polutrope: (aeneid)
Oh Vergil. You were doing so well with Dido's speech (Aeneid IV, lines 305-330) and then you got to the last four lines, "At least if something* was begotten by you before you took flight, if some little Aeneas would play in my halls, who would recall you with his face, I would not seem so wholly deserted." It's so weak, especially as an ending to the rest of the speech (which is my favorite part of the Aeneid, besides the beginning). It's not that I object to Dido wanting Aeneas' child, or even her vocalizing it, it's that I object to Vergil's tacking those four lines on to an otherwise powerful speech.

And "tacking on" is exactly the right word. The rest of the speech is thematically consistent: You're leaving, how could you, have pity, you've screwed me over, remember our love. And then out of nowhere, 'I wish I could have had your baby.' As an ending to a speech that begins "Did you hope, coward***, to hide such a crime**" and contains the touching line ..guest (for that name alone remains to me from that of 'husband')...*****! Really, Vergil? Like line 33, he builds up drama and then kills it one shining moment of bathos. And even then this fails - it takes four lines to do what line 33 did in one.

*Leaving aside how creepy it is to call a baby "qua"
**It's better in Latin: Dissimulare etiam sperasti, perfide, tantum/ posse nefas
***Yes I know perfide doesn't mean coward but English doesn't have substantives. It's a lack I mourn daily.****
****I also think it's pretty hilarious when libretti translate crudele as "cruel man!" Way to kill the drama there.
*****Also better in Latin. The point is, she's lost even the ability to call him her husband, because he's a douche.

PS This is totally random but I am writing a paper about her:
To Helen
Who are you, lady,
loved or hated,
defined by men who died
for the shining image of you?
Whose eyes looked down
from that high wall to see
men fragile as the carding of your loom?
And home beside your first lord,
did you drink daily of your Lethean cup?
polutrope: (aeneid)
So I hate Aeneas a lot. I mean, this is not news; my hate-affair started when I first read the Aeneid, but now that I'm rereading book four, my hate was just strengthened.

Dido has an amazing long speech (which I am going to memorize, actually), and then Aeneas answers, "You are able to relate so many things for me, speaking; and I will never deny that you are deserving, nor will it shame me to remember Elissa..."

NOR WILL IT SHAME ME. What kind of response is that, seriously? And then the next line he lies - and there is no way of getting around it. "I never hoped to escape secretly," he says. Except for the way he didn't tell her, and told his men to prepare secretly. Jerk.

(This of course is only compounded by him saying "I didn't know I meant that much to you" in book six when he runs into her in the underworld.)
polutrope: (work habits)
Oh, Danielle de Niese loving mouse, defend this. Please. It is seriously terrible. She's harsh all the time and she thinks that moving her shoulders a lot is acting. I mean, I like Cecelia Bartoli's Deh vieni better than hers; at least Bartoli got rid of her customary breathyness for once. This make me sure that de Niese can't get rid of the harshness in her voice - it's intrinsic, i.e. she does not have a good voice.

Also the production sucks, as is made doubly clear by their terrible Venite, inginocchiatevi (which de Niese doesn't do very well either, by the way). For one thing, what constitutes dressing Cherubino as a girl when everyone's wearing odd formless jumpsuits? For another thing, that aria has the most obvious implicit stage directions I've ever heard - so it doesn't make all that much sense for Susanna to say "Guardatemi" when Cherubino is already looking at her, or again, for her to tell him to keep his eyes on her and not on the countess when HE IS ALREADY LOOKING AT HER.

On the bright side, their Cherubino is adorable x infinity

EDIT: NO SERIOUSLY I FUCKING HATE THIS PRODUCTION.  I hate modern productions in general, it's true - either a work is relevant to our times or it's not, or it doesn't matter (which is my view), but putting everyone in jeans won't make it more relevant - but they can work, if they have a. an organizing principal and b. something to do with what's going on in the opera.  I mean, in the first duet, Figaro isn't measuring the room that the count gave them, because they are in a car factory, or something.    In "Via, resta servita," Susanna and Marcellina have to be trying to get past each other, because otherwise their exchange of insults makes no sense.  In this production, they're just sort of sitting there. 

Also, have I mentioned that de Niese can't act or sing?  I'd much rather listen to Marcellina - and when your Marcellina's better than your Susanna, you have a problem.


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