politically incorrect English or use â€œgoodâ€? English words in a nonsensical manner that will convey a similar, if sanitized, meaning? This issue brings up a lot of questions about the sensitivities in regard to people, words, and music. Most companies find themselves walking on eggshells, void of absolute, definitive solutions. Perhaps it is best to work towards what the composer and librettist intended. Then, let the director explain in the program book notes why s/he
made these choices and allow the audience to have its own opinion. These operas, like all works of art, are products of their own times and the attitudes and mores that prevailed in them. Portraying this on stage does not necessarily make an opera a piece of taxidermy from a bygone era. It will be interesting, however, to see how the facets of this topic are revisited in the future and the changes this will bring to these pieces of music.
Lawrence Axelrod is a composer, pianist and conductor in Chicago. He also organizes, leads and teaches the trips of Opera Adventures - domestic and international travel to great destinations to see and learn about opera. Next Stop: Santa Fe in August 2014! Please go to operaadventures.com for details.
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