Backstage at the Opera

Arthur Berger

in Reflections of an American Composer

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780520232518
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928213 | DOI:
Backstage at the Opera

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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

Chapter.  3451 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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