Monday, June 23


La Incoherenza di Algorino

Far be it from me to dabble in matters political, much less speak ill of the revered first Emperor of the Moon, Al Gore, but I was quite amused to discover his movie or book or whatever A Inconvenient Truth is to be turned into an opera, which will presumably require even more of suspension of disbelief than, say, Tosca or anything by Philip Glass. The person who can be blamed for this bizarre bit of stage-craft and potential camp masterpiece is Stéphane Lissner, who is also the party responsible for the projected 2015 production of Karlheinz Stockhausen's incoherent 29-hour opera cycle Light. (He also staged Candide with one singer dressed as Silvio Berlusconi in underpants.)

My suggestion to the composer, Giorgio Battistelli: the only thing that will save you now is casting William Shatner in the lead role, and then you can say it's supposed to sound that way.

Meanwhile, John Tierney at the New York Times has a ball imagining the composer's presumed difficulties:

Dear Mr. Gore,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my draft of “Verità Inconveniente.” [...] I agree it would “round out the résumé” of Prince Algorino in the opening scene if he were to sing about his creation of a communications network. But the “Mio magnifico Internet” aria you propose seems to me a distraction — and frankly out of place in an 18th-century Tuscan village. I believe the peasants’ choral celebration of Prince Algorino’s wisdom suffices to establish his virtues.

I will ask our technicians about the feasibility of producing “stinky smoke” to accompany the entrance of Petroleo, but it may be unnecessary. Doesn’t the wizard’s evilness become obvious once he beguiles the Minemaidens into relinquishing their buried treasure? (Note: I will try changing “treasure” to “fossil fuels,” but it will not be an easy rhyme.)

Perhaps, as you complain, Petroleo does exude a certain glamour in his patter song promising magic lanterns and horseless carriages and flying machines. But when he seduces the chief Minemaiden, the music darkens with a menacing crescendo as they embrace, singing “Combustione! Combustione!” [...]

I don’t share your fear that audiences will expect Prince Algorino to “offset his travel footprint,” so I don’t see the need for the tree-planting scene you suggest. [...] Algorino should immediately rush back to save Gaia. And why, with his lover in peril, would he pause en route to rescue a drowning polar bear?

[...] and then riveted as she feverishly wanders the stage. With the right soprano, I believe “Basta con la temperatura!” could be an unforgettable Mad Scene.

You complain that it’s a “cliché” for Gaia to collapse and die alongside her lover. Perhaps, as you suggest, we could have her first drape a medal around his neck (although I think the Nobel would be anachronistic). But as much as I admire your other idea for an “outside the box” death scene, I cannot accept it — and again, despite your accusations, this has nothing to do with the scientific criticism of your work. Whether your predictions for sea level rise are correct or not, it would be logistically impossible to end the opera by drowning the village under 20 feet of water.

Giorgio Battistelli
More inspired lunacy here.

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