Monday, August 17, 2015



A Complete Change of Pace

THE TELEPHONE

A Satirical Opera in One Short Act

by

Gian Carlo Menotti

Written in 1939, long before the Cellphone-Texting Era
Menotti nevertheless anticipated what was to come in a most amusing fashion in this charming extended joke of an opera, little more than twenty minutes in length.

15 comments:

  1. Talk about a phoned-in performance!

    ReplyDelete
  2. COMMENTS UNRELATED to the SUBJECT of the POST are NOT WELCOME HERE.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Given the response, perhaps you should have gone with an operetta, instead!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. §;-D=

      Another time, perhaps, Mrs. G. Another time, but that was charming.

      Delete
  4. Complete lack of curiosity coupled with studied insolence and a careless lack of respect for those who still make an effort to be thoughtful and creative spell the death of a once vibrant culture.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wonder if Minotti could possibly imagined how obsessed we've become with the telephone and any other modern communication devices. They've turned us into people who miss many opportunities to connect meaningfully with other human beings.

    I cringe when I see toddlers with iPads or iPhones. And I see a lot of toddlers doing just that! They will grow up to believe that anything not on their devices cannot possibly be real,
    IMO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am reasonably certain Menotti had a keen sense of what was bound to come sooner or later, but in 1939 it was till possible to see humor in the effect of "technology" on social interaction. The Telephone implies a criticism of the medium as a deterrent to honest, face-to-face communication, of course, but the merry little opera was written strictly tongue-in-cheek.

      The young man tries DESPERATELY throughout to PROPOSE MARRIAGE to the young woman, but the TELEPHONE keeps interrupting, and SHE is completely carried away by whoever is on the other end of the incessant phone calls, and nearly forgets the close physical proximity of her suitor.

      That he ends the piece by proposing to her OVER the PHONE from the railroad station is ironic satirical comedy at its best, but in his frothy light-hearted way Menotti makes a very telling point about the direction society was already taking even eighty years ago.

      Delete
    2. FT,
      Oh, yes! It is funny that he's relegated to having to propose by telephone.

      My mother was a telephone addict, but because of her heart condition. Before that time, she was out and about and talking to everyone face to face. A very active woman, so she had to find something to fill her time home alone once her heart condition sidelined her for at least eight years.

      My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, HATED the phone. She said, "It interferes with tending the sick." She wouldn't even answer the damn thing.

      Dad was much like his mother -- until my mom died. Then he used the phone, but only to talk to me. Dad also had a cell phone as a precaution to have handy in case he had automotive trouble. Dad used that cell phone two times: once to see how it worked and once to call me from DMV to say, "I got my driver's license. I passed the vision test." Dad was 85 years old at that time.

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. YES! The little opera is supposed to be accompanied by a chamber orchestra, but this was a college production, so resources were limited, of course. The pianist did a wonderful job keeping the pace lively, and playing with considerable expertise. He had to play the role of CONDUCTOR as well as accompanist –– no small accomplishment.

      There are professional more musically satisfying productions of The Telephone on You Tube, namely one sung in German by renowned singers Anja Silja, Eberhard Waechter famed for their work in operas of Wagner and Richard Strauss. But, it's shown in a grainy black and white reproduction of a TV broadcast from 1968 that looks like kinescope. It's livelier, funnier and vocally superior to the one I chose, but the visual reproduction is so poor, I thought the excellent college production would have more appeal. The singing actors in the college production are remarkably good –– particularly the young man –– but they rise to the level of top flight artists like Waechter and Siljia, who were probably in their mid-to-late thirties when they taped the German production of "Das Telephon."

      Funny thing! I thought, perhaps, the German would impede my enjoyment since the work was written first in English for American audiences, but it made NO DIFFERENCE at all. The "message" is so clear from the music, itself, and the comedic pantomime the work could almost be sung entirely on LA LA LA and still be successful.

      Delete
    2. FT,
      I hope that the pianist went on to pursue a good career. Such a talented man!

      BTW, I love Menotti's work. The Medium is my favorite, but The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore runs a close second.

      Delete
    3. I've been a devoted fan all my life, AOW, and love all his stuff, but AMAHL and the NIGHT VISITORS remains my favorite, for its unabashed sweetness, childlike purity and complete lack of rancor and cynicism never fails to touch my heart and bring tears to my eyes.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. That was the idea, Jersey. I'm glad you realized the tiny opera was intended to amuse and not teach some sort of 'lesson." We need a break from the endless haranguing over D versus R, etc.

      In the manner of would-ve "intellectuals" today some Ducky-esque person wrote a "critique" of The Telephone claiming it was "misogynistic."

      That's the trouble with these deadly serious, self-important individuals who on a predatory manner read "social significance" into EVERYTHING, to enable them to grind their axes in their ceaseless efforts to try to make us miserable.

      We may never agree on Hillary Clinton, (;-o but I could never accuse you of taking life so seriously that you've forgotten how to enjoy yourself.

      Glad you enjoyed The Telephone.

      Delete
    2. I can't believe I never heard of it!

      JMJ

      Delete

IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THE FOLLOWING, YOU DON'T BELONG HERE, SO KINDLY GET OUT AND STAY OUT.

We welcome Conversation
But without Vituperation.
If your aim is Vilification ––
Other forms of Denigration ––
Unfounded Accusation --
Determined Obfuscation ––
Alienation with Self-Justification ––
We WILL use COMMENT ERADICATION.


IN ADDITION

Gratuitous Displays of Extraneous Knowledge Offered Not To Shed Light Or Enhance the Discussion, But For The Primary Purpose Of Giving An Impression Of Superiority are obnoxiously SELF-AGGRANDIZING, and therefore, Subject to Removal at the Discretion of the Censor-in-Residence.