• A Few Random Things About Certain Opera Librettos That I Don’t Understand

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    This is just for the sake of posting something. I promise I’ll have another music review written in a few days – and a review of Opera Santa Barbara’s Falstaff in less than two weeks!


    1. I don’t quite get the ending of Falstaff. The “double wedding” isn’t a wedding at all – there’s no clergyman, no vows are exchanged, we don’t even get the old opera buffa standby of a marriage contract. Ford just gives the couples his blessing. But then when the disguises come off, everyone seems to react as if Nanetta and Fenton are married now and Ford can’t do anything about it. Now, I know this isn’t the case in The Merry Wives of Windsor. In Shakespeare (as far as I remember – it’s been a while since I read it) the “weddings” take place offstage and presumably are actual marriage ceremonies. So what’s the deal in the opera? Was a father’s formal blessing irrefutable at the time? Or is it just a case of TSOD – Theatrical Suspension of Disbelief?


    2. Why is it that fans and non-fans of RENT (as I’ve discovered from my forays into musical theatre fandom) are so often disturbed by the fact that Angel kills a dog for money, yet I’ve never known anyone to be disturbed by the incident in Bohéme that inspired it, Schaunard killing a parrot for money? Why the difference? Is it mainly that (a) there are more dog-lovers in the world than parrot-lovers, or (b) because Bohéme takes place in the 19th century, people tolerate political incorrectness from the characters, or (c) some other factors that I haven’t thought of?


    3. I adore The Magic Flute and will never agree with the bashing the libretto sometimes gets, but I’ve never understood one thing. Why, in the exchange with the Speaker, does Tamino try to storm off as soon as he learns that the Temple of Wisdom belongs to Sarastro? Here he’s just found the “villain’s” dwelling, where Pamina is presumably being held – yet he’s so disgusted by the priests’ “hypocrisy” in claiming to offer wisdom that he resolves to leave and never come back, despite not having rescued Pamina yet? Either I have no idea what’s going on, or Tamino has a serious lapse of heroism that no one ever mentions!


    That’s all for now.

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