Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Opera Wednesday

I'm not quite sure whether this qualifes for Opera Wednesday or Retro TV Friday, but since I have nothing else going right now, Wednesday wins out.

From January 1, 1961, this is a TV Guide Close-Up for the world premiere of Leonard Kastle's seldom-since seen opera Deseret, which tells a story from the life of Brigham Young.  (What do you bet this opera makes a comeback if Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination next year?)  Frankly, I don't know much more about this production other than what you see here, which is unfortunate inasmuch as Kastle sounds, from this article, to be an interesting composer.  There are no recordings that I could locate, no evidence of the opera having recently been performed.  Without passing judgement, it does seem to me that this is the fate of so many new operas - to be performed once or twice or a handful of times, then to be consigned to the filing cabinet, never again to see the light of day.  With such a backlog as must exist, why do companies insist on spending their scarce funds on more commissions, instead of - oh, say, singers or production values?  

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Mr. Young being Mormon and the polygamy (which is not legal in the country, but be very careful with states that have "freedom to marry" laws) has something to do with it not being performed. Spoleto performed some rare operas this year but I didn't have plans to go with triple-digit ticket prices (I don't attend events with lowest ticket price being $100 or higher).

    Amateur singers with aspirations and who are true sportsmen (i. e. the neighbourhood banker, the attorney, the clerk) singing a new work that makes sense would be a good thought. The rules are nothing with anti-family (re: sexually deviant/explicit) themes or shock value, and it must be wholesome for the family.

    Churches, on the other hand, have the same problem. They've put sacred arias of a serious nature into the filing cabinet, while buying $200 karaoke DVD's and spending thousands on new trendy works built around the latest pop-rock tunes from the big names. They use them maybe once and it's abandoned. The organist at our church died last week and officially was never replaced since she retired ten years ago. Too many youth have a problem with organists. They'll adore the latest pop-rock work but throw it away after one performance.


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