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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bloring Bulls versus Singing Pigs, 12 July 2013
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This review is from: The Makropulos Case - Glyndebourne Festival Opera [1995] [DVD] [2003] [NTSC] [2001] (DVD)
Maybe some learned person will one day be able to explain to me why some composers, over the past century or so, have come round to decide not to use recitative, arias, duets, musical interchange singing, choruses etc. when composing operas. Although this production is superbly staged and presented by Glyndebourne Festival Opera, none of this is able to overcome the fact that its raison d'etre would appear to be for the actors to continually shout at each other at the top of their voices in a combined effort to drown out the beautiful orchestral music as well as deflecting attention away from the acting.

Why use 'shout-singing' when everything would be both much more pleasant and interesting had play genre been used instead of opera. What pleasure, or even enlightenment, is there in listening to actors communicating together as if they were a group of a bull and cows bloring at each other in a field? The grunting of pigs, birdsong, a breeze rustling through leaves, the murmur of voices from a gathering of humans, a horse whinnying - all of these are much more pleasant to hear than the way actors in this opera are obliged to shout at each other from beginning to end.

Why did Janacek do this? I am familiar with four other of his operas, all of which I enjoy watching, not lease because it's immediately apparent why he chose to write the music for them in the way he did; but not in this case. For me, it simply does not fit together. However, I think it wrong to mark down a performance simply because one doesn't happen to synchronise with its particular style or artistry. We have to ask: was it well sung, well acted, well staged, well orchestrated etc. And the answer to all of these is a resounding YES. Although I like most operas this is not one of them.

I'm deducting just the one star to represent folks like myself who don't happen to warm to this kind of opera. If you're going to buy this DVD you need to be aware within yourself what kind of opera you like. Some people like the lowing of cattle and bloring of bulls, but I prefer the sound of pigs voicing their anticipation of food as they listen to their meal being prepared. Their voices go from a deep bass up through the scales and into a high treble. This is their food aria. This opera is not a pig opera; it's a bloring bull opera. I don't like it; but it makes me happy to know that many people do like it and I'm giving ii four stars because it's so well staged and sung.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jan 2014, 11:18:50 GMT
BLORING = what exactly?

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2014, 15:13:45 GMT
H. A. Weedon says:
Stephen M Whitaker.
Whereas the pig voice ranges over a wide register from high squeals to low grunts, cattle voices are much more monotonous. Cows moo with very little variation. Bulls also moo but in deeper tones. We always used to say that cows moo and bulls blore. It does occur to me that 'blore' used in this way may be a Suffolk dialect word. However, 'blore' is in the dictionary, where it is described as ' a violet gust of wind'. It may well be a variation of 'blare'. Anyway, we always said that bulls 'blored'. Pigs are very intelligent animals and can be house trained like dogs, but you cannot house train ruminants or horses. You can house train any animal that is born in a nest or den as pigs and dogs are, whereas horses, cattle and sheep etc. are born on the open plains as the herd moves about. Pigs have a fascinating voice range like the best operas. Some kinds of music capture the rhythms of nature better than others. You get this with some medieval music. The music of a Fifteenth Century French composer called Jean Mouton (John Sheep) does this very well. Some people prefer music that blots out reality. Others prefer music that enhances it. Whereas pig music is 'trying-to-express' music, bull music is 'shut-up' music. 'Bloor-r-r-r! I'm the big boss! Shut up and get out of my way!' Because I was born and brought up in the countryside and have never lived in towns, the sounds of the countryside are very familiar to me, which is why I prefer music which relates to these natural sounds. Pig, bull, bird, babbling water, rustling leaves etc. can all blend together to create the natural sounds of nature, which is what, for me, the best operas do. Some operas are too much 'bull' and not enough 'bird' or even 'pig' and the rustling of leaves etc. is absent. I hope this answers your question.
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Review Details



H. A. Weedon

Location: North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,496