Saturday, September 29, 2007

I can't top that

Sometimes a bit of news comes by that is either a superb insiders' joke or just more unnecessary evidence of the unique capacity for cruelty possessed by our species.

The latest example came this morning with the news that Charles Wuorinen plans to make an opera from Annie Proulx's short story, Brokeback Mountain. I haven't read Proulx's story and haven't seen the film based upon it, but the idea of a romance between a couple of shepherds set to a Wuorinen score is one of those really bad ideas that you have to either learn to laugh off or accept in total despair.

This is, after all, the man who managed to take a lyrical, at times gentle, Salmon Rushdie text and all but club it -- like a defenseless baby harp seal -- to death with his insensitive and irrelevant score. Please, let it be a joke.


Anonymous said...


Yeah I didnt get it when I first heard the news. I thought it was a joke.

But you make it clear....its totally absurd.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't read the book, nor seen the movie - what makes you a judge to rather it's a good idea or not? It's a beautiful story, written by an intelligent writer.

I think that if it's done well, it will be a great success.

Daniel Wolf said...

bbmrebel -

Okay, thanks for prompting me. I've now read the story. It's fine and would be an interesting challenge turning laconic dialogue into singable material.

Having read the story, I stand by my comment. What in Wuorinen's music would suggest to you a match to this text?

Ben.H said...

You don't need to have read the story or seen the film to think it's a joke, because (like Dead Man Walking) it's The Opera of the Movie, the middlebrow answer to the stage musicals of Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever and other derivative junk that's clogging up Broadway and the West End.

How soon until we have the Jukebox Opera, and which semi-respectable composer will be the one who pulls it off and gives promotional interviews trying to artistically justify a confection of the ten best-known Puccini arias cobbled together into a ludicrous plot?

Anonymous said...

Next, it'll be Milton Babbitt's "high School Musical: The Opera".

Civic Center said...

I have seen the movie, and it's accompanied by one of the most memorable film scores ever written.

Charles Wuorinen was the "Composer-in-Residence" at the San Francisco Symphony right after John Adams inaugurated the post in the early 1980s, and after hearing one too many pieces by Mr. Wuorinen, I was ready to grab a dead baby seal and club him over the head with it.

The anonymous Milton Babbitt joke above is awesome. How about Elliott Carter's "Sex and The City: The Opera"?