Monday, July 16, 2007

AlbGlinka and his Magic Baton, plus: Musings on Life in 18th-Century Vienna

Another Rosenkavalier pic, this one of Moi posing with one of my props-- a baton that became increasingly bejewelled by the Props Department with each successive dress rehearsal.

I am not done processing this opera! I am currently viewing this DVD of it that I got from the library, a very lavish production from 1985 by The Royal Opera, London, directed by John Schlesinger (director of, among other famous movies, Midnight Cowboy). The Marschallin is played brilliantly by Kiri Te Kanawa. The production values are even more exxagerated than the one I was in, if that's possible.

I'm writing this next part for myself-- non-opera fans can zone out if they want... :-)

The weird thing about the plot of Der Rosenkavalier is that the Marschallin is portrayed in the libretto as a fairly virtuous and wise aging female aristocrat-- she visits church and an elderly uncle regularly, and yet she is also having an affair with a 17-year old boy while her husband, the Field Marshall (whatever that is) is off on a hunting expedition! She starts off the opera in bed with this boy!

Maybe that's just the way things were in the 18th-century amongst the aristocracy, both male and female? Maybe the sexual part of this relationship was not really consummated, and that a playful flirtation was considered okay? Or, maybe the composer and librettist were writing a story that was meant to scandalize polite society and show the dark underside of the ruling class? It does not seem like the Marschallin character experiences any guilt whatsoever for being unfaithful to her husband. The strong emotions she feels are over the passing of time, her own aging, and realizing that she has to give up her love for this boy so that he can be with someone his age. I guess maybe you could read into all that a realization that she should just stop her fooling around.

I'm reading this awesome novel by Balzac, Lost Illusions, which takes place in Paris and a smaller province of France in the early 1800s. A similar plot, with one of the aristocratic ladies and a young poet, Lucien, involved in a dalliance. Except that here, the character of Madame de Bargeton (gotta love the names!) tries to remain faithful to her husband while he is still alive, as to do otherwise would be to incite terrible scandal in society.

These are some of the thoughts that are floating around my head, when I am not catching up on the doings inside the Big Brother 8 house!

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