The prefab riffs of computer programs like GarageBand aren’t entirely new. As shown by the musicologist Robert Gjerdingen, many 18th- and early 19th-century composers used pedagogical materials as a basis for their compositions, “composing out” passages in creative ways. But this method is not something the ordinary listener is supposed to recognize. Unfortunately, despite an abundance of vocal talent, the feeling of an exercise – a bag of bel canto tricks deployed by well-taught singers to fill the evening on schedule – never really left the Collegiate Chorale’s concert presentation of Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda at Carnegie Hall.Read the rest here. The good news is, should some opera house have a dubious plan to stage this opera, I have two bits of free advice about how they could spice it up a bit!
1. Modernize and make it about Princess Charlene McSadface of Monaco. Surveillance theme with lots of cameras, TVs, security guards, etc. Royalty is kind of pointless these days and this looks so sad, no wonder Beatrice wants to get out!
2. Make Agnese male--meaning, a mezzo sings it wearing pants and a mustache or whatever. This explains, all at once, why Filippo loves her (him) instead of his wife, why Beatrice is so unhappy, and why Orombello doesn't return Agnese's affection. It takes a love quadrangle that is mostly just convoluted and makes it way more complicated.
Also I have to correct my impression that the Tucker Gala a few weeks ago was the first time that I had heard Jamie Barton, because I was reminded that she was one of the Norns in Munich last summer! Sorry about that, and I still look forward to hearing her more in the future.
Photo copyright Erin Baiano.