Bringing New Music to Opera

Many links are to YouTube videos to give you an idea as to the sound of each opera

Philip Glass brought minimalism (and rock undertones) to opera with “Einstein on the Beach.” John Adams brought electronic music to opera with “Nixon in China.” Glass continued with his trademark sound with “Satyagraha” while Adams goes even further into the electronic world with “Doctor Atomic.” These were both composers who changed the sound of opera through the 80’s to the present. So what are they up to now? Glass has a new opera based on the novel written by Nobel Prize winner, JM Coetzee, “Waiting for the Barbarians” which is a leaner, slimmed down style from his previous works and yet still is firmly in his style. Adams also has a new work, “The Flowering Tree” which is heavily influenced by Mozart.

Other operas are appearing around the world, also bring a new sound the stage. Howard Shore, best know for his sweeping orchestral scores of the “Lord of the Ring” films, attempted to bring a blend of atonalism and 50’s music to “The Fly”. Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn were influenced by Chinese music as well as their own pop roots in their creation of “Monkey: Journey to the West.” Stewart Wallace was also influenced by Chinese percussion music, and his own rock background to bring an American Chinese feeling to “The Bonesetter's Daughter.” Several times on this blog I’ve talked about the need for opera, and classical music, to take influences from modern music forms and it seems I am not the only own looking for this trend. Opera is flourishing with new life, new operas and new sounds. Although Anne Midgette feels much of this new sounds has yet to really understand what it is to be opera, the reviews that many of these performance are getting seem to suggest that some of them succeeding.

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