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Opera

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 10:24 pm
by tiltbillings
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22478474

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An opera written by composer Jonathan Harvey about Richard Wagner is to be partly performed in Pali, the 2,000-year-old language spoken by Buddha.

Welsh National Opera (WNO) director David Pountney said the ancient Asian language was the most appropriate for the production, titled Wagner Dream.

In the show, a dying Wagner reflects on his own unfinished Buddhist opera.

The original English text for the Buddhist characters has been translated by academics into Pali.

The British composer, who died in 2012, was keen for this to happen to "enhance and clarify the cultural dialogue" of the opera, Pountney said. Wagner's part is sung in German.

"[Wagner Dream] brings together a giant of the Western musical tradition, Richard Wagner, with ideas and narrative elements from the Buddhist tradition," Pountney said.

"We felt that the impact of this cultural dialogue would be enhanced by letting each of these two worlds speak in its own language rather than being confused by both being rendered in a third language, English."

'Amusing challenges'

The Pali parts were translated by Professor Richard Gombrich, president of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, who said the task "brought some amusing challenges".

"In some places we had to split the musical notes in order for them to fit," he explained.

Changes were also made to reflect the fact that pubs and tea - referenced in the English text - did not exist in ancient India.

"I also felt obliged to insert, very briefly, some real Buddhist doctrine when the Buddha himself is speaking," he added.

Wagner Dream will be staged at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 6-7 June, with a performance in Birmingham on 12 June.

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 12:04 am
by Kare
Interesting! Thanks for sharing the news.

:anjali:

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 12:09 am
by Ben
Thanks Tilt.

That is very interesting.
I look forward to hearing reviews about the performance.

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 12:24 am
by tiltbillings
Kare wrote:Interesting! Thanks for sharing the news.

:anjali:
I thought I'd better make it up to you after inflicting upon your finely tuned ears the trashy music that was the sound track to the Russians doing nice things video.

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 2:19 am
by chownah
They think the cultural dialogue will be enhanced by using a language which virtually no one speaks or understands!!! Got to love those artists....they have incredible imagination!!!!!!
chownah

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 8:41 am
by Kare
tiltbillings wrote:
Kare wrote:Interesting! Thanks for sharing the news.

:anjali:
I thought I'd better make it up to you after inflicting upon your finely tuned ears the trashy music that was the sound track to the Russians doing nice things video.
Thanks. But you should not worry. My finely tuned hands know how to find the SOUND OFF button.

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 3:03 pm
by Kare
I'm not going to join the great Wagner debate. But I think that the simple fact that this new opera is going to make some people aware of the Pali texts, is quite interesting. The next step might be to publish the latest bestseller in Pali .... :reading:

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 5:03 pm
by Sam Vara
Thanks for this. I had a vague recollection of Jonathan Harvey, the composer. He was, apparently, very interested in Buddhist ideas and had a regular meditation practice. I couldn't remember any of his work except this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxEGPIEraFA

(Don't feel you have to. You certainly won't be able to dance to it...)

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 6:10 pm
by Lazy_eye
Very interesting. As I mentioned earlier, Wagner may have had Buddhist themes in mind when he wrote his last and perhaps most unusual opera, Parsifal.
Wagner states clearly and unambiguously that when he refers to the purity of Parsifal, he means the hero's karma (i.e. merit or demerit) acquired in previous lives, when the youth had those many names that he has now forgotten. It is through his merit (purity=karma or more accurately, karmic merit) that Parsifal is able to resist Kundry. It is on account of his merit (purity=karmic merit) that the Spear will not harm him, instead it rests in the air above his head (like the magic weapon did in the account of the life of the Buddha that Wagner, according to Karl Heckel, found in Spence Hardy's Manual of Buddhism). It is by means of his merit that Parsifal is able to find the path of deliverance, at the end of which he achieves total enlightenment (perhaps even becoming a Buddha himself) after which, transferring his superabundance of merit (purity= karmic merit) to Kundry, allows her to achieve Nirvana. Osthoff is surely right when he states: "her deliverance [Erlösung] is extinction [=Nirvana] in the Buddhist sense".
Sounds like Mayahana rather than Theravada, I'd say....More on Wagner and Buddhism here.

I hadn't realized until quite recently that Buddhism had a big influence on many nineteenth century figures, including of course Tolstoy -- although their understanding was often sketchy or second-hand and they got a lot of things wrong (the same could also be said of many current-day Buddhists, though). Guess I had always assumed that Western interest in the dhamma was a relatively new phenomemon, but clearly that's not the case.

Re: Opera

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 8:04 pm
by Sam Vara
Kare wrote: The next step might be to publish the latest bestseller in Pali .... :reading:
The Great Forty shades of Grey?

Re: Opera

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:53 pm
by Lazy_eye
For those who are interested, a new article on this was posted yesterday:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbu ... gland.html