January 14, 2011

Excuse the typos, I'm observing...

Long time no post. I have been doing extensive research for Loft. Since I’ve never written anything with more than just a passing reference to an historical event I have been working my way through all the book information I can find on clothing of the early 20th century and the Triangle Waist fire. It’s interesting but I have to say that I’m doing it more to absorb the atmosphere than anything else.
As a side burp and to counteract the boredom brought on by too much time with head stuck in book, I have also been doing some opera research which left me open to a two day vacation in NYC to see an opera and just to soak up the City’s atmosphere (and alright, if you must, to feed the howling beast of obsession).
Thirty six hours of observation (20 straight of which I was awake) and application of several Buddhist principals that I have been reading about lately have left me with tons and tons of new material. Since Loft is already over 100,000 words that’s a problem not an asset.
So…the off the topic observation is that opera singers approach acting in a totally different way than those who work in the musical theater (not a new observation, ask Paulo Szot) and that that is eminently visible when an opera singer who has taken a side trip to musical theater returns to the opera stage.
At Carmen last night most of the singers were quite decent opera singers and all of them (except Szot) went exactly where the music was taking them, giving us no more nor no less than the music demanded and at times falling into either stand and deliver or melodrama. (Here I must note that it has always been my contention that if you took Carmen and just transported it to the musical theater without a complete book rewrite it would never, ever make it past the first week-the book would be laughed out of the theater.) But the fact that they stayed within those that operatic stereotype made me yawn. Since I am quite familiar with all the music of Carmen, I knew exactly what to expect of each singer and was given just that. Boring.
Szot, with his hard-earned musical theater experience, was in another opera entirely than the rest of the cast. Whenever he showed up there was finally someone on stage who was inhabiting the role. Yes, the other singers were emoting the music but he was inhabiting the role. I wish to high heavens that the rest of the opera world would catch up in the acting category, stop wrestling with the music so much and wrestle with character.
Until that time I guess I will just have to pray that integration of music with acting is something that the opera world will discover for themselves someday by using some power of observation that they have lost along the way.
So all of the slogging around in the City-of-yellow-and black-snow made me realize that A) you only love the place you’re not (personal observation and B) collecting data for books is much more fun if you are not sitting in a library and reading but spending your time just paying attention to that which is around you.

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