Difference Between an Opera and a Musical

That's The Way To Do It!A History Of Mr Punch (1).png

I was having a discussion with a young(ish) lady the other day, and it came about that she said she loved opera. So I asked which opera’s she liked the best, and she proceeded to list several Musicals (Les Miserable and South Pacific included). I then said that they weren’t opera’s, I was then berated as a snob for dismissing them for being in English, I came back with a load of English language operas and then pointed out the difference between an opera and a musical.

A musical will have portions of spoken dialogue between musical numbers, whereas an opera will be continuously sung. Even something as trivial as say “open that door” will be sung, regardless of the language, however in a musical, its more likely that someone will simply say “open that door” without a hint of sing song about it. And there you have it, a relatively simple distinction which makes a major difference.

 

Opera: The Bear

Last Night I attended the Mid Wales Opera Company’s performance of the Bear by William Walton at The Congress Theatre in Cwmbran.

24176763_10155879655275480_3743328953105696755_n

The Opera follows Madame Popova, a widow, remaining faithful to the memory of her late husband, Popov. Her servant, Luka, remarks upon her affected sorrow. Smirnov, one of Popov’s creditors, appears. During the course of the story, it becomes clear that Popov was promiscuous and unfaithful to his wife. Smirnov and Popova begin to quarrel, to the point where both aim loaded pistols at each other. However, neither can fire, as they have fallen in love.

Everything about the performance was fantastic, even down to the programs, and because of this performance, I’ve even gone as far as to purchase a cd recording of the bear to add to my collection.

 

The Best English Language Operas

One of my favourite descriptions of opera probably has to be from the character Jamie Macdonald (in the film In The Loop), who angrily espouses that “[opera…] It’s just vowels, foreign subsidised vowels”. And I can’t help feel that there is a little bit of truth in that. Opera companies throughout Britain receive a great number of grants and government subsidies, whilst the repertoire of most is usually French, Italian or Germanic in its origins. But I was lucky enough to get to the Mid Wales Opera Company’s production of the Bear, by William Walton the other day, and it put me on the look out for more of the operatic worlds offerings in my own mother tongue. So after a little bit of research with the help of my daughter, who is now a world class devotee of the signing princesses (as she has dubbed all sopranos), and much to the displeasure of my fiancee, who is not, here are a few of the better pieces that could serve as an introduction to the world of the English language Opera.

The Bear- By William Walton 

the bear

This one act opera tells the tale of a widow who has not left the house since the death of her husband and an ill mannered creditor of her late husband, whom the widow dubs the Bear. this small cast and small ensemble of musicians is a light hearted comedy based on a Chekhov play of the same name is thoroughly amusing, especially the eponymous Bear’s treatment of the Luka, the Widow Popova’s manservant.

Akhnaten- By Philip Glass 

41KN4Z6G26L

Aknaten by Philip Glass is an opera in three acts, and its inclusion on this list is cheating slightly as much of the opera is in English, it was originally performed in German, with much of the opera itself actually being in ancient Egyptian. The story itself is a simple (if such a term may be used) biopic of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhnaten, set almost 1400 years before the birth of Christ.

Porgy And Bess- By George Gershwin 

download.jpg

With music and lyrics from the Gershwin brothers, Porgy and Bess tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston, South Carolina. It deals with his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin’ Life, her drug dealer. This is one of the most popular opera’s of the 20th century and has been adapted numerous times on stage as well as several times on screen, with notable performances by Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr.

Punch and Judy- By Sir Harrison Birtwistle 

$wm1_0x700_$_184285Q

Punch and Judy is probably one of the most violent operas of all time, but given the nature of the subject matter this isn’t surprising. It follows the story of Mr Punch and his Journey of carnage as he kills his child, his wife, and varying members of the public before dancing into the abyss with his lover Pretty polly. It’s a weird one, the version I watched, portrayed Mr Punch and Co in a sort of crack house circus which served to highlight the nightmarish content of the original source material.

HMS Pinafore- By Gilbert and Sullivan

hms-pinafore

You couldn’t mention English language opera without bringing up Gilbert and Sullivan, and Pinafore is the duo at their best. Its a tale about duty and love and class, with a young sailor who falls in love with the captains daughter, and through a few twists of fate somehow manages to win the day. This is probably my favourite of all of Gilbert and Sullivan’s light operas, narrowly beating the Mikado and and the Pirates of Penzance, and features such classic numbers as Sweet Little Buttercup & He Is An Englishman

30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

Congratulations Mr Trump (3).png

I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days

25611652

Camelot 3000

61q2xJpcvhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

51yGXnCbYtL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

All Star Superman 

51aj58tawbL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_

Preacher: Gone To Texas

95431

The Crow

The_Crow_comic_book_original_cover

Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

51GG3FKAR4L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

51WJwR8QmnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Marvel 1602

Marvel_1602_Vol_1_1

Saga: Volume 1

81+Sf+bNqUL

 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

download (1).jpg

The Complete Scarlet Traces 

download (2).jpg

Button Man

2902281-button_man_1

Ronin 

51cErSDhkDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

51ynXz0DmPL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_

The Infinity Gauntlet 

Infinity_Gauntlet_1

Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

512UYljUNrL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

Promethea Book 1 

Promethea

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

511O7BCCEyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Multiversity 

3788807

Son Of Superman 

Son_of_Superman

Hellblazer: Original Sins 

81IQpmRpRHL

The Authority: Relentless 

download (3).jpg

Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

51rsvrgxK-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

download (4).jpg

Death: The High Cost Of Living  

200px-Death-_The_High_Cost_of_Living.jpg

JSA The Liberty Files 

JSA_Liberty_File_1

Alice In Sunderland 

51JbqqPdUnL._SX353_BO1,204,203,200_

Daredevil Yellow

81Nk9wThhYL

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

Mr_Punch_cover.jpg

How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

Congratulations Mr Trump (2)

I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 

MV5BMjE1YWRmMWEtYTQ0Yy00NGEwLWFmNzAtZDkwOWNjMzkwYzJmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc1NTYyMjg@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

Gentleman’s Agreement

Gentleman's_Agreement_(1947_movie_poster)

From Here to Eternity

From_Here_to_Eternity_film_poster

Gone With The Wind

Gone_With_The_Wind_1967_re-release

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Cat_roof

West Side Story

West_Side_Story_poster

Lawrence of Arabia

220px-Lawrence_of_arabia_ver3_xxlg

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

5183CT06SGL._SY445_

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

guess-whos-coming-to-dinner-movie-poster-1967-1010267936

Funny Girl

large_4b5ZtYmVtwz5R0UDavj3rvQJrBj

Fiddler On The Roof

fiddler_on_the_roof

All The Presidents Men

MPW-60749

Milk

milk-movie-poster

Kramer Vs Kramer

220px-Oscar_posters_79

Terms of Endearment 

MV5BMTk0ODM4NDk0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTEzMDUxMDE@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_

The Cider House Rules

cider_house_rules_xlg

An Education

education_xlg

The Wolf Of Wall Street

wolf_of_wall_street_ver3_xlg

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

download.jpg

Moonrise Kingdom

moonrise-kingdom-movie-poster-2012-1020750674

Saving Private Ryan

MV5BZjhkMDM4MWItZTVjOC00ZDRhLThmYTAtM2I5NzBmNmNlMzI1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDYyMDk5MTU@._V1_UY1200_CR93,0,630,1200_AL_

Going In Style 

going_in_style

Wall Street

MPW-76145

King Ralph

king_ralph_xlg

Planes Trains and Automobiles

A70-12393

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

51Z2g-KN03L

The Monuments Men

Monuments-Men-poster-2

Good Will Hunting

Good_Will_Hunting_theatrical_poster

Good Morning Vietnam 

large_7gxvvzBj5dAIiTbGItX3V48YPMb

This Is Spinal Tap

5f688539c8ca40399076d1b7b1d869e5

How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

Culture, Curry and Shopping Excursion’s

The Man Down My Local (26).png

Today was a day for culture, culture and shopping. Marianna and I ,this morning, decided to go shopping for clothes. Marianna needed some formal black shoes, and a cardigan to go with the dress I brought her the other day, which she’ll wear to a few things we have coming up like a family wedding, and a few civic functions.

marianna-dress
The Dress

After wandering every shop that sells child’s clothing and shoes in Cwmbran, its a fair few, we finally went into Primark last and there we found a lovely cardigan for £5 and a darling pair of boots that were reduced to £3, so we paid for our purchases and took the 2 minuet walk home, wherein I made a sumptuous lunch of a cheese sandwich, sliced grapes, a packet of crisps, a yoghurt and two jaffa cakes all for Marianna, which she ate in its entirety, which was a nice surprise.

So then we came to the question, what where the two of us going to do this afternoon, as I was up to date on house work, I had nothing pressing to do paperwork wise, which is odd when I have an AGM to attend tomorrow. So I decided it would be one of those days where I attend to my child’s cultural development. So we cranked up the ole’ Amazon Fire Stick, went to Youtube and started on with the opera. Knowing that a two year old, even one as bright an attentive as Marianna, would not have the attention to span an entire opera. So I opted to pick some arias, specifically from some famous sopranos, all of which weren’t overly long, Marianna decided she would dance to what she dubbed the singing princesses (I think it was the posh frocks and tiaras that put the idea in her head) after about an hour of various arias and duets we came to The Flower Duet by Lakmé and at this point I gave up on the opera, because I realised I was having a conversation with a two year old about the “pretty dresses” of the two sopranos.

So it was getting on for four o’clock and we switched to the ballet, mainly as I saw this awesome version of The Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker the other day. So we watched that and then moved on to Swan Lake, where Marianna could get a good look at the “Dancing Princesses” and try to copy their moves (the kids pretty damn flexible, but not coordinated, not even a little bit) but it did inspire this beauty of a conversation.

Me: Marianna, would you like to be a ballet dancer?

Marianna (Age 2): No, I want food. 

The perfectly innocent, but still perfect, response made me remember, from many many years ago, the date I had with a woman studying ballet, I can’t remember the name of the woman, but I do remember that it was possibly the cheapest dinner date I have ever been on, and its made me smile. And with that, I made dinner, we had curry and chips, followed be Neapolitan Ice Cream, it was nice, Marianna then had her bath and went to bed, now I’m on the sofa writing this with The West Wing on in the background while a little part of me is wondering if we finished all the curry or if there’s enough for me to have a second bowl in half an hour or so.

 

The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Being In Love)

The Man Down My Local (2).png

I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being In Love 

Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.

That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.

Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.

This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.