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Charles Deemer

Oregon Literary Review

MFA, Playwriting, University of Oregon

Writing faculty, Portland State University (part-time)

Retired playwright and screenwriter.
Active novelist, librettist and teacher.

Email: cdeemer(at)yahoo(dot)com

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The Writing Life II

(Posts archived here are from 01/10/03 - 10/31/06)

Thursday, February 09, 2006  
I don't like this opera. I spent most of the 3 hours in the opera house tonight trying to figure out why. I like some of the music. All the singers had talent. Why didn't I like it?

I begin with the libretto. The story strategy here reminded me of plays fashionable in the 60s that were a series of monologues with no interaction. Does any opera have more areas than this one? It seems every scene is someone or some group proclaiming or commenting on something. I nearly fell out of my chair when, at play's end, a sword fight starts: two characters on stage in conflict! What a concept!

I disliked much about the production. The witches were a joke, a sorority of new age ladies in florescent jump suits, prancing around like gals at a slumber party. All the fantastical elements in the story were over-wrought technically or over-intellectualized/symbolic, all glitz and no magic. Some glitzy nonsense happens, and Macbeth screams "O terror!" Yeah, right. The set design was much too busy, layers and projections, image upon image. The entire production was far too busy. I've never seen so many people on stage choreographed so awkwardly. I thought I was at a high school musical.

This is an opera I could enjoy on CD for the music alone, where I could ignore the lack of dramatic action and whatever cluttered stagecraft a director uses to camouflage the fact that everything happens off stage.

Not a wasted evening at all. I learned a lot about how not to write a libretto.

2/09/2006 11:08:00 PM | 3 comments

MacBetto is VERY early Verdi, from a time period when audiences still came to hear their favorite singer sing a solo rather than sit through a plot... This was changing rapidly, but the audiences were still of this mindset. And, therefore, so were the librettists (Piave in this case, if memory serves...). Strangely enough, it would be Verdi's collaborations with Piave which would, in the end, be the final nail in the coffin for the "Aria" opera.

I like this piece as a fanatic of all things Verdi, and then only as a curiosity. I own a video, but I don't watch it as much as I would Un Ballo in Maschera or Otello

At least you were able to get past a CHORUS of witches LOL.

Personally though, I could listen to it over and over just for the duet after MacBeth kills Duncan.
As for Arias, I think Mozart's Idomenao (sp?) might have more, but it would be a VERY close call.

The arias in the Mozart are just a little too long for my taste. Almost turned me against Ternary Form altogether before I even got started... LOL
Very helpful to put this in historical perspective, John. Thanks much. How are the witches usually handled? I counted 27 of them, in florescent blue, red or green jumpsuits, prancing about the stage like a slumber party of sorority girls on acid. I haven't seen anything so amusing on stage since the 70s when the U of Oregon did a production of Midsummer Night's Dream with a bevy of naked ladies wearing only body paint who trotted down a long ramp to the jiggling amusement of all.
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