Sunday, September 11, 2022

Don Pasquale at the Estonian National Opera

As you may have gathered, I haven't had a chance to watch a lot of opera lately.  Well, I suppose technically if I'd really, really tried, I could have.  Definitely.  But I was busy over the summer and now I'm kinda busy (although becoming a bit less so as I get into the swing of things) with my teaching here in Tallinn.  But, of course, one of the coolest things about living here is the opera house.  Since I really got into opera, I hadn't 'til now lived anywhere with such a venue.  Long ago, I saw college productions of The Mikado and The Threepenny Opera, but that's not really quite the same thing, is it?  

I always felt sort of self-conscious about not having seen live opera.  Am I not a TRUFAN?  Before the Met Live in HD broadcasts, the hosts always give the exact same spiel about how watching live in HD is great.  But nothing can compare to the experience of being in the house.  So give us money.  Man, Bloomburg is giving you, like, hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.  Why you gotta hit me up?  Still, on some level I wondered: oh no, am I missing something fundamental about the form by not being there in person?  Well...now I'm part of the club.  Maybe.  

Unsurprisingly for such a small country, the opera house is a rather small affair.  I mean, it's still kind of fancy, with a balcony and box seats and, outside the auditorium, busts of—one supposes—famous Estonian artists or producers past, and an adjoining bar area.  One can't complain.  Well, one can always complain.  There were duel Estonian/English supertitles, but I was sitting in the third row, which was a great view of the stage, but which required one to habitually glance upward to see them, and you might not think it, but that kind of tiny, repetitive motion can get a little painful.  I think the optimal viewing arrangement might be the front row of the first balcony.

(I must report, in fairness, that the supertitles were on the fritz for the first ten minutes or so of the third act, after the intermission—at one point you could see a Mac menu bar up there.  But then they were fixed, and by the end, you probably wouldn't even remember that there had been a problem, or at least register it as anything important)

Regardless!  It's Don Pasquale!  How you gonna fuck that up?  Well, I suppose apart from doing it as some kind of hideous regietheater thing, you could do an excessively mean version, in which the tricks played on Pasquale just feel gratuitously sadistic.  But THIS WAS NOT THAT.  It was a sturdy, traditional production with handsome wooden sets.  It was done with an all-Estonian cast, as is generally the case (notwithstanding the occasional foreign guest artist), all of whom are extremely capable.  I was a little unnerved to realize that the guy singing the title role, Pavlo Balakin, is younger than I am (he was apparently a last-minute replacement; previously there was another guy listed, who was slightly older than me, but the principle is the same).  I quickly realized how meaningless that really is, though: sure, if you're playing King Lear or summit, you want some miles on you, but Pasquale is a cartoon character, so it doesn't really matter; anyone can be aged up well enough via makeup and costume, and he was fine, albeit very typical.  Tamar Nugis was a suave Malatesta, Kristel Pärnta a firecracker-y Norina, and Mehis Tiits as Ernesto...well, he did the best he could with a fairly uninteresting part—albeit one that DOES have a few genuine musical highlights, which I think I didn't fully appreciate the first time I saw the opera, which was early in my opera-appreciation career.

So do I now appreciate opera, or at least this opera, on a much deeper level?  Well, not really.  Don't get me wrong; it was hella awesome, I recommend it to all and sundry, and I'm going to frequent the house as often as I can while I'm living here.  But I wouldn't say my understanding of the form has been changed, and I definitely don't think that seeing an opera on video means you somehow haven't “really” seen it.  Is that a self-serving conclusion?  I don't care!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Carmen Jones (1954)

I figured, if I say I like Carmen so much, I should probably see this movie, which is the opera re-set in the US during World War II with an all-black cast.  So, I did.  Neat! 

One thing I'll say for it: Dorothy Dandridge in the title role is electric.  She kills it.  You can't stop watching her.  The REST of the movie though...well, I'm just gonna say it: it kind of sucks.  And I realize that me saying that opens a big ol' can o' worms, because am I just saying that because I'm overly attached to the original?  Am I being closed-minded?  Well, I don't think so.  What else can I say?

I truly do not object to the change in setting, or alterations to the plot, but the problem is, it sort of feels like it's performing contortions to try to make things work so that the appropriate songs can be sung in spite of lacking the context.  So, for a fairly contorted example: obviously, it would make no sense to have a bullfighter in this milieu, so instead we have Husky Miller, a boxer (and I will concede that his name is a reasonably clever analogue for Escamillo).  And look, bullfighting is inhumane and should be banned everywhere it hasn't been, but the problem is, it's flashy and dramatic in a way that boxing simply...isn't.  And therefore, his song about boxing heroics doesn't make much impact (also, it's weird that they don't include the opening part where he compares his work to soldiers', given how easily it could've worked in the setting).  But what's really noticeable about it is that it includes this whole thing about how his manager helps him to succeed, and it's sure great to have that guy around, and you think, wait, WHAT?  Escamillo crediting someone else for his success?  What kind of catastrophic misreading of the character is THAT?  But the reason it includes this guy and also this guy's superior is that there's no element of smuggling in this story, and therefore you need someone to take the place of the male smugglers, Le Dancaïre and Le Remendado, if you want to include a version of “Nous avons en tête une affaire,” which they do.  And yet, for all that trouble, their rendition of the song turns out to be pretty lame: instead of joking around about how you need women for criminal affairs, it's just them and her friends Frasquita/Frankie and Mercédes/Myrt trying to convince her to go to Chicago to see Husky.  It just...doesn't fit the music.  It seems like it's supposed to be funny, but it's not remotely so either in the way the original is or on its own.  It's just bad, people.

So what else?  Well, to give the film its due, I'm willing to grant that its version of the Habanera, “Dat Love,” is largely tolerable.  But even there, I dunno: it's really hard to tell how one's reaction is colored by virtue of the lyrics being in one's first language, but some of it just seems...not great.  I don't know: “You go for me and I'm taboo/but if you're hard to get I'll go for you.”  I mean, okay, on the one hand that's sort of clever...but on the other hand, it's also sort of lame, isn't it?  I don't know.  It was hard for me to really warm to it.  Still, in the interest of maximum fairness, let's stick this one in the win column, and while we're at it, let's also put “Beat Out Dat Rhythm on a Drum” (the “Gypsy Song”) there as well.  But seriously, that is ALL.

Let me ask you: do you know Carmen's friend Lillas Pastia?  If you do, it's certainly because he's mentioned and identified as such several times in the sublime “Près des remparts de Séville,” and seriously, how nuts is it that a song that good is only like the tenth-best-known piece in the opera?  He's the innkeeper at the tavern where the smugglers conduct business; it's a tiny role.  Well, here he's called Billy Pastor, which is fine, but what's not fine is how the film murders the song.  What's really memorable about it is its sense of melancholy; of calling on a utopian future that, Carmen must know, is going to be fleeting at best.  But there's NONE of that in the rendition here.  It's badly cut down, and it strips out all the pathos.  It is to the original as “Two Princes” is to “I Who Have Nothing.”  NOT GOOD, in other words.

As for the film's version of the Card Trio—well, at first I was all prepared to declare it a success; it seemed to be working pretty well in the new setting.  But NOT FOR LONG, I'll tell you that much.  What's the dumbest fucking thing you can imagine anyone doing to this song, huh?  Tell me.  I'll bet it's not as dumb as what this movie does.  So there's the “dites-nous qui nous trahira/dite-nous qui nous aimera” part, and then...the movie completely cuts out F and M's dueling romantic fantasies.  Seriously.  It skips straight to Carmen bemoaning her fate.  WHAT.  THE.  HELL.  You people DO realize that that's there for a reason, right?  I mean, aside from that it's fun?  Because, like, it's contrasting F and M's lightheartedness to C's obsession with death?  JESUS.  So, blah.

I don't know what to tell you.  There are a fair few other songs, but nothing that really stands out.  For unclear reasons, there are zero songs for Escamillo beyond the hit, and “Quant au douanier, c'est notre affaire” is absent, but I can't say I really regret any of this, given how uninspired this whole thing is.  Even the climactic duet fails to make an impression.  I really do want to like a project like this, but it's just not good enough.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Giuseppe Verdi, Ernani (1844)

An early Verdi opera, and, per wikipedia, his most popular until Il trovatore.  Also, fun fact, apparently it was the first opera to be recorded in its entirety, in 1904.  You could make a good argument that it was a significant lacuna in my opera-watching experience.  Actually, you could do that with any Verdi opera I haven't seen.  If I'm counting correctly (I might not be, considering all the revisions he made), there are eight of them.  I should buckle down and do it, probably.  They're all available in some form or another.

Well, this is Verdi.  You know what Verdi sounds like!  He wrote some pretty solid tchunes!  But one is forced to concede that he was not always as discriminating in his choice of libretti as he could have been, and here is an example of that.  Right, so Ernani is a bandit.  He and Elvira are in love, but unfortunately, she's engaged to marry Silva, an old duke.  Oh no!  So there's some conflict, the more so because Charles V (yes, the father of the king in Don Carlos) is also trying to seduce her.  It gets very confusing—and the wikipedia entry is not very well-written or helpful—but there's a bunch of scheming, and the upshot is that Silva and Ernani (who turns out to be a dispossessed noble) team up to try to take out Charles, who is felt to be treasonous in some way I didn't really understand.  And—here's the real “uh?” moment—Ernani swears that if Silva blows this hunting horn at any time, he, Ernani, will kill himself.  A little later, everyone's reconciled, and Charles agrees that Ernani and Elvira can marry.  But oh no, soon after they marry, Silva cashes in, and Ernani has no choice but to stab himself to death.  Cool.

A number of questions come to mind, most notably: why did he swear this oath, apropos of nothing?  Why does he seem genuinely surprised when the extremely obvious result of him doing so manifests itself?  And why does he go through with it in the end?  Obviously, this sort of self-destructive “honor”-based culture has existed all over the world; you think of samurai who were supposed to commit seppuku when their lords were killed, or Hindu widows who were meant to immolate themselves.  But in those and other situations, they're dealing with social pressure.  The people in those circumstances didn't specifically stipulate that this is what they're going to do.  This opera is just bizarre, and not in the least dramatically satisfying, great music notwithstanding.

It's based on a Victor Hugo play, which you've gotta think—I'm admittedly just guessing here—has to have been criticizing the sort of behavior that the opera wants to be in some sense heroic.  Otherwise, I have no idea what he was going for.  Not a fantastic piece of work, but this Operavision video, from Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, is a solid, traditional production that features the extremely rad Angela Meade as Elvira (a role she'd previously sang at the Met).  She is awesome.  The only issue with this production is that there are, like, two or three random extras/chorus members wearing covid masks.  I would understand and make allowances if this was the height of the pandemic and everyone had to be masked, but it's not, the result is just needless weirdness.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Car[men]talk

 So: I watched Carmen for the seven hundredth time last night. Okay okay, let's not go nuts; realistically, I believe it was the fourth time I'd seen it start to finish. I realize that this is not exactly an outré opinion, but I think this is my single favorite opera. There's just something about it that really feels like it embodies the form, at least as far as tragedy goes. More than any other opera I've seen, maybe, the protagonists just feel like they're locked by virtue of their unchangeable natures into this ineluctably grim drama. Great music is aided by a great libretto in making something...great. Okay.

Most recently I saw this version:


It's probably my favorite thusfar.  It was the first time I'd seen the original Opéra-Comique version with spoken dialogue, so I thought it might play significantly differently, but nah. There's actually very little chatting; even as a general non-fan of talking in operas, both versions are similar enough that it makes essentially no difference. I'm just going to go through it and talk about the characters a little, if you don't mind or even if you do.

Carmen (Anna Caterina Antonacci)

When you think about operatic heroines, and you think about the ideal casting from a physical perspective, you'd probably mostly tend to think, well, they should be as attractive as possible. But that's not really the case for Carmen. It's not good enough, and it might even be counterproductive: the whole thing about her (or at least one thing about her) is rejecting conventional societal ideas, and that includes standards of beauty. What she really needs to be is magnetic; to have this dangerously alien, seductive feel, along with the kind of fatal charm that would lead a dopey schmuck like José to murder, and Antonacci has that down, I can tell you.

What's interesting is that, as operas go, even the big parts here aren't that big, comparatively speaking. I think it's because the music is really spread out among even minor characters. But of course Carmen remains the biggest, and a great role. I think we sometimes take "L'amour est un oiseau rebel" for granted, just because it's so familiar, but goddamn is that an absolutely perfect aria, even if "perfect" is impossible to define in the situation and probably meaningless. It's just so sinuous, the music perfectly complementing the lyrics. And really, after hearing it, dumb ol' José has no one to blame but himself. Can't say she didn't warn him.

Don José (Jonas Kaufmann)

José is really the viewpoint character of the opera. Carmen herself is too closed-off and in many ways unknowable to serve that function. Still, I would like to hear a female perspective. 'Cause I'm not gonna lie: I was in a situation once where I felt like Don José, or would have had I been into opera at the time, though I should emphasize that this never led to murder or violence of any kind (and seriously, if he'd just given himself a day or so to cool off, he probably would've realized that not worrying about this woman was actually a huge relief, and everything would've been fine). And yet, that might be a situation that half of the population cannot identify with. I don't know!

But to me, anyway, he's very effective as a protagonist. You can feel his anguish, for sure. But the weird thing is, his actual dang music is way less interesting than any other significant character in the opera. Sure, you have "La fleur que tu m'avais jetée" (the "Flower Song"), and sure the final scene is, like, climactic, but what else? Not that much else, I feel! I get that a tenor would see this role as desirable, in that it's the male lead of one of the biggest operas ever, but is it really that terrific? It feels like putting a star of Jonas Kaufmann's caliber in the part is sort of like machine-gunning a mosquito.

Escamillo (Ildebrando D'Arcangelo)

Another role I kind of wonder about. Sure, swaggering about is fun, and you do have your big hit aria, but you really don't have much else. His knife-fight duet with José is all right, and then there's a short love duet with Carmen and that's it. And the character, of course, is incredibly shallow; there's not a lot you can really do to deepen him.

Still, D'Arcangelo does a great job with him; the best I've seen. I know him for playing Dulcamara in several productions of L'Elisir, but he neatly slots into this very different role. I feel like a lot of the time the baritone playing him just characterizes him as a cocky douchebag; D'Arcangelo doesn't play it against the grain or anything, but he makes him legit charming and suave in a way where you can see how Carmen would be into him. But ultimately, when it comes to Escamillo, all you really need is a confident motherfucker who can belt out "Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre," and we dang well get that here.

Micaëla (Norah Amsellem)

A lot of people don't like Micaëla, seeing her as the conventional "good girl" in contrast to the more colorful Carmen, which I guess she is, but guess what? I like her anyway! I wish she didn't just disappear, but aside from that!

(And, side note, but the one slightly off thing in the libretto is the way José goes off with her at the end of the third act to see his dying mother and then just reappears in the fourth, never mentioning it and seemingly having been wholly unaffected by it. Also, imagine the two of them having to be in close proximity for however many days it took to get there. Did they make small talk? Aaaaawkwaaaard!)

I just feel bad for her, being abandoned by her fiancé for a woman for whose murder he'd later be hanged. That's rough. And yet, I feel like she's gonna get through it. Her entire role but especially her great aria "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante" make me think that she's really quite mentally strong. I'm rooting for her, and Norah Amsellem is quite good. For this role, you'd want a conventionally attractive woman to contrast with Carmen, and dammit, I think there are sexist elements in this article. So it goes.

Frasquita and Mercédès (Elena Xanthoudakis and Viktoria Vizin)

How 'bout these two, eh? They're Carmen's friends, whose names you probably wouldn't know without looking them up. But they actually get a lot to do, notably sing in the operetta-ish quintet "Nous avons en tête une affaire;" "Melons! Coupons!" (the "Card Trio"), in which they're goofing around using the cards to make up fantasy futures (Mercédès is the one who wants to be a rich widow) until Carmen comes in and predicts only the ineluctability of her own death (possibly my favorite number in the opera); and the further trio "Quant au douanier c'est notre affaire," where they try to shake off her black thoughts by singing about how they're going to flirt their way past the customs officers. I think you could argue that considered as one character, they're as important musically as Escamillo or Micaëla.


The point is, I like them, and it seems like it would be a good sneaky opportunity for a low-profile singer to get a good bit of exposure, since the roles are considered small but you're still doing quite a bit. And the singers I've seen in the roles all really seem to get that and dig into them with relish, Xanthoudakis and Vizin being no exceptions.

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Of course, there's still the question of why Carmen lets herself be killed. You can--and a lot of people do!--say that it's just her defiant attitude and refusal to give in, which I suppose is a conventionally feminist reading but one that really fails to consider her morbid obsession with the inevitability of her own death. I don't know if there's a good answer or if there needs to be. But one thing's for sure: we ought to be able to judge for ourselves! And on that note, check this out:

So it's "Si tu m'aimes, Carmen," the duet between her and Escamillo. And she declares her deep love for him. But what exactly does she say? Well, in this production, per the subtitle, it's "I've never loved anyone as much as you." But that sort of took me aback, because I distinctly remember that the last Met in HD version I saw had it "I'll love you 'til the day I die." In most cases this wouldn't be super-important, but dammit, there's a mystery here, and you're not helping by obscuring the text and changing what it says! Whichever one of you is wrong here really botched it.

So naturally, I went to the libretto, and, whoops! the direct English translation is actually "may I die if I've ever loved anyone as much as you." For fuck's sake, people! You both managed to screw up, only in slightly different ways! What an idiotic display! Do better.

There's one more thing I want to say, that isn't really related to the opera itself and which nobody really has any reason to care about. But! Here it is anyway! There are three Live in HD performances of Carmen available, from 2010, 2014, and 2018. They're all the same production (a very sturdy one, set in Fascist Spain), so they're all basically the same, but there are a few differences! The most prominent one being this: in both the 2010 and 2018 performances, in the final act José stabs Carmen and then supports her as she slumps to the ground so that she dies in his arms. Okay, that works. But in the 2014 one (with Anita Rachvelishvili), he stabs her and then stands back, while she sways there for a few moments and then just pitches over on her face. I suppose it's more athletically impressive than the other way, but it seems to lend a possibly-undesirable air of bathos to the proceedings. Weird choice.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Richard Strauss, Feuersnot (1901)

Regardless of anything else about this opera, it has to be said: it has "snot" in the title.  This is a grave flaw.  I suppose Deutschephones would argue that that's not the piece's fault, and indeed that it's only my provincial narrow-mindedness that's causing me to make a big deal about it, but I disagree.  Change it at once.

It takes place at a solstice festival.  There's this sorceror called Kunrad who comes to town and causes a commotion.  He inappropriately kisses Diemut, the mayor's daughter, so she plays a trick on him where he's stuck in the air in a basket.  So he summons, like, a big ol' curse, and the festival fires are all out, and the only way to bring them back is through, um, a virgin.  So all the townspeople sing a chorus where they insist that Diemut should go and take one for the team, to which she finally accedes.  This is presented as a triumphant moment, to be clear.  And that is that.

So yeah!  That ending!  It's kind of shockingly unacceptable on any level, innit?  Well, okay, not "any level"--I'm fully aware that an apologist would point out that contemporary sexual ethics are very much not the point of the piece; the characters are just playing a part in ancient fertility rituals.  But dude.  Seriously.  Come on.  How can you possibly expect that to play to a modern-day audience or--I would have hoped--even one in 1901?  Shit, dude.  You could probably make this seem a bit less repellent through the production, but this one, alas, does not.  In fact, I'd say they kind of do the opposite: look, I am not impugning Dietrich Henschel as a person, but his Kunrad is extremely smug and douchey-looking, which just makes things worse.

As for the production, it's pretty jumbled--a sort-of modern-day thing but sort of not, with a lot of abstraction and irritating background people making exaggerated, cartoony gestures, which in no case worked well.  Still, I do have to admit, the part at the end where all the people are waving ribbons to simulate the bonfire was cool.  Never let it be said that ol' GeoX refused to admit that a cool thing was cool.

It's interesting musically, though, I'll give it that.  I mean, not great, but also not like any Strauss opera I've seen before.  Broadly romantic, but you certainly wouldn't confuse it with later Strauss music.  Because it's not as good?  Well...that's certainly an aspect of it, but still!  It's not too bad!  Probably worth seeing!  On the whole, though, this is certainly the least essential Strauss I've seen, and certainly not a vital part of anyone's operatic education.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Rolf Liebermann, Leonore 40/45 (1952)

Well...it's my first opera with a slash in the title, I'll tell you that much.  This is a rare one, which possibly hadn't been performed since the fifties; the page is a bit cagey about that.  But now we can see it because of Theater Bonn and Operavision. Hurray!

So as you might guess, this takes place during World War II.  It's sung in a mixture of German and French.  Albert is a music student; he and his father are listening to Fidelio on the radio (hence the title), when word comes down that everyone's being enlisted, so he reluctantly joins up.  In occupied France, he meets Yvette, a French woman working with the Resistance.  They fall in love, obviously, but then Albert is forced to leave with his regiment and they loose contact.  Oh, did I mention the angel?  There's this guardian angel, Emile, who introduces the opera and at several points intervenes to make things turn out better.  In the second part, the War's just ended, and Albert and Yvette are looking for each other.  She learns from Emile that he's working at a music store, and so she goes to apply for a job there (it's extremely unclear what the whole job thing has to do with anything; it feels like she's engaging in this really pointless subterfuge).  At any rate, the two of them are reunited; a tribunal doesn't want them to get married because France and Germany are still considered enemies, I guess, which I don't totally understand: if the War's over it's over, innit?  You can't maintain enmity indefinitely.  Regardless, Emile tells everyone to knock it off, and the marriage can proceed.

It's not entirely clear what the message is here.  It feels like there's supposed to be some sort of darker subtext, but it doesn't come across.  The final chorus involves everyone singing about "the best of all worlds," making you expect some kind of Panglossian irony, but...who can say.  At the end of this production, a Nazi flag appears out of nowhere, which is obviously a message (and an extremely relevant one these days), but that must've just been a production decision, so who knows.

Regardless, I liked this quite a lot.  The operavision page says that it's "rooted in the 12-tone tradition of Schoenberg and Berg" (there's a part in the opera where characters are arguing about twelve-tone music), but it sounds nothing like Moses und Aron or Wozzeck.  That style may have some influence on it, but I honestly wouldn't have gone there had it not been spelled out.  It's mostly pretty melodic, I tell you.  Not my all-time favorite thing, but perfectly pleasant with some memorable moments.  

Also, the production is absolutely fantastic.  It's this sort of expressionistic thing with really cool George-Grosz-looking art and animation mixed in.  A lot of the stuff on Operavision is, sad to say, Regietheater, which is especially frustrating when you're talking about a little-seen work, but this knocks it out of the park and makes up for any deficiencies in the source material.  Theater Bonn?  More like Theater Bomb-Ass!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Dienstag aus Licht (1993)

You don't even know how my heart sank when I checked Opera on Video and saw that another Licht opera was available to watch.  Nonetheless, I did my sacred duty and watched it!  I should get hazard pay here.

I realize the above suggests a jaundiced attitude.  But I did my best here, I can tell you!  This is at least a bit plot-heavier than Samstag...okay, that's probably not the best way to put it.  There's more borderline comprehensible action, let's say.  First, there's a little introduction which is a confrontation between Michael and his angels and Lucifer and his demons.  Eve tries to mediate between them.  Then, in the first act, the two fo them are having a competition, where Lucifer tries to stop the flow of time, visualized as group of dancers, and Michael tries to keep it going.  It's touch and go for a while, but Michael prevails, Lucifer congratulating him but warning that shit's gonna get real.  The second act is a war-war, with lots of video of planes and things.  That goes on interminably, and then at the end we have a weird creature called "Synthi-Fou" playing synthesizer music.  I don't fucking know.  But that's it.

You know, I don't actually dislike the music here, aside from some of the weird, stylized yelping that characters do.  It's ambient sort of stuff that would be perfectly fine as a videogame soundtrack.  But here, when combined with the total lack of drama, the whole thing gets excruciatingly boring, which is really the only way I can describe the piece as a whole.  I've already rehearsed my uncertainty here: am I missing something, or does this just suck?  I mean, if it does, it certainly doesn't suck in a slapdash, tossed-off way; there is clearly a great deal of artistry and consideration behind its suckiness.  But it's just very, very difficult for me to watch this and not think, GOOD GOD WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO WATCH THIS?!?  I must leave the possibility open that it's better in person, and maybe a fan would be able to convince me of its merit.  But come on, man.  I must be permitted to have my own opinions, and my main one right now is that I never want to see another Licht opera, although I definitely will if more become available 'cause that's how I roll.  Masochistically, apparently.