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Initial post: 6 Jan 2014 18:17:01 GMT
Anonymouse says:
Symphonies get a lot of love from classical listeners. Other instrumental follows. Solo piano. String quartets and the like.

And Dvorak excelled in all of those.

He thought of himself as an opera composer, however. I've owned all of them at one time or another.

I can only think of Rusalka, which I saw in Prague a couple of years ago, and Dmitrij, which I would like to see, in Prague, before too many years have passed.

Any love for any of his other operas here?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jan 2014 22:09:14 GMT
Mondoro says:
How can four people think that someone who starts a thread isn't adding to the discussion that they initiated in the first place??

'Adding to the discussion' I must confess total ignorance of all Dvorak's operas except Rusalka, which is a great favourite of mine - maybe like Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin they have been the victims of the success of that single work. Yet, as Anonymouse has pointed out Dvorak saw himself as an opera composer and must have devoted a lot of time to their composition. Maybe time for some retrospective justice.

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 00:18:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jan 2014 00:19:29 GMT
John Ruggeri says:
If one does not like the discussion or author - stay away please.

I saw Rusalka in Philadelphia with Ashley Putnam in the lead in November 1988 and loved it - I want to explore more of Dvorak's opera.

These are Dvorak's operas;
http://www.operafolio.com/list_of_operas.asp?n=Antonin_Dvorak

1.Alfred - Czech ◦First performance at Olomouc on 10 December 1938

2.Král a uhlíř - Czech ◦First performance at Praha N on 28 May 1929

3.Tvrdé palice - Czech ◦First performance at Praha C on 2 October 1881

4.Vanda - Czech ◦First performance at Praha KZ on 17 April 1876

5.Šelma sedlák - Czech ◦First performance at Praha KZ on 27 January 1878

6.Dimitrij ◦First performance at Praha C on 8 October 1882

7.Jakobin ◦First performance at Praha N on 12 February 1889

8.Cert a Káca - Czech ◦First performance at Praha N on 23 November 1899

9.Rusalka 2* - 3 acts - Czech ◦First performance at Praha N on 31 March 1901

10.Armida ◦First performance at Praha N on 25 March 1904

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 02:26:13 GMT
scarecrow says:
Well please answer why his Operas have never entered the repertoire except Rusalka?,
If Dvorak is an Opera composer of high genius and dramatic vision I guess all the primary Opera houses of the Globe, its devoted cadre of, stage designers, artists, singers, Brokers, Conductors,accompanists, and pit people have been suffering from ignorance.

Enlighten us, We have only out'' Chains'' to Loose. . .

I've been told that most of Dvorak's Operas are artistically uneven, revealing a lack of theatrical invention,gift for aria, song, and drama;judging from his Symphonies(which I admit I dislike) his creative skills seem overtaxed at that level i.e. large scale musical form.
So poor Dvorak is out-of-his-league in Opera.
There I suspect you need a bit more knowledge of how the theatre works; where a bit more vision long dramatic sustenance is necessary. . In many of his operas he wanted standing armies to inhabit the stage; ;
I guess we need that today, HaHa! War,Destruction and Armies. These serve(HaHA!) to illuminate so much of the corruption round the globe, and corrupted governments and systems of wealth production. .You look at this in light of Dvorak's binding, his subjectivity bound to an odious nationalism he clung to he loved. . . What has Nationalism ever given Europa that it did not massively pay for in permanent wars,austerity. . . genocide. . .

I originally thought that the opera "Jacobin" was possibly about the French Revolution,but I learned different; that would have given Dvorak's rather conservative, tepid, predictable, old-fashioned subjectivity some flare and interest, but Alas! he failed there as well. . .Revolution of any kind and substance had no place in his keen,sharp, perceptible musical genius. . .

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 02:45:48 GMT
John Ruggeri says:
This is the second thread with so many NO votes. I wonder if it is a program glitch.

NOTE: I gave scarecrow's post a yes vote.

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 02:54:08 GMT
John Ruggeri says:
I have reported to Amazon the inordinate amount of "NO" votes on this thread. Maybe -1- person is posting under different names. ANNOYING.

Maybe if others do the same it might help.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jan 2014 05:05:44 GMT
JayJayDee says:
I would have thought that Dvorak's brand of nationalism was more of the culturally protective type than the aggressive type which caused all the wars that have afflicted Europe and also Africa. Forgive me if I'm wrong but I'd have thought that Bohemia has been a victim rather than a cause of conflict. Similarly Finland. I don't blame Dvorak for not being a revolutionary either politically or even musically.

Generally I would suggest that an opera either has to be pretty damn good to survive the logistical and economic costs of putting them on. Or alternatively it has to have been adopted by the successive generations of the bourgeoisie as a last refuge for a good dressed-up 'night out'. Dvorak's appear to fall into neither category and have suffered inevitable neglect.
I must admit that the subject matter of most operas tends to 'date' them far more than it does for symphonic music.

But it is always tantalising to come across a gem like O Silver Moon... and wonder if it is the tip of a very warm iceberg. Sadly, as with most opera the highlights are just that...highlights. Much orchestral and vocal writing seems to be done on auto-pilot.

As a fan of Dvorak's symphonic and chamber music, I have little enthusiasm for the investigation of his ten operas (thanks JR for the research). I am sure I will miss much pleasant and a little good music, but I will also be avoiding a lot of routine writing. If I were Bohemian (regionally), or if I were an Opera Buff, or if I had three lifetimes.... then I might give 'em a go. but I have none of these three attributes.

I don't mean to be dismissive. But until or unless any of the operas get better reviews I guess they will remain a backwater for me and many others.

As for the multitude of NO voters they are maybe invaders from other chat forums who wish to make some sort of obscure point. (Yawn).

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 09:06:47 GMT
Again, it is Rusalka that I have known and loved for years. I have a recording of The Stubborn Lovers but have to admit that I haven't listened to it very often.. No real excuse for not exploring the others except that operas can be expensive to buy. My opera collection is relatively conservative, founded to a large extent on those I have seen. When it comes to Czech opera I usually think of Janacek.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jan 2014 09:15:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jan 2014 10:36:02 GMT
Bruce says:
I don't see it makes any difference - I came to this thread and read all the posts without even noticing the votes - it was only the comments in text that even made me aware.

Perhaps it is the fact that people express their annoyance that is spurring on the "neggers"? This kind of sad individual likes nothing better than thinking they have been noticed - far better to ignore them and not comment at all. Then they will probably go away.

I don't see it as annoying - but rather amusing that anybody would even bother with this - you have to be pretty silly to come along to a forum that you evidently don't like, just to click on a button. It's like kids who ring an old person's doorbell and run away - but far easier to ignore and I suggest we do so from now on.

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 09:53:14 GMT
Roasted Swan says:
I suspect that the quoted self-view by/of Dvorak as an opera composer was a product of the times in which he wrote. Don't forget that the epicentre of art music in the Czech/Slovak nation at that time was the opera house - Dvorak played in the orchestra there so it was a logical extension to see the operatic form as the "ultimate" means of expression. Tie into that the burgeoning sense of national pride and it makes perfect sense for his operas - and those of Smetana who was the Provisional Theatre's conductor from 1866 - to be celebrations of Bohemian history, legends and folktales.

Of the 10 I know 7. For sure it is hard not to agree that Rusalka is the "best" simply because it achieves the finest fusion of form, music and narrative. But one has to acknowledge the audience, time and place for which these works were written. With all their 'local colour' they were not written as all-encompassing Wagnerian music dramas. It could be argued their function was closer to what we would today think of as Musical Theatre.

Important though to recognise that many of the best operas work well when they retell myths or folktales in a way that resonates for contemporary audiences. This was say Janacek's great skill - take a simple tale like "The Cunning Little Vixen" and make it into an allegory for all of life. Dvorak and Smetana were creating the soil from which a Janacek could spring. So perhaps we as non-Bohemian listeners in the 21st century find it hard to be stirred by the daring do of a Dalibor or a Dmitrij but that is not to diminish its worth then or now.

No I do not listen to these works (or Smetanas) as much as other operas in my collection but when I do I have to say I find them all greatly enjoyable. Dvorak was too good a composer and too good a tunesmith to write 'bad' music - the best is joyful and of real beauty. My favourites away from Rusalka are Dmitrij (very epic) and Kate and the Devil (fun).

I find Scarecrow's scathing dismissal of music he admits not knowing interesting. Supposing we were to substitute for Dvorak and his operas some of Scarecrow's beloved composers and be just as damming and just as ignorant. The argument that they are not staged around the world is a weak one. Take any nation on earth - does every element of its culture HAVE to travel around the globe to be deemed worthy? We all know art from our own countries that we love which does not fulfill that criteria. Likewise, to create a link between nationalism in music and political nationalism with all its ugly and dangerous overtones (armies et al) is again again quite wrong and damaging. That is to deny the right of any culture to celebrate its uniqueness and by extension the glorious diversity that exists. The alternative is a bland uniformity that I suspect the strikingly individual Scarecrow desires no more than any of us.

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 10:43:44 GMT
Bruce says:
"Dvorak's rather conservative, tepid, predictable, old-fashioned subjectivity.."

I think this is all to do with an impression gained from a limited few works - although I did tend to feel the same about Brahms and that he was a second-rate Beethoven copyist. Having listened to a bit more, I can see a complexity that was original at the time, but I still don't really like any of his music and further listening has only strengthened my liking of Beethoven and dislike of Brahms! ;-)

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 10:44:18 GMT
I think a major obstacle to wider popularity of Dvorak's operas is language, not many people are familiar with Czech. I first heard Rusalka sung in English and knew it reasonably well before buying a Czech performance. It might be something of a vicious circle for the others - they don't become better known because of lack of performance outside the Czech-speaking world.

I have heard Janacek sung in Czech and English, have recordings in both languages and DVDs with English subtitles and have become familiar with them. Perhaps I will have to make more of an effort with Dvorak.

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 11:23:32 GMT
JayJayDee says:
Is it not reasonable to expect the inflection of the language itself to be crucial to the sound-world of an opera?
Translations into English often have to make use of some pretty coy or cringing turns of phrase in order to maintain the scanning with the original language. I'd prefer to struggle with the original language and have a translation handy.
Janacek is surely a prime example where the spiky language contributes to the sound-world itself. The music seems to be clearly written for those words, not only for the meaning of the words.

There are many modern operas being written and it is indeed daunting to face the libretto of (say) Sallinen's Ratsumies, Rautavaara's Vincent, or many of the other scandinavian operas of the last twenty years written for their National Theatres with a view to preservation of the languages.

Posted on 7 Jan 2014 14:13:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jan 2014 14:17:40 GMT
scarecrow says:
No I openly admit
I've grown weary of Dvorak OK, I find his music utterly predictable, tepid,as I did of Elliott Carter's one and only Opera, a dismal failure. . .
However I have followed Opera in all its eras, it exhibitions, crudities, passions, subjectivities,mysteries, and failings;

So I find this defense of Dvorak utterly heroic,Hats off! push on Gents, get your tin hats. . .

Ignore the "No" votes, you might get spunk on your keypad. . .

Posted on 8 Jan 2014 22:51:37 GMT
MacDoom says:
Has it not been glaringly obvious that the threads getting all the no-votes are the ones with people discussing all the no-votes?

DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS.

Don't mention votes. Just don't. Ignoring it isn't that hard. If, and only if, people refrain from cintinually drawing attention to them will the problem go away. Trolls that see that they get reactions, of whatever kind, will stay and try to get more reactions. It's their life. Fine - let them bash nonononononono. They'll tire of it soon enough if nothing happens. And they'll go away to places where reactions do occur.

Unfortunately, at the moment, that's right here.

Hush.

Posted on 9 Jan 2014 09:26:24 GMT
Bruce says:
"If, and only if, people refrain from cintinually drawing attention to them will the problem go away."

But your post above has just drawn attention to them!! ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2014 20:29:23 GMT
JayJayDee says:
And it didn't attract the (otherwise predicted) negativity. So...I maintain it is a troll invasion from an adjacent Amazon forum whose members got bored with their inanities.
And - as we always used to say... a nation's expats are often its worst ambassadors! But hopefully they don't stay long because they can't cope with the climate!

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 13:30:17 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jan 2014 13:35:14 GMT
scarecrow says:
ThX Jay JayDee, always the dependable persona for level-sober view discourse,n' the aether, the concourse of what is human,
Yes these "No" notes are a plague. . . I've been around these Forums since their inception, and the "No" is like some recurring rash, allergy patyches on one's torso. . some mindless "virus", attaching. . like a parasitic substance. waiting to die. .

I'd rather spend my time with some new opera as those of Eotvos, Rihm, Dusapin or the Lachenmann "Match Seller" than try to resuscitate something in Dvorak long dead,inconsequential and morose. . .I've been seeing the new productions of Calixto Bieitos. . . .try his "Platee", of Rameau. . . . .

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 15:43:20 GMT
Anonymouse says:
"I'd rather spend my time with some new opera as those of Eotvos, Rihm, Dusapin or the Lachenmann "Match Seller" than try to resuscitate something in Dvorak long dead,inconsequential and morose."

Yes, we know.

And I find it ridiculously easy to do both.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2014 17:07:39 GMT
Bruce says:
I agree - one day I might feel like listening to something challenging and complex, then the next, feel like something beautiful and melodic, then sumptuous and bombastic...and so on.

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 18:36:01 GMT
enthusiast says:
I am not sure I have understood scarecrow's argument correctly but isn't it at least partly about which composers write interestingly for the voice rather than their modernity and rigour? This had seemed to be to be an interesting line to pursue.

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 19:06:47 GMT
Anonymouse says:
Well, it's not really an argument. More of a rant.

Scarecrow doesn't like Dvorak, and he's telling us why.

"Interestingly" depends wholly and utterly on the listener.

This listener has found Dvorak's writing for the voice to be perfectly satisfying. The masses, the stabat mater, the operas. Not so much the songs, but I don't like songs, much. Just me. As I indicated in my previous utterance. ( :-) )

Posted on 11 Jan 2014 08:05:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jan 2014 08:06:06 GMT
JayJayDee says:
I love Dvorak, but an opera has to comprise continuous damned good music and /or covering a personally-relevant theme before I can devote so much time to getting to know it.

Accordingly I have missed out on many pleasures - while accumulating many others.
It's all to do with time I suppose. I once thought I'd spend my retirement years catching up with the pleasures of 3 hour operas, but now I find that, in the forty or so years since I was young and bum-fluff-bearded, so much new symphonic music has come to prominence or been written that I prefer to catch up on that.
So - if it's a choice between getting to know Aho's 21st Century Symphonies 12 through to 16 or the neglected Dvorak Operas I'm afraid that modernity wins.
By the way... Aho's 12th Symphony would appeal greatly to Bruce and I commend it for his Surround Sound system. The piece of music was designed for a dispersed performance and is a rare supporting case in CM for such systems or, of course, the live experience.
Aho, K.: Symphony No. 12, ""Luosto"" (Storgards)

Posted on 11 Jan 2014 14:17:04 GMT
Anonymouse says:
"...has to comprise continuous damned good music and /or covering a personally-relevant theme before I can devote so much time to getting to know it."

Yeah, there's a lot of that going around. Listening to music as a chore rather than as a pleasure, with the necessary restriction that it has to be a certain way before one puts any effort into it.

"Accordingly I have missed out on many pleasures...."

True word, that.

"It's all to do with time I suppose."

Well, I'd venture to guess that it's nothing to do with time. I have always found that I always have plenty of time for the things I want. I understand your situation, however. It's how I am with film. I enjoy watching movies, but I only ever watch if someone else is watching, too. I never "have the time" to watch movies on my own. But while I'm watching them, with friends, I thoroughly enjoy them.

"So - if it's a choice between getting to know Aho's 21st Century Symphonies 12 through to 16 or the neglected Dvorak Operas I'm afraid that modernity wins."

Well, it's not, really. Unless you make it a choice. Which you have. I like the idea of spending more time with more recent things, though, things from one's own time. Aho's never struck me as being particularly "modern" though. But I have only spent as much time with his music as it took me to recognize I would probably never want it. But still, I have plenty of time to listen to it. So if you recommend those, I could easily give those 12 through 16 symphonies a listen.
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