Wednesday, December 13, 2006

La Scalandal

As many of my faithful readers are aware, I am not a fan of traditional opera. Such grandstanding and ego-centric theatrics are best left to actors, choreographers, and circus performers, not high-caliber musicians. Nevertheless, my students have been asking for my thoughts on the La Scala scandal with gay porn star and full-mouthed tenor Roberto Alagna, who never misses an opportunity to pose nude or create a scene. His latest impertinence involves the Opera Chic’s production of La Scala.
After doing some research, I located a plot synopsis for La Scala. And I quote:
A composer, working in isolation on a score for a horror movie meets two women who used to know his house's former tenant. When the women disappear, he's forced to look into the film he's working on to determine what happened to them, and who's responsible.
Very few composers have been able to successfully capture the mood of a “thriller” or “horror” story in their stage works. The notable exception is Elliott Carter’s one-act opera, What Next, a frightening examination of sexual deviants who cause automobile accidents in order to become aroused.
Most young composers don’t truly understand the concept of sexual arousal. They prance about like bunny rabbits and flirt with almost any instrument (exception: instruments that require notation in tenor or alto celfs are notable turn-offs). Alagna falls into the category of sexual deviant. His stunt with the aptly named Opera Chic is merely an attempt to seduce young composers who are easily aroused by operatic egos.
But Alagna is not fooling this Professor. He is still wounded from an incident in 2003 when an illicit video tape was made of his audition for Elliott Carter’s What Next. The singer was asked to do a scene in which he was required to maintain an erection for several minutes while executing a very difficult recitative. Embarrassment ensued when Alagna simply could not stay erect. The composer became irate, and the singer withdrew from the public eye for weeks. Clearly Alagna’s recovery is not yet complete.


Anonymous rico fleshy said...

As you are in a unique situation in American music, located in the prestige of the Cadillac Hotel (only a shuriken's throw from that other great American institution at which I once attended, where I would often stroll past the Cadillac Hotel en route to the Rochester bus station, or the liquor store, or both) perhaps you would benefit your readers with a few words of advice on the preparation and performance of these important new works for the operatic stage and their audience of eager composers, young and old.

For example, I was recently coaching a singer on how to enter properly on the final note of an aggregate completion when she replied that she simply wanted to know where she had previously heard the correct pitch so she could sing it. I replied that she shouldn't be listening for the correct pitch, but the correct pitch-class, and moreover that it wasn't a case of hearing the pitch-class, but of hearing the pitch-class that she didn't in fact hear in order that the beauty of the completed aggregate might fall on the first note of the vocal entrance.

So in spite of your lofty tales of Mr. Alagna's acting prowess (or lack thereof) in audition for important new operatic works, there are many of us that are working in the trenches with more mundane matters, such as helping young singers pick out the [014] trichord in an orchestral texture, or explaining the ins-and-outs of ordered versus unordered sets during musical rehearsals.

10:55 PM  

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