Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rebel Without an Opera

It’s Trivia Tuesday! Yesterday I was out teaching marketing to eighth graders for our Generation OC project (more on that Thursday), but today I’m back and ready to bring you delicious opera trivia!

Speaking of delicious, I just learned that scapigliatura is, in fact, NOT a flavor of gelato. It means “the disheveled ones” and it was an avant-garde movement originating in twentieth-century Milan.

Thought of as the Italian version of the French bohemians, they rebelled against what they saw as “traditional” – and in the opera world, they worked to modernize Italian opera – more Wagner, less Verdi. (Verdi was actually personally criticized by the group for being too old-fashioned.) This group was critical in the movement toward verismo opera, which included such works as Pagliacci and Tosca.

And do you know which rebellious composer joined their ranks? Giacomo Puccini, himself! I find this particularly interesting since opera is often seen as pretty traditional, and La Bohème is considered about as traditional as it gets.

But a lot of people don’t know that in their day, opera composers were considered avant-garde and nonconformist. Verdi himself (despite what the scapigliatura had to say) was considered pretty wild; when he wrote Un ballo in maschera, the censors objected to not only his portrayal of the assassination of a monarch, but also forced him to change the setting from Sweden to Boston.

Opera composers: the rebels of their day, pushing against societal boundaries. Bravo!

Ciao for now!

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