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Cole Parker

A little Mozart, anyone?

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I hate all classical operas. Just not a fan. (OK, I like Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, and similar rock operas, but that's where I draw the line.) I love Mozart's symphonies and piano concertos and various sonatas, though, and they're at or near the top of my Classical playlist on my various iPods. I was just reorganizing some Mozart on a recent iPod last night -- go figure.

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Opera is an acquired taste, as I have said before. It helps to regard the voice as another instrument and not worry about the plot or the words, which isn't too difficult if they are in another language.

Play a tuneful aria from any opera in the background, over and over again, and eventually, perhaps in a future life, you may even come to like opera.

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Play a tuneful aria from any opera in the background, over and over again, and eventually, perhaps in a future life, you may even come to like opera.

I knew you were kinky, Des, but that strikes me as excessive. Did you have to sit at table as a child until you had finished all of your peas?

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I knew you were kinky, Des, but that strikes me as excessive. Did you have to sit at table as a child until you had finished all of your peas?

No, I had to sit at the table until my folks were drunk enough for me to go listen to the opera on the radio.

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Try watching the movie Amadeus. I found it opened up the world of Mozart operas for me. I realised the Mozart music that is often played from his early works is the least interesting, and that his really dramatic music is very much the stuff that inspired orchestral scores for movies, as well as the later operas of other composers.

There is a purist attitude to much of the early period that quite frankly does a disservice to much glorious music by only playing the gentler parts of his work. The dramatic range is quite an eye ear-opener, and whilst I think Puccini is just about as good as it gets, Mozart did pave the way for later composers that we like today.

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I love the movie Amadaus! Brilliant film. (The star, Tom Hulce, is now out of the closet and occasionally appears at gay events.) My two favorite scenes: the one where one of Mozart's patrons tells him to "leave out a few notes" from a complicated concerto he just wrote. And the other, where Salieri performs a piano sonata for the Emporer... and after hearing it just once, Mozart then comes up with about a dozen variations on it, each one better than the last, leaving Salieri completely flustered and dismayed.

Still hate opera. But that's a great film.

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Amadeus is, of course, an essay about people 'praising' mediocrity. The author (Peter Schaffer) is well known for his anti-religious views and nowhere are they more clearly expressed as in Amadeus. (Peter Schaffer also wrote, Equus, and other plays, amongst them the outstanding, The Royal Hunt for the Sun.)

I believe in at least one stage production of Amadeus, Salieri moves down stage at the end of the play and dips his fingers in his water bowl and then flicks the water from his fingers over the real audience in the theatre in a benediction of 'blessing' the great mediocrity of humanity.

The music, specified by the author to be used in the play, is Mozart at his most dramatic. As the only person who truly understands the genius of Mozart's music, it is ironically, the Salieri character, who describes its sheer beauty in application to the human condition of not only Mozart's life and creativity, but also anyone who wants to reject the futility of a mediocre existence. It's a masterpiece of writing and I'm glad you like it Pec. ( I was music and sound designer for a production of the play here in Adelaide back in 1990. It didn't hurt that, as a projectionist, I had screened the movie for six months.)

It should be noted that Amadeus as a play is not factual, but loosely based on the old rumour, now thought to be untrue, that Salieri poisoned Mozart.

This story has influenced much discussion, and also inspired the Russian, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to compose a one-act opera in two scenes called Mozart and Salieri. It is very reminiscent of the modern play in its use of music.

As I stated, in dramatic terms, Amadeus is an essay on the worshipping of mediocrity, something that too many people seem to do instead of attempting the effort to realise that they too can become, awesome.

Thanks for the footnote about Tom Hulce coming out. I hadn't caught up with that. I would have loved to have made him giggle as he did in the film.

:lipssealed:

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I was going to make the point that the basis of the movie, that Salieri was responsible for Mozart's death, was largely considered false, and that much of the thematic material in the movie was embellished for dramatic purposes, but you preempted me, Des. Nevertheless, it was a movie that was outstanding and compelling. Sometimes fiction is bigger than life.

C

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