Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks – music and chance

Here are two performances of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks:

And now a little quiz – which one did you like more? If you chose the second version, we’re in the same club – I really really enjoy the fireworks that are to be heard in the background (and sometimes – foreground!) of the music.

There exists a term in musical terminology of ‘aleatoric music’ where some of the end result is left to chance. The most extreme example is of course ‘4’33’ by Cage, where everything is left to chance – the silence is never the same and cannot be repeated. Which in fact brings us to the conclusion that every kind of live musical performance is in a sense aleatoric – you will never listen to the same composition twice in a concert hall – if you count into your experience the whole ambiance, the sneezing and coughing, people shifting in their chairs and sometimes even – mobile phones going off at a very inappropriate moments. But – surprisingly – I do not mind it. I am not a purist in this sense – a live performance is for me just this – (a)live performance – I am interested in the whole situation of which music is a part, a big one, but it fills a space with people, so what happens around music is also interesting and creates a special moment – never to be repeated.


Quebec tenor stages ‘vocal cord strike’

Mr. Hervieux you have my full support! The tenor voices his opinion against replacing actual singers on posters plastered around the city for the purposes of advertising the opera. Here’s the relevant piece of news:

The Opéra de Montréal is set to stage Die Fledermaus on Jan. 26, but the singer the company bills as “the prince of Quebec tenors,” Marc Hervieux, is refusing to sing during rehearsals, which began this week.

Hervieux says he is on a “vocal cord strike,” upset with the posters advertising Johann Strauss II’s Viennese operetta, known in French as La Chauve-Souris and in English as The Bat.

The advertising poster for the Opéra de Montréal’s production of Die Fledermaus, or La Chauve-Souris. (Opéra de Montréal)

The company’s advertising campaign for this season features models instead of performers.

“If you don’t know a lot about opera, you see this poster of this beautiful girl or this beautiful guy,” says Hervieux. “When you buy your ticket, suddenly, where is this beautiful guy?”

via Quebec tenor stages ‘vocal cord strike’ – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News.

It is my deep conviction that the glamorizing of the opera, and more broadly speaking in the arts (theatre, cinema etc.) is doing nobody any good. Maybe I am old fashioned but I want to see real people on stage, in all shapes and sizes – because it is only by real people (and not photoshopped models) can emotions be truly and deeply expressed – their bodies do, too, tell a story. And please do not get me wrong – I have nothing against good-looking people – I just think that in the theatre there’s a place for every kind of human being with his or her own story to tell, also through the body.