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Reflections of an American Composer$
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Arthur Berger

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520232518

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232518.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

Backstage at the Opera

Backstage at the Opera

(p.201) 16 Backstage at the Opera
Reflections of an American Composer

Arthur Berger

University of California Press

This chapter highlights the author's personal experience of opera. His earliest experience as an opera viewer is that of attending his first contemporary opera, which happened to be Alban Berg's Wozzeck at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1931. Another occasion involving Wozzeck had to do with a Columbia Records LP of Marie's long solo in the form of variations conducted by Eugene Ormandy with his Philadelphia Orchestra. This opera encouraged the author to pursue the twelve tone composition. In the 1940s and 1950s the Juilliard School of Music had an active Opera Theater under the direction of Frederick Cohen which did operas not in the usual repertory way but he experimented with staging. The author exchanged words with Cohen in the Tribune over his direction of Verdi's Falstaff. Furthermore, shortly after World War II there was also an attempt at the Metropolitan Opera to put some zing into the stage action of an opera and get rid of the drab, ancient sets. One of the first operas to undergo this new treatment was Mozart's Cosi fan tutte which used pink sets to italicize the opera's sexy content.

Keywords:   Metropolitan Opera House, backstage, opera viewer, contemporary opera, Rite of Spring, Wozzeck, Philadelphia Orchestra

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