Articles Comments

David Porter » Entries tagged with "Brecht"

The Beggar’s Opera: How One Work Feeds Many Reinventions

Like body part transplants, ideas get recycled. One 18th century play with music inspired other art forms in entertainment history, and still speaks today. On the principle that in life nothing is ever wasted, no experience is too insignificant that some creative can’t turn it into a novel, play, movie, painting or song, The Beggar’s Opera is a study in how the arts feed off each other. It also shows how later work can be far more ‘original’ than the first works. The Beggar’s Opera First hitting the London stage in 1728, John Gay’s piece was an immediate success being performed more than any other work in the whole century. It was original in the sense that it broke from contemporary Italian operatic conventions: it used dialogue and music to push plot that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Musicals Are Made From Any Subject Matter, However Unlikely

No theme is too tired, weird, wacky, bizarre or downright unusual, that it can’t be set to music, choreographed and performed on a stage somewhere. Many stage musicals across the world in the past hundred years have featured unexpected settings, stories, places and events. Murder, rape, incest, betrayal, war and politics have become staple fare of the musical adaptation. Treatments of Shakespeare (West Side Story; Kiss Me Kate), Victor Hugo (Les Misérables), Dickens (Oliver; Pickwick), Robert Louis Stevenson (Jekyll and Hyde; Treasure Island) and George Bernard Shaw (My Fair Lady); mixed-race relationships (Show Boat) and the game of chess as US-Russian politics have established themselves in the cannon of traditional musical theatre. Cabaret (1966), set in 1920s Berlin as the Nazis rose to power, incorporated sleaze, corruption and music; The Sound of Music … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Opera Can Be As Unpredictable and Experimental As Other Arts

Opera may be regarded as ‘high-art’ or ‘heavy’, but it embraces themes worthy of as many ‘low-life’ settings, criminals and psychotics as ‘lighter’ work. Interpreting ‘opera’ quite generously, it’s possible to look at musical treatments of stories, novels, people and events, myths and legends and conclude that many of them really are the most far-fetched themes imaginable. It clearly doesn’t matter, though. In early 2011, Britain’s Covent Garden opened a new work, Anna Nicole, about the life of a breast-enhanced Playboy centerfold and television personality who in 1994, aged 27, married 89 year-old oil billionaire, J Howard Marshall II. She died in 2007 of prescription drugs, leaving behind court cases from his family. As Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph’s opera critic said in January 2011: ‘opera is in reality no stranger to the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101