Thursday, April 07, 2011

Jury duty day 4

Went with a visiting Japanese friend to see the Met's production of Richard Strauss' final (almost anti-operatic) opera, "Capriccio" - really a "Conversation Piece for Music." We sat in the third-to-last row of the Family Circle, so didn't exactly get a close-up view, but the sound was clear and full. It's not often performed, which is a pity. What a gorgeous caprice - exquisite but not easy listening as almost each line is its own musical marvel, and they all come together in an almost mystical way ("Tristan and Isolde," the closest I know to musical alchemy of this sort, is quoted without quite being reverenced.) In lieu of a plot we have artists and their patrons and muse discussing the priority of word, melody or stagecraft ... while of course all are on fullest display, the Gesamtkunstwerk that much more persuasive for being explicit and in its way modest. Gräfin Madeleine, sung by Renée Fleming, ends by not choosing between the poet and composer who are vying for her favor.

Wählst du den einen - verlierst du den andern! Verliert man nicht immer, wenn man gewinnt? (zu ihrem Spiegelbild) Ein wenig ironisch blickst du zurück? Ich will eine Antwort und nicht deinen prüfenden Blick. Du schweigst? - O Madeleine, Madeleine! Willst du zwischen zwei Feuern verbrennen?
(Die Gräfin tritt dem Spiegel noch einen Schritt näher.)
Du Spiegelbild der verliebten Madeleine, kannst du mir raten, kannst du mir helfen den Schluss zu finden für ihre Oper? Gibt es einen, der nicht trivial ist?

(There's no mirror in the Met's lovely production - she faces the adoring audience.) Madeleine has been in some agitation before, but now smiles and heads off cheerfully to supper. No chance of triviality in an aesthetic work so pure. Wanting to add plot, characters, drama, passion to make it "grand opera" would be trivial!

[Jury duty update: witnesses few and far between today too, so we had a 2.5 hour lunch-break and barely 1.5 hours of testimony after that. We'll be lucky if we finish with testimony tomorrow.]

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