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In the years sixteen seventy eight sent every mon said Opera is a bizarre affair of poetry and music in which the poet and the musician each equally obstructed by the other give themselves no end of trouble to produce a wretched result. On the other hand a hundred years later Mozart said the best thing of all is when a good composer who understands the stage meets an able poet. In that case no fears need be entertained as to the applause even of the ignorant Riverside radio WRVA are in New York City presents opera the battleground of the arts in this series of half hour programmes Borys gold ASCII discusses some of the problems that beset operators and those who create and produce them. The programmes are produced in association with the gold of ski opera Institute for National Educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation. War is called ASCII is nationally known as an intermission commentator for broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera
and as an opera producer principally through the productions of The God of ski Opera Theatre which have been presented in about 400 communities from coast to coast and now here is Mr. Gold ASCII. Last time we trace the rise of the singer to the point where he became not only the dominant element in opera but actually the main reason for writing and composing operas is we suggest that the pendulum eventually swung the other way. But before we leave the singer to talk about the rise of the orchestra we need to explore the dramatic function filled by the singing voice in opera. We are so used to hearing operatic characters sing instead of speak that few of us are aware of the complications caused by this departure from dramatic normality. Only those who teach conduct stage and produce uppers realize that scene in opera functions on three separate levels. To begin with we have words that appeal to our intellectual understanding.
Second the beauty of vocal tones gives us a sensuous pleasure. And finally the musical nuances of a well executed performance satisfy our sense of artistry. This triple function of singing raises some problems that have to be somehow resolved if a satisfactory performance is to take place. The main difficulty lies in the unfortunate discrepancy between the aims of vocal expressiveness and those of verbal communication. The elongated vowel sounds of sustained singing are injurious to verbal clarity while on the other hand it Crispin NCAA Sion interferes with the smooth legato that is the basis of beautiful vocalisation. Since both part of London and can tabular are indispensable ingredients of opera the producer must somehow resolve the conflict between their demands. The great controversy over opera in English ressource opera in the original language will be taken up in the later programme and I would like to sidestep it for the
moment. It seems fair to say however that there are many operatic sequences in which it is absolutely essential that every word be understood just as they are other portions of operas where the unique sensual appeal of the human voice makes us forget the very existence of words. At one end of the spectrum we have the clearly enunciated part of the secular see the thieves or of the modern British demand. Give me. An Option. At the other end of the party spectrum we find the intensively sung vocal condenses uttered entirely on the old Vols. Between these two extremes. I guess the vast area of ordinary
vocal lines where the sensible and the sensuous must somehow learn to adjust their differences. Some opera lovers are forever complaining about the impossibility of understanding anything that is sung on stage while others are equally vociferous on the subject of the decline of Bel Canto singing. I find it more realistic to admit that except in the extreme situations which we listed just a moment ago the singer must strive to achieve the mixture of farmland and confabulate which is best suited to the particular passage she happens to be singing in seeking the cor rect ratio between the word and the tone. We can usefully distinguish four main gradations for want of better terminology I call them crisp Farlane no sung par Lando enunciated cunto and full contact in uttering a crisper London the performer concentrates on a distinct end so to speak.
Guaranteed verbal communication even. Just in the second gradation sung par Lando the singer produces a clearly understandable yet musically continuous line. Were. In the third predation you know unseeded can tabulate the performer aims at the sensuous legato effect and does not mind an occasional verbal machinist's. Finally in the fourth predation within word and tone the full contact I believe the singer gives his
complete attention to vocal intensity and splendor and is completely willing to sacrifice verbal clarity. Heard of it it. Was. All musical effects. Any changes of dynamics or tempo in the vocal lines of an opera must be interpreted in the light of their dramatic meaning. Since these musical nuances are attached to words their meaning is inevitably obvious. Whether the reason for a pianissimo phrase is found in embarrassment secrecy fear illness or exhaustion is something that can always be readily determined from the words in the theatrical situation. The only purely musical effect and singing which may require special discussion are those connected with short staccato tones in instrumental music play got the
ones that got them have equal standing within the realm of singing continuous speech in the form of Aligarh the vocal line is the only accepted in normal form of utterance. If a sentence is to be spoken or sung with pauses between words or individual syllables. This departure from the norm requires special justification through Starcraft or singing is used as a rule only to illustrate something that is abnormal or not of strictly human origin. Olympias musical clock mechanism in the Tales of Hoffmann is a typical example of a theatrical concept that lends itself to stick out the executive. Was.
We also readily accept the presence of such effects when the character is managed or overcome by excitability is in the almost insane the raging of the Queen of the night in the Magic Flute. Otherwise separated words and syllables in opera generally belong to a non-lawyer got
the variety of execution that occurs when the character who should express himself in an ordinary connected vocal line finds that he's unable to do so because of an emotional condition that interferes with smooth breathing. The most common causes of non legato singing are sobbing sighing and laughing. Mozart and Verdi both masters of this vocal and dramatic breathlessness managed on occasion to include both the laughter and crying in the same musical number. Probably the most famous example is found in the quartet from going to the where the sobbing is done by Gielda and the giggling but Maddalena you on. The.
In executing such passages the singer must convince the audience that his inability to sing a leg Ottoline is a direct result of muscular contractions caused by his emotions dramatically speaking nothing is more disenchanting than the cackle vocalisation which one occasion only hears in such a rapturous moments as that of Judah during her car oh no ma'am. Perhaps even more important than the ability to handle musical effects dramatically is the
invaluable art of coloring the voice. The human throat is capable of producing an almost endless variety of tonal shadings. Think how drastically our tone of voice changes depending on whether we give orders to servants dictate letters or ask for favors quarrel with members of our family. A lot of engines or whisper secrets in opera soprano may be called upon to enact the young girl a mature woman and an old lady on successive days. Naturally her voice cannot be permitted to have the same sound in these three roles even in different portions of a single operatic scene she may have to express indifferent love and hatred or to sound gay tender melancholy and despairing. Think of a Marius who displays no less than five different aspects of her personality in the opening scene of the second act of Aida for each of these she must be able to find a suitable tone of voice her vocal color must characterize in turn
a passionate girl expressing her amorous yearning. Was. A proud Princess addressing her slaves and dismissing them from her presence. On. The news. A young woman tormented by jealous suspicions and dreadful doubt. Oh it's just a
scheming females setting a deadly trap under the cloak of friendship and sisterly sympathy. Don't. Be. A raging tigress who hates her rival and racked her brain to devise the most cruel and humiliating punishment. Or the best your lobal. In the course of this scene there is has ample opportunity to characterize the various
features of her personality by using all the histrionic means at her disposal. But even if she possesses a sonorous voice and a regal figure as well as a fine dramatic talent her portrayal of this role will not be complete unless she's also an accomplished mistress of vocal new arms many operatic sequences for even more rapid alterations in the tambour of the voice. This is particularly true in that these were these contrasting shades of color are usually accompanied by similar changes of dynamics and tempo and instructive example is furnished by literacy the TIV that precedes the Marcellinus was on a duet in the first act of The Marriage of Figaro. Here each of Marcellinus opening three sentences must be sung with sharp differences in the tone of voice degree of loudness and speed of delivery. In the beginning of the recitative muchly is alone and talks to herself in the businesslike tone of voice with moderate speed and loudness. What. I think.
If she notices an approaching Marcelina stone becomes conspiratorial and drops to a hurried whisper. I missed one but I think. After it was on the interest my chilling as the Liberty becomes offensively sarcastic and since she does not want her rival to miss a single word she enunciates everything that follows very slowly and with an exaggerated loudness. Of. Obvious. Merit. Well this final series of observations incidentally is a masterpiece of scurrilous innuendo. It not only cilantro sues on his reputation in virtue by hinting that she has let herself be seduced by Kant in my view but it also manages to imply that she has been paid for it and that Figueiredo has
consented to this transaction for the sake of the dowry he will receive for marrying the girl within a span of less than 30 seconds. Marcelina has to act out three different personalities a sedate business like planner hurried whispering conspiratorially and a loud mouthed slandering gossip without corresponding changes in vocal color. This sequence of characterizations loses all its pungency insists. Here is the whole sequence without interruption. I see. You. I mean just don't. Eat. This. Minute. Oh.
Oh oh the manifold inflections of the human voice are ideally suited for the expression of their magic subtleties. An example from Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes will show us the many dramatic effects that the first great composer can draw out of these vocal resources. While we have no time to present the entire sequence excerpts from the different sections will give us an idea of the enormous variety of expressive possibilities in the dramatic treatment of the human voice the tone of Ellen or Ford's voice in the second act of this opera traverses the entire gamut from elation to despair. It is Sunday morning when most of the inhabitants of the borough have assembled in church. When the service begins Ellen and Grimes as young apprentice remain outside she tries to draw the boy into a friendly conversation. But when she discovers that his shirt is torn and that he has an ugly bruise on his neck she begins to suspect that Grimes was too rough with the boy and was perhaps multi-thousand him. Ellen attempts to console the youngster with the thought that today at least he can have a holiday and rest up from his daily
chores. It is at this point that Grimes enters looking for his apprentice. He has cited an enormous shoal of fish and feels that this is his chance of holing in the catch that will make him wealthy. When Ellen reminds him that he promised not to have the boy work on Sundays. Grimes insists saying will do says whatever day I say it is convoy he works for me leave him alone his mind in spite of Ellen's efforts to calm him. Grimes refuses to give in. The argument turns into a violent quarrel at the end of which Grimes strikes Ellen and walks off chasing the boy ahead of him. We first hear Ellen expressing her joy at the sunshine of a glorious Sunday morning. God. Yahweh. And here is how she sounds when she's just being pleasant and trying to draw Graham's
apprentice into a friendly conversation. Lol. Next comes her concern and anxiety over Grimes is a rough treatment of the boy. And then she attempts to console the youngster. But that is not all. Like an artist who paints with vivid colors against a
neutral background Britain juxtaposes the rather cold and official formulas of a church service conducted offstage with a complement of the organ to the sincere kindness and compassion of Ellen or Ford whose words are seconded by the instruments of the orchestra. Every aspect of the stage action has its exact counterpart in the words and music of the church service which is sung offstage Ellen's early attempts to draw the boy into conversation coincide with the Fermat does that end each of the chanting phrases of the opening anthem. This by the way is the same device that Wagner employs in the opening scene of the Masters singer where they pantomime a flirtation between Eva and her is similarly made to coincide with the fair martyrs of the Koran sung by the congregation. Britain begins his scene with the same procedure.
But then Britain expands this particular idea so that it covers the entire church service from the opening anthem to the final Amen at the point where Ellen discovers the poor shirt and the bruise on the boy's neck. We have reached different responses during which director in the chorus alternate in singing almighty Most Merciful Father we have erred and strayed from their ways like lost sheep. When Ellen urges the boy to enjoy his day off arrest saying Let
this be a holiday full of peace and quietness. The rector in the congregation saying Praise you the Lord the Lord's name be praised. Lol. The entrance of Grimes coincides with the agitated sections where the congregation quotes from the songs. When Peter says I've seen the show I need help. I've seen the shoulder which the rest are blind we hear from the Congregation of the Lord. When we see the Lord Praise the members of the floods Blessed be the Lord we let all the water on Earth. Raising the money right.
And this leads to the final enormously moving scene between element Peter which ends with Peter striking the girl he loves and echoing the amen of the congregation by saying so be it and may the Lord have mercy. The.
Was. The. You've been listening to opera the battleground of the arts with Boris cooled off ski nationally known operatic commentator producer and scholar opera of the battleground of the arts is produced in association with the gold off ski opera Institute by WRVA are the noncommercial cultural and information station of the Riverside Church in New York City. Producer Walter Shepherd production assistants and technical operations Peter Feldman and Matthew Bieber filled the special musical illustrations on this week's program were recorded by Nancy Williams. That's a soprano of the Metropolitan Opera Association. Portions of the script
for this broadcast were drawn from Mr. Gold off sickies book bringing opera to Life published by Appleton century quaffs. On the next two programs in the series Mr. Gold ASCII turns his attention to the role of the orchestra in opera. Next week he'll trace the rise of the orchestra to a position of dominance in operatic composition. And two weeks from now you'll discuss the part played by the orchestra in operatic drama a grant from the National Home Library Foundation has made possible the production of this program for national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
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Negro music in America
Episode Number
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the thirteenth of thirty nine parts, presents various examples of African-American folk and jazz music.
Series Description
This series focuses on music created and performed by African-Americans, including folk, and jazz styles. This series is hosted by Anton Luckenbach of Carbondale, Illinois, who also gathered interviews in New Orleans for this series.
Broadcast Date
Race and Ethnicity
Media type
Host: Luckenbach, Anton
Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-1-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:22
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Chicago: “Negro music in America; 13,” 1967-03-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Negro music in America; 13.” 1967-03-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Negro music in America; 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from