|1. Ca Ira - Opera in Three Acts|
|2. Ca Ira - Opera in Three Acts|
|3. Ca Ira - Opera in Three Acts|
|4. The Gathering Storm|
|6. A Garden in Vienna 1765|
|7. "Madame Antoine, Madame Antoine..."|
|8. "Kings, Sticks and Birds"|
|9. "Honest bird, simple bird..."|
|10. I want to be King...|
|11. Let us break all the shields...|
|12. The Grievances of the People|
|13. France in Disarray|
|14. To laugh is to know how to live...|
|15. "Slavers, Landlords, Bigots at your door..."|
|16. The Fall of the Bastille|
|17. To freeze in the dead of night...|
|18. So to the streets in the pouring rain...|
|19. Dances and Marches|
|20. Now Hear Ye!...|
See all 126 tracks on this disc
Waters was deeply impressed by the passion and the power of Etienne's manuscript and began work on creating a full orchestral score for Ça Ira. Work on the project was suspended when Nadine died tragically of leukaemia, but in 1997, Roger began writing an English version of the text. The finished version of Ça Ira features orchestration and choral arrangements by Rick Wentworth and Roger Waters, also the album's producers.
Principal characters in the opera are brought to life by Bryn Terfel (the Ringmaster, the Troublemaker, Louis Capet - the King of France); Internationally acclaimed soprano Ying Huang (Marie Marianne - the Voice of Liberty, Reason and the Republic, Marie Antoinette - the Queen of France); American tenor Paul Groves (A Revolutionary Priest, A Military Officer); and Senegalese "one man orchestra" Ismael Lo (a Revolutionary Slave).
In the first instance this isn't the music of 'old' Waters, or of Floyd. If you don't like classical or opera, you're just not going to like this - plain and simple.
Secondly, the opera definately needs to be listened to several times to fully appreciate it. It is a grand work after all, and the music and it's subject matter requires your full attention. Like much of Rogers music, it may be hard work on the first listen but patience pays dividends.
The packaging is very nice indeed. The DVD documentary lacks any real depth, but it does give some insight to the man himself, who appears to have mellowed much with age.
The 59 page booklet contains the full libretto, and some interesting artwork. I must confess to finding some of Roger's English interpretation (whether accurate or not) to sound just odd, and one can't help but reviving that old chestnut that perhaps English is just not the natural language of opera and perhaps the piece would have just sounded altogether more beautiful in French. Who knows. Of course the music is where it counts and it is certainly rousing and patriotic sounding stuff. Sing-along tunes in the vein of Bizet or Rosinni are thinner on the ground that one would like but it make's up for it in plenty of 'Oomph'. The children's choruses are reminiscent of modern musicals rather than opera; something that Lloyd Weber would put on stage which is a comparison Roger would loathe.
All in however, it's difficult not to be impressed by the sheer scope of the work and by Roger's musical prowess. The music will grow on anyone who gives it a chance and there is plenty of enjoyment to be had in these 2 discs. It is, in places, quite glorious. All in, certainly not a dissapointment -- 4 stars.
Ironies linger. A previous reviewer has remarked, perhaps defensively, about Roger Waters' disdain for Andrew Lloyd Webber, made so wonderfully overt in Amused To Death. But there is no fine distinction between musical and opera that I know of - and I have no doubt Lloyd Webber too would like to be taken more seriously as a classical composer than he is. The opera set are a hellishly snobbish crowd, and not just any Johnny-Come-Lately will be feted as a genuine composer. Undoubtedly Roger Waters - who is, after all, a ROCK MUSICIAN, will find himself in exactly the same spot as Lloyd Webber, though on the strength of past comments, I doubt he will get much sympathy from him.
That said, this is a very presentable, listenable, outing, and it sounds cracking in 5.1 surround sound on the SACD. I dare say Puccini won't be rocking in his box - nor would Waters be expecting him to - but while it doesn't forge any new ground in orchestral music what Ca Ira does do is help contextualise much of Waters earlier, more overtly rock, oeuvre. There is something undeniably symphonic about Waters use of themes and motifs through his music and I think this might explain Water's much talked about lack of melody (though how anyone could accuse "The Gunner's Dream", or "Nobody Home", or "Southampton Dock" of lacking melody is beyond me): rather than writing three minute pop songs, Waters is more interested in focussing on making a broader musical statement.
Certainly, and just as with his earlier rock records, familiar themes - on grand scales and small ones - abound. The opening riff from The Wall's "In The Flesh" - as transliterated into "Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin" on The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking - is further adjusted and used as a recurring motif on the first side of Ca Ira. The shrieking, fade out voice from the end of "One of My Turns" is reprised - admittedly by a powerful tenor, but the similarity is unmistakeable. The happy sounds of summer from "Goodbye Blue Sky" are back, and I thought I heard the chord progression resembling the one from "The Gunner's Dream" also. Waters does make several cameo appearances, ordering the firing squads in the manner of Pink in The Wall. In one piece, the cellos are, I'm sure, playing the riff to the Bee Gee's Tragedy. Not sure if that was a deliberate reference, though.
Nevertheless, the old boy has definitely mellowed. An accompanying DVD shows him lounging around during the writing of the opera on the lawn of his stately mansion in Hampshire with his French librettists, showing more of the leg and chest of a stately gentleman than a commoner really ought to see. But the control-freakery hasn't entirely abated: during vocal recording sessions he would sit right on the soloist' shoulder and comment on the performance of takes, sometimes even singing along. Bryn Terfel didn't look altogether thrilled to be told how to sing by a man who famously sounds like a cat being strangled.
The result, however, is undeniably an audiophile masterpiece. I don't know much about classical music apart from what I like, but this sounds positively peachy. Some particularly super guillotine effects sweep across the soundstage from time to time (perhaps in lieu of the missile from Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert).
It's early days. A new piece by Roger Waters takes months to fully get itself inside your head. Give it time. But don't mourn the missing electric guitar.
Can't wait to see a live production.
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