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About dramma per musica


Robert Kingston


Where to begin? My name is Bob Kingston. I’m a librarian, free-lance musicologist, pre-concert lecturer, and self-professed opera fanatic living in Portland, Oregon. My operatic tastes are pretty eclectic, though I’m not a huge fan of French grand opera (who is?) and Gluck’s appeal totally escapes me. Radical or updated stagings don’t bother me in the least, as long as they succeed in bringing out aspects of the drama that I hadn’t noticed before. I’d rather watch something that generates a strong reaction–negative or positive–than sit through yet another thunderously dull production of Carmen or Rigoletto. I love collecting historic vocal recordings, and I often use examples of these in my classes and presentations. So, don’t be surprised if I post a clip of some obscure Russian tenor or Italian baritone from time to time.

all insensitivity

Puccini is past, Ravel is on the docket now. Over the next few weeks,  I’ll be reacquainting myself with L’Heure espagnole and L’Enfant et les Sortileges in anticipation of Portland Opera‘s upcoming production at the beginning of April. This is a very good thing, not only because I love Ravel’s music, but also because it gives me an excuse to delve into the vocal, orchestral, chamber, and solo piano repertoire immediately surrounding these two works. In his review of the premiere of L’Heure in May, 1911, Pierre Lalo stated that: The orchestration…is charming, brilliant, idiosyncratic, diverse, full of subtle timbres and rare sonorities…That. for the musical material he employs, for the chord progressions and explorations of harmonies which for him are customary, M. Ravel owes much to Debussy is a manifest fact. But the soul of his music and of his art is entirely different. M. Debussy is all sensitivity, M. Ravel is all insensitivity. Here’s the opening of the 1987 Glyndebourne Festival production of L’Heure espagnole, designed by Maurice Sendak and directed by Frank Corsaro. Expect more video clips of both operas from my YouTube channel between now and the end of March.