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February 05, 2006


Henry Holland

What a pity that all that talent (and by extension, money) was wasted on such an awful piece. I went to the premiere in San Francisco and the amount of hype DMW received was unreal. A friend of mine was friends with Jake Heggie and I got to go back stage after--when my friend said to Heggie "You've written a masterpiece" I nearly fainted--that was fluffing of the worst sort.

Steve Smith

Henry, respectfully, a "masterpiece" DMW may not be in our time, though who knows what's to come. Even so, I was moved at NY City Opera, I was moved by the CD, I was moved in Pittsburgh and I remain so by the webcast. Call me a soft touch.

Henry Holland

Um, OK, "soft touch" neener, neener, neener! :-) :-)

I wonder, has Heggie tinkered with DMW since the prima? I know "End of the Affair" was extensively gone over after the Houston (I think) premiere, so it's possible. Heggie had no real experience writing for orchestra before DMW; he was a piano/voice songwriter. I felt his opera was blatantly derivative--a friend and I sat with the recording and listened to Act I and went "Britten, Peter Grimes Act II......Bernstein, Candide...etc"--and poorly orchestrated. Now, I'm not one to nag an opera for lack of total, complete originality--heck, I can listen to Peter Grimes and go "Porgy and Bess....Boris....La Traviata etc." but there's a line between being influenced by something and outright theft and I think Heggie crosses that line far too often.

My friend saw the production in Orange County and he felt the same thing I did: any power the opera has is from the basic story, not from what Heggie does with it. Just one example: when the guy dies, there's no music, really; at the premiere, just the beeping of the heart machine. I said to someone later (out of earshot of Heggie, hahaha) that it's bad that Heggie didn't have any music--which can go places that no text or staging can--to deal with this situation.

Oh well, to each his own. It's nice that a contemporary opera had such a good run of performances and for that alone, I'm really happy.

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