Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Opera Wednesday

Last month, I attended a pair of one-act operas based on Charles Dickens stories, A Christmas Carol ("Mr. Scrooge") and A Tale of Two Cities ("Miss Havisham's Wedding Night"), as part of "A Dickens of an Evening". As usual, I do not review operas where I have conflict of interest since it would be impossible for me to review anything that features singers or musicians with whom I have sung in Beethoven's Mass in C Major (2010), Excerpts from Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten (2009), or any of the numerous Händel's Messiah excerpts that I have participated (2005-present) (with virtually disqualifies me from the majority of events I attend). The Sunday production that I attended featured my voice teacher's fiancé, and the Saturday that I did not attend had her (we sat together for the Sunday production), and the accompanist was the lady of whom accompanied the Beethoven and Haydn productions I mentioned. Mr. Scrooge himself is the bass who has sung at Mass in C Major, therefore disqualifying me from any reviews, so I can only discuss reflections on the operas.

The first opera's story was haunting and tragic (and featured Dr. Hill on Saturday, which disqualifies me from any review), and to me sounded similar to a woman's betrayal at the wedding altar, a female Figaro in a tragic way. The soliloquy was about Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations) being betrayed and staying in one room fifty years previously at the altar. Sadly, with the way some of us who are not yet married look at life, it is a sad state to see this is not the type of person you want to be in your seventies, and the anger of the woman will make a man want to find the right woman, and marry her, before it is too late. The haunting theme wants me to read this book, and sadly, our education system has corrupted the standards of literature by ignoring Dickens in favour of Communist authors such as Richard Wright.

It was interesting that Samuel Douglas, who is a music professor at South Carolina (my alma mater), composed the 35-minute piece. Cleve Callison, father of John, who was the Ghost of Jacob Marley in Mr. Scrooge, noted how his son had to sing as a mummy with linen wrapped around the head to keep the jaw with the head in burial. The creepiness of the opera and the ghosts of the Christmases were reminiscent of Scrooge's attitude in the Dickens story. But the joy of Christmas had to be there, and the story was reminiscent of Dickens to an angle. Why do we ignore Dickens today for authors who are not qualified except for their politically correct standards?

Mr. Scrooge was locally composed by Samuel O. Douglas. And for those of you who aren't familiar, you may notice some familiar faces and names in the promotional videos they had for the operas. 

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