5 comments on “Oscar

  1. Excellent, informative article, H.K., covering just about all the points I was curious about – though I did halt momentarily in your first sentence where you describe Wilde as ‘English’.

    Is that David Daniels in the photo? He’s virtually unrecognisable, though considerable padding would have been justifiably necessary.

    There is a snippet of O.W.’s voice (probably available somewhere on the Internet by now) in which he does sound high and a bit squeaky. It was mentioned by our own Stephen Fry when he made the film ‘Wilde’ a few years ago. Fry said speaking in that high range would be so distracting for present-day audiences as well as sounding unintentionally comic. So I do see where making it a counter-tenor role is coming from. But it wasn’t just Wilde. It seems that just about all early speaking male voices recorded then used a higher register than today – witness H.G.Wells’ voice – and G.B. Shaw’s was hardly basso profundo! So one might have thought that if Wilde was to be counter-tenor then all the other male roles ought to have been – unless the composer wanted to use the device to make the lead character stand out uniquely.

    There’s still a dichotomy of views here regarding Wilde’s imprisonment.(Maybe this is what you talked about in your post-opera discussion.) One side, the majority I reckon, see him as a martyr to the hypocritical mores of the time. The other was that he was little more than a paedophile who got what he deserved, those particular acts being performed with under-age rent-boys. It’s the case that were he to be convicted of the same crimes today, his sentence would be more longer. – though, of course, it would be a sentence of incarceration alone, rather than with the additional hard labour prevalent in the 19th century. But whatever view one takes there is no doubt that for someone to have been removed in whatever fashion at the height of his literary powers as Wilde had been was an epic tragedy. Considering his own arrogance, which he’d played up to the hilt, history has rarely provided such a glaring example of hubris.

    I don’t know the composer, Morrison. I like the idea in this opera of Whitman as narrator. Bosie as a dancing character? Perhaps that could work -rather in the manner of Tadzio in Britten’s ‘Death in Venice’.

    In passing, I might say that I think ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ one of the most affecting poems in all literature, one of a very few that can move me to tears – and a crushing indictment of capital punishment.

    Thanks so much for this posting, H.K. You’ve started out on your second year of blogging with a very fine contribution.

    • Oh my goodness! You are correct. Wilde made his fame & fortune (and lost them both as well) in England but was, of course Irish. I corrected it.

      I loved the Frye film “Wilde”.

      I don’t know of Morrison’s work either. His teaching specialty is chorale music. He has written a number of chamber pieces I understand. He wrote a song cycle based on James Joyce for Daniels previously which was, apparently well received. Oscar is his first opera.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      • I’m always happy when someone expands my own horizons, H.K. Thank you once more.

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