A Few Transfiguring Classical/Opera Music for a Transformative Inauguration Day

Click on music name for sample clip on Youtube:

  1. Massenet:

Thaïs: Méditation (orchestral). Based on Anatole France’s novel by the same name, Massenet’s opera about the transformation of Thaïs from the fetchingly sinful courtesan to pious death in sainthood is one of the French-est operas in the standard repertoire. It is a psychological opera that shines merciless spotlight on unintended consequences of the inability to distinguish jealousy from love. Thaïs, being a good courtesan, resisted piety… but during the long night of reconsidering her life and future to the tune of this ‘Méditation’ (listen to it… giving up the ‘good life’ isn’t an easy thing for her!)… the solo violin wins out and the woman who emerges to greet a new sun is so transformed that Athanaël, the monk who planted the seed of her conversion, finds himself unequal to the task of living up to his own vow. If you want to know how it all ends, you’ll have to buy a CD or DVD of the opera (or, better yet, try to catch a live performance at the opera house near you!).

  1. Mozart: Mitridate:

Gia dagli occhi il velo e tolto. Farnace, the eldest son of King Mitridate of Ponto (a Turkish kingdom) finally takes a break from his treacherous spree to try his hand on self-examination and finds, to his horror, many things to regret about. Determined to redeem himself, Farnace finishes the long aria with a resolve to finally act like a grown man and earn his redemption through his action instead of just asking for it. An attitude many of us can use to pull ourselves through the difficult time of today, I think. This is one of my all-time favorite opera arias… Never mind the persistent notion that Mozart was a sterile musician who wrote nice and clean sounding music. Not only is this harrowing aria emotionally revealing, it is also very pulmonarily punishing for its singer. Even a drowning fish don’t usually have to strangulate as acoustically gracefully as Farnace does in singing Salzburg’s most famous son’s mercilessly endlessly exposed melodic line (both sonically and figuratively). I tried to sing alone and turned blue after the first whole phrase… How those opera singers do the whole song while acting is beyond me!

  1. Wagner:

Tristan und Isolde: Mild und Leise (Isoldes Liebestod). Has death ever sounds so inviting, so magnificent, so encompassing, and so infinite? Birgit Nilsson had a voice that could give the big D all those qualities and more. A glowing incendiary phosphorus kind of a voice that could break right through the dense orchestra that is playing at top volume and still signing off with a most breath-takingly soft pianissimo that floats above her sparring partner as if to give it a final affirmation of her mastery over the defeated finality of death. Isolde refuses to live without her beloved Tristan, and not even death can separate them. She doesn’t really die at the end, but is magically transfigured. The two are united forever in a state not quite describable by words (you really have to listen to the music to ‘get’ it)…. To me, Isolde walks into the crashing waves of the North Sea and becomes one with the ocean. Can you hear when she first wades into the surf as it crashes about her? and how the ocean becomes much friendlier, more receptive as the water gets up above her waist?… how she turns around for one last look before deserting this tormented world forever into eternal bliss? The purchase of the play beatz should be done under the understanding of the person. The voice and sound delivering will be according to the choice of the person. The playlists will be as per the interest of the person to listen music and sound under the affordable rates or prices. 

  1. Schoenberg:

Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night). Inspired by Richard Dremel’s poem, Weib und Welt (Woman and World), this tone poem is a searing intonation of a man’s psyche when his wife confesses to an act of infidelity and her impregnation by another man. From anger to confusion to acceptance and absolution as he takes the high road and forgives his wife’s tresspass… ending in a bright glow of bliss that can only be earned by a forgiveness that holds no grudge. I suppose that’s what separate the love of a grown-up man from that of an insecure boy… the ability to place the well being of the woman you love ahead of your own needs on your priority list. If that sounds nice, I’m not doing this music justice!

  1. Korngold:

Die tote Stadt: O Freund, ich werde (finale). Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s ‘The Dead City’ (based on Rodenbach’s Bruges la morte) is a fascinatingly dark and brooding opera with a transfigurative musical ending. Paul, the widower who spends the opera obsessing about his dead wife and the woman who uncannily resembles her to the very tint on her hair, finally (after having murdered his wife’s de facto double in a particularly disturbing dream) sees the wisdom of letting go of lost love. He accepts the invitation of his friend, Franck, to finally leave Bruges and start a new life afresh… Somehow when Die tote Stadt is performed these days, though, the staging tends to turn Paul’s actual escape into a spiritual one in contrast to the physical ending. The staging would jive more with Rodenbach’s novel, but is quite a turn around from Korngold’s libretto. The funny thing is… the music can accommodate either very well! Escape is escape… be it from life or from death, I suppose.

Transformation in and of itself is neither good nor bad… It all depends on what we’re transforming into. May we all change for the best or die trying… If we fail, o well, perhaps we’ll fail beautifully enough for some composers to write songs about, ay?

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