Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What is Verismo?

The topic of "what is verismo" has been discussed from time to time on this forum. It's a subject that has fascinated me for more than 60 years. Re-reading "The Puccini Companion" edited by William Weaver and Simonetta Puccini, I find this most interesting explanation (p.269): "Since the first successes by … Mascagni ('Cavalleria rusticana,' 1890), … Leoncavallo ('Pagliacci,' 1890), and Puccini ('Manon Lescaut,' 1893), the dramatic code of so-called verismo was fixed An almost unilinear musical structure that accompanied the action by way of psychological comment corresponded to the direct expression of the characters' emotions. The characters were psychologically differentiated, the temporal structure of the action followed the natural flow of time as closely as possible, and all the scenic apparatus was aimed at the maximum identification of the audience with the characters onstage and with their actions and reactions. There were many examples of this kind of theater - which Puccini managed to develop, diminishing the directness of its scenic effects and the immediacy of its hold on the audience …; but a libretto as early as that for 'La fanciulla del west' also reveals the cracks in a musical dramaturgy that no longer corresponded directly to contemporary straight theater."

I hope that some of my Opera L colleagues have some comments of their own on the topic. Do you agree or disagree with the above? Do you believe that the explanation goes far enough? Or too far?

Kurt Youngmann - eagerly awaiting some opinions

"Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” -

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