By ROBERT MOYNIHAN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
First, opera is supposed to be quite serious.
One writer of praise for Verdi’s “Trovatore” observed, totally without irony: “When the soprano part is sung as Madam X sings it, one cannot survive without tears.”
As for the composer himself: “He made a nest for singers in his music like the mother-bird warming
her young.” Such comments have as much relation to events as political promises for “a new life” — which turn with experience to be even less exciting than a “new laundry powder.” However, humans are
susceptible to such notions — like the “word itself, “the “poem itself,” even the “opera itself” — all without context. Such theories limit experience and blunt contacts with other lives in the human family.(As for that “mother-bird,” Verdi bitterly complained about inadequate singers,
conductors, and impresarios.)
This composer entered profound depression after the death of both children and his wife. The libretto of Nabucco pulled him from the depths.
A reader of the bible and of Shakespeare, he responded to admired language in the libretto Verdi then describes writing one note at a time, then phrase by phrase, “little by little the opera was written.” At a rehearsal, a chorus so pleased the carpenters that they beat on the woodwork with their tools and cried, “Bravo, bravo, vive il maestro.”
Wagner’s “Cycle,” better reduced to another form? It is already a “ring.” A controversy of taste since its origins, the whole lasts many hours. The critic Irving Kolodin proposed a shortened version; the Glimmer-form trims even more. Is this an improvement? What might bother even informed listeners is the pomposity of Wagner’s own text, an extensive mythological soap opera. The composer’s place in musical history is found in reactions to what one biographer in 800 pages called “Wagner’s Mind.” French culture, with its clarity and discipline, was never to his taste. He even prohibited the speaking of French in his own household.
However, French compositions are therapeutic for the pretended grandiosity of this composer. Debussy included a “Tristan chord” in a satiric piano solo with direction that it was to be played “with great feeling.” The composer Eric Satie had great fun with mythological and self-important pretenses. Answering complaints about his lack of musical form, he composed pieces in “the shape of a pear.” He called some of his other works “wall paper music.”
Brahms, however, was a quietly persistent critic. A score by Wagner was on his Streicher grand. A visitor noted the text was upside down. Brahms righted it: “Now it makes no sense at all,” he said.
Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” was intended as a light entertainment, commissioned by his Masonic friend and theater owner Schikaneder. Is the mythology of the libretto serious? The conductor Bruno Walter thought so, but the light of heart should think otherwise. A baritone roughly imitating a bird song? A Queen of the Night reaching the heavens with her high notes?
The work passes into its own immortality, just as Mozart and other composers of this Glimmerglass season still live through their art.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3
GLIMPSE – 5:30 p.m. Enjoy first look at ‘The Fairies’ a fantasia on Wagner’s ‘Die Feen’ featuring animations. The opera portrays the forbidden romance of a mortal prince and a fairy princess. Presented by Glimmerglass Festival. Visit glimmerglass.org/events/glimpse-die-feen/ for info.
COVID-19 TESTING – 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Stop in for free Covid Test with results in 15 minutes. Help stop the spread. Testing by appointment only. 3 locations in Oneonta. Oneonta Armory, 4 Academy St.; Foothills Performing Arts Center, 24 Market St.; St. James Church, 305 Main St. Call 833-NYSTRNG for an appointment.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, JUNE 18
VIRTUAL BIRD WALK – 9 -10 a.m. Enjoy virtual walk through sights & sounds of the Edith Wharton Estate to discover/identify the different bird calls with the Otsego County Master Gardeners. Visit www.facebook.com/CCEOtsegoMG/ for info.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, MARCH 14
ST. PATRICKS DINNER – 4 – 7 p.m. Enjoy Corned Beef & Cabbage dinner, performance by Irish Step Dancers hosted by The Knights of Columbus. Take-out encouraged. Free, Donations accepted. St. Mary’s Parish Center, 31 Elm St., Cooperstown. 607-437-4626 or e-mail email@example.com
SHAMROCK SWING – POSTPONED
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1
ICE HARVEST FEST – 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Participate in traditional ice harvesting as was done 100 years ago (as long as ice is at least 8”). Also includes ice carving, fishing, hot soup buffet, exhibits by local businesses, more. Cost, $9/adult/teen. Children under 12 enter free. Hanford Mills Museum, 51 Co. Hwy. 12, East Meredith. 607-278-5744 or visit www.hanfordmills.org
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23
ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.
EXHIBIT OPENING – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Discover new winter exhibit “Otsego On Ice: Histories of Wintertime Sport” featuring Fenimore’s outstanding collection of ice skates, snow shoes, sleds, more. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9
TRIBUTE CONCERT – 5:30 p.m. Celebrate our nations veterans with featured performer Jerrod Niemann. Features VIP veterans reception in Wright-Wilber Bank Atrium. Show begins at 7 p.m. Cost, $25 at door. Free to vets, active duty military personnel. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit foothillspac.org
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26
HAUNTED HOUSE – 6 – 10 p.m. Get your heart racing as you explore house filled with terrifying creatures, specters, more. Recommended ages 12+. Admission, $2 or donation to Toiletries Closet. Oneonta Teen Center, 4 Academy St., Oneonta. 607-441-3999 or visit www.facebook.com/oneonta.teencenter
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12
SOCKHOP – 5 p.m. Fun evening features, silent auction featuring great deals from local businesses, dancing, food from the 50s. Benefit for 1st UMC Missions & Art Ministry, Oneonta Community Health Center. Cost, $5. First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-432-4102 or visit www.firstumc-oneonta.org
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, MAY 26
OPERA RECITAL – 7:30 p.m. Internationally proclaimed vocalist Marlena Paradisi & Richard Poole Trio will perform selections from the Great American Songbook. Star Theater, 44 Main St., Cherry Valley. Info, www.cvartworks.org.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, MAY 11
GARDEN PARTY – 12-3 p.m. English tea, tours of new furnishings at Hyde Hall. Free, open to the public. Hyde Hall, 267 Glimmerglass State Park, Cooperstown. Info, 607-547-5098.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, MARCH 30
LECTURE – 7:30 p.m. George Ward presents 2019 Bruce Buckley lecture “‘MY Little Mohee’ – Lawrence Older: The Songs, Tunes, Tales and Life Journey of an Adirondack Singer.” Featuring a night of music celebrating history, traditions of Upstate New York. Free, open to public. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, MARCH 2
MEET AND GREET – 12-2 p.m. “Pawsitive Pawsibilities at the Y” aims to connect new families with companion animals from the Susquehanna SPCA. YMCA lobby, 20-26 Ford Ave., Oneonta. Info, (607) 547-8111.