sequence. one of many program's highlights happens in the course of the first intermission, while invited audio system supply stay, stimulating statement at the opera aired that day. And for the final twelve years some of the most renowned site visitors in this software has been M. Owen Lee, a Catholic priest and classics student, who has emerged as a super and interesting speaker with a present for making opera appropriate to trendy matters. Now, in First Intermissions, Father Lee provides twenty-one of his most interesting radio talks, reading the superior enjoyed operas within the present repertoire, together with masterworks through Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, and Strauss. it is a publication that brims with opera lore, with the affection of good track, and with an abundance of excellent humor. Father Lee writes brilliantly approximately the tune itself, delivering insights into composition that even a beginner can seize and luxuriate in. yet for Father Lee, opera is greater than attractive song. Opera is ready the human , our skill for strong and evil, our subconscious concepts and wakeful activities, our sorrows and our joys, our tales, our myths, and our own triumphs and tragedies. it truly is nice artwork confronting lifestyles head on: the clash among fathers and kids in Verdi, the irreversibility of time in Strauss, or the hunt for self-realization in Wagner. Father Lee brings the true tale of opera to life--great tales that make us see past the plot and believe the tune as a blow to the guts. What additionally moves the reader approximately Father Lee's kind is that it's very intimate, not just sprinkled with own anecdotes (such as saving pennies in Depression-era Detroit to shop for sheet tune from Sears and Roebuck), yet trained all through via his open-hearted reaction to opera's magic. Father Lee's love of opera shines via those items, and his enthusiasm is contagious, sending readers directly to their list collections--or the closest list store--to appreciate once more the marvels of opera. while Father Owen Lee first seemed at the Metropolitan Opera proclaims, he used to be given standards. "I may possibly say whatever I pleased," he remembers, "so lengthy as (1) it used to be immediately intelligible to the little previous girl in Dubuque and the little outdated gentleman in Des Moines and (2) it used to be anything not anyone at any place, of both intercourse or any age, had ever considered before." even if discussing Puccini's los angeles Boheme or Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier or Gounod's Faust, Father Lee continues to be completely unique and consistently in contact with the little previous girl in Dubuque.

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Sample text

A trumpet blows, and Boccanegra enters—the doge come to honor the dead. Actually, he is dying himself, for his former friend Paolo has poisoned him. It is a terrible, slow-working poison, and Boccanegra dies slowly, painfully, but like a great ruler— pardoning, winning pardon, reconciling. And all the while we watch, from the balcony, the lights of the city going out, one by one, till Boccanegra dies himself. The action that passes between those two light-and-darkness scenes may seem confused because it has to condense a sprawling and eventful play traced from a sprawling and eventful time.

So he must find consolation in a surrogate wife, Eboli, though she plays for power, and a surrogate son, Rodrigo, though that young man dares to challenge him on matters of church and state. King Philip tries to love them all, but from none of them does the love he tries to give come back to him. He could almost sing the aria about his wife, "She never loved rne," to any one of the others. Eboli is similarly loving and unloved. Her "don fatale"— that fatal gift, her beauty—is rejected by the others as much as ever is Philip's power.

This page intentionally left blank PATTERNS OF L I G H T Simon Boccanegra Simon Boccanegra is almost invariably called a sombre work, a dark work. That is why light is so important an element in it. Take the opening prologue. We are in Genoa, in the fourteenth century, in the square before the church of San Lorenzo. It is night. Paolo, perhaps the darkest of Verdi's villains, stands in the shadows and plays on the superstitions of the crowd: "Do you see that dark palace, the evil fortress of the Fieschi?

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