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Opera in the United States Part 3

Type musical dramatic works, called the “people’s Opera” or “song Opera”, a musical Comedy musical turned out to be the most stable and important in the development and establishment on American soil of an Opera genre. Moreover, in many cases, a meaned “people’s Opera” and a musical is difficult to draw a clear dividing line. Besides specifically American musical finds familiar to the European audience the traits of the German worn Opera in a folk spirit, singspiel, operetta, Viennese and French Revue.

One of the first attempts to create an American Opera was “The Emperor Jones” by Louis Gruenberg (1933, from the play O’neill), where the treated Negro songs and dances alternated with vocal recitation. However, the true success in this made George Gershwin, a descendant of immigrants, exceptionally gifted nugget that developed outside the academic traditions of professional music. Gershwin song composer, author of many popular in the original musical drama “Porgy and Bess” became the Creator of the American version of the so called “folk Opera” or “Opera song in the folk style”, assimilating elements of black folklore, jazz and the techniques of the XX century the Opera Song dance and folk material in many ways defined the musical form and character “Porgy and Bess”, which was first set in 1935, but in full, without abbreviations, was made only in 1942 Another example of this American “Folk Opera” can be found in the Kurt Weill.

This is his “Street incident” (1947, based on the play Raisa E. “American folk ballad”, a street song and symphonic music were combined in his operas “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (1938) and “The Ballad of Baby To” (1956) composer Douglas Moore. Virgil Thomson Opera “The mother” (1947, drama of Gertrude Stein, about Susan B. Anthony, the famous member of the movement for the emancipation of women in America) used traditional Opera means alternating with songs, dances and scenes of the Revue.

The form of the “song” of the Opera used, and Earl Robinson (b. 1910), a pupil of Eisler, author of many famous songs (including “Joe hill”), party of democratic musical movement in the United States. For his “song of the Opera” – “Moles” (1954, New York), the composer chose a short story by T. Dreiser on the construction of Irish immigrants in 1880 in new York tunnel under the Hudson river.

Hunger forces people to work in dangerous conditions and criminal indifference of the administration leads to disaster: water fills the tunnel, and moles die. The theme of the work social conflict and the awakening of class consciousness of the workers. The value of American Opera today is still relatively small, but in the U.S. continue to actively create new works in the genre of musical, and in traditional European forms.

A prominent place among Opera composers USA is Gian Carlo Menotti, who is often called, emphasizing its relationship with Italian Opera culture. Menotti combines skills as a librettist, Director and composer, able to be modern and available to the General public. The secret of popularity of Menotti, whose works are staged in the theaters of Broadway, the spectacular theatricality of his dramatic conceptions in the relevance of its themes.

A significant role in the American Opera theater is a work of Samuele Barbera (b. 1910), whose Opera “Vanessa” was written on a libretto by George. K. Menotti and his directing staged in 1958 at the Metropolitan Opera. This is a lyrical drama, mysterious, elegiac tone which is reminiscent of “Pelleas and Melisande”, Debussy, and the melodies and vocal style are more directly related to Puccini. The last of the big Barber’s Opera “Antony and Cleopatra” was written on special order for the opening of the new building of the Metropolitan Opera in Lincolnesque center for the arts in new York (1966).

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