Category Archives: opera

The explicit is the enemy of the voluptuous

Orgies — you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all

Dalrymple notes that an orgy scene is now mandatory in opera productions,

just as doctoral theses in the Soviet Union used to need at least one quotation from Lenin.

Viewing the compulsory orgy scene in a production of Rigoletto (Giuseppe Verdi; first performed 1861), Dalrymple observes that orgies these days

are staged literally rather than suggestively.

It is as if, he says,

the ageing audience has to be reminded of what sex is.

Moreover, he points out, they are done up

like a tableau of Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis [1886].

Richard von Krafft-Ebing, author of the dirtiest book ever written

‘Der unerwartet große buchhändlerische Erfolg ist wohl der beste Beweis dafür, daß es auch Der unzählige Unglückliche gibt, die in dem sonst nur Männern der Wissenschaft gewidmeten Buche Aufklärung und Trost hinsichtlich rätselhafter Erscheinungen ihrer eigenen Vita sexualis suchen und finden.’

Epilepsy of the judgment

The first qualification, writes Dalrymple, for producers of operas

is proneness to severe lapses of taste, a kind of epilepsy of the judgment, or an absence of aesthetic common sense.

Orgies,

if not a compulsory element of any production, are at least very frequent, however inappropriate to the story or production as a whole. It is as if the plots of operas are not sufficiently melodramatic without the addition of a little light pornography.

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Even the Moslems of ISIS might demur

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 08.46.38Dalrymple goes to the opera — Verdi’s The Fallen Woman at the ENO. He confirms that

of course there is an orgy scene.

He notes also that

when Germont sings his aria requesting Violetta to forgo the love of Alfredo for his daughter’s sake, who will not be able to marry the man she loves if Alfredo continues to live with a woman of such ill-repute as Violetta, the daughter is actually made to appear on the stage, unceremoniously and unlovingly pushed to the fore by her father.

The daughter is

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 08.39.57dressed in a beret and grey gabardine Mackintosh, and wearing thick glasses. She looks about 12, an awkward pubertal age, and more likely to grow up a bluestocking than a sensualist.

Dalrymple comments:

Even the most ferocious Moslems of ISIS would hardly have considered her old enough to marry.

More their type

More their type