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29/09/2010 / Lynn Rabbitts

Chapter 1 Media: Art Perceived

Opera is typically perceived as something in another language, a larger woman singing, something for the rich or those that wish to show themselves as refined.

To put this into context, I would ask you to first listen to the following song without watching the video. Then play it again while  watching.

The most recent time through is how the opera is intended to be received: a comedy. The translation of Lorenzo Da Ponte’s libretto has the Countess and her maid, Susanna, writing a letter to dupe the Countesses’ husband into sleeping with the Countess, rather than following his lusty urges after Susanna.

But to listen to it. To hear the two sopranos vie with one another. Their voices entwining toward the peak. That peak, seeming impossibly out of reach, unattainable. And then, at the same time, the note is found. To listen to the composition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is to hear Orpheus playing a song so sweet it crumbled the Devil’s black heart, setting his wife free.

The context and culture of 244 years changes the opera. What might have been funny in the late 18th century now falls a bit flat, just as my own bias towards the music may not sway a listener.

Different environments may impede Mozart’s music to the modern ear. Art is ultimately a matter of opinion based on the social mores and culture a listener surrounds him or herself with.

As with all communication: Keep an open mind.

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2 Comments

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  1. bambiprof / Nov 11 2010 6:39 pm

    Oh ho!!! you’re ahead of me. . . so glad to find the post. Now I will read to see what you have to say at this juncture. hr

  2. bambiprof / Nov 11 2010 6:43 pm

    Okay, speaks to cultural literacy. . . once again, I’d encourage you to make an explicit (you might see it as academically “formal” or “conventional”) connection to what you have read. Keep thinking!:)

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