An Operatic Point of View

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by Featured Guest on April 6, 2011

By Carnivore

Troll King commented the other day:

So which is it? Have women always been seen as virtuous or as evil?

Well, let’s see. It has often been noted here, at The Spearhead, that today TV and movies portray men generally as:

  • Bumbling idiots, especially men in a family setting, such as fathers, husbands, brothers and sons
  • Villains who are evil to the core, who could give Hitler and Stalin lessons.

In either case, strong, confident, virtuous women save the bumbling idiot from himself or save the world from the evil men. In the latter case, the strong woman will inevitably have a perfect figure, wear a skin-tight outfit, weigh about 115 pounds and dispatch ten or more evil, 200+ pound men with her bare hands in the span of a minute or two. I would like to take the reader back to a time when a slightly different view of human nature and the attributes of the sexes prevailed in popular entertainment, this being in opera.

The hey-day of opera was the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century. At that time, opera could be thought of as the IMAX of its day – a spectacular combination of all the arts – music (orchestral and vocal), drama, poetry, painting and sculpture (through set design) – into one super production. As it progressed beyond its beginnings around 1600, opera left the exclusive domain of royalty and became a popular entertainment for the growing middle class. I’d like to present some operas and how they portrayed men and women, both good and bad.

A few points before I proceed:

  • All opera composers and librettists (the authors of the words which are sung) worth mentioning, of course, were men.
  • This article won’t solve our current crisis. It is proffered as instruction on our common, male creative heritage to those who haven’t got an operatic clue. Hope you also find it entertaining.
  • No, the operatic vocal sound isn’t as simple as humming a tune. The vocal technique was developed to allow a single voice to cut through a full orchestra and fill a 1000+ seat opera house without microphones or a sound system.
  • The story summaries will cut out some details to save space.

Clowns

Most people have seen a picture of Enrico Caruso in a clown costume and heard a scratchy recording of him singing “Ridi, Pagliaccio”. (His 1907 recording of this piece was the first record to sell a million copies.) You may wonder what his character, Canio, was belly-aching about. Simply this – he had just discovered that his wife, whom he had fully trusted, was an adulteress and was going to leave him that very night.

Using two common theatrical devices: “the sad clown who has to make people laugh” and “the play within a play”, the composer, Ruggero Leoncavallo, weaves a tragic tale with music and prose in his opera, Pagliacci. Premiered in 1892, it was an instant success. Here’s the story.

The characters are Canio, the leader of a small troupe of entertainers, his wife Nedda and two other entertainers: Tonio and Peppe and, finally, Nedda’s lover, Silvio. Act 1 opens with the troupe entering a small village, setting up their portable stage and announcing a play to be held that evening. Canio and Peppe start to go with the villagers to the tavern but Tonio stays behind. The villagers jokingly ask Canio if Tonio is staying behind to woo Nedda. Canio responds (note that in the troupe’s act, he plays “Clown”):

It’s better not to play a game like that with me.

Listen Tonio and everyone, the stage and life aren’t the same thing.

If Clown surprises his wife with a handsome man in her chamber,
he’ll only make a funny speech, calm down and let himself be beaten with a stick!

But if I should really surprise Nedda, the story would end quite differently.

It’s better not to play a game like that with me.

Some of the villagers ask if he really suspects Nedda. Canio replies, “Of course not! I adore her!” and gives her a tender kiss.

As soon as the crowd has left, Tonio does indeed make a pass at Nedda, but she strikes him with a whip. She has someone else in mind. After he retreats, Silvio appears from the tavern and asks Nedda to run off with him after the play that night. Meanwhile, Tonio overhearing this fetches Canio. He arrives just in time to hear Nedda say “I will always be yours” to the departing Silvio. Canio runs after Silvio but loses him and doesn’t get a good look at his face. In frustration, he demands that Nedda reveal the name of her lover. She refuses. Canio threatens her with a knife, but Peppe stops him and says it’s time to prepare for the play.

Canio is left alone to get ready, overcome with sadness, pain, anger and frustration from the betrayal which he never suspected. At this point he sings “Vesti la giubba”. Given the scene and the strong emotions felt by the character with which anyone who has been betrayed can identify, here is a moving performance by Giuseppe Di Stefano that tears at the soul. Canio feels like a powerless fool, a clown who has to make people laugh while he has a dagger of pain and betrayal in his heart.

Vesti la giubba e la faccia infarina.

Put on your costume and powder your face.

La gente paga e rider vuole qua.

The audience pays and wants to laugh.

E se Arlecchin t’invola Colombina,

And if Harlequin steals Colombina from you,

Ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudira!

Laugh, Clown, and everyone will applaud!

Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto;

Turn into laughs your spasms of pain,

In una smorfia il singhiozzo e’l dolor.

Turn your tears of sorrow into a grimace.

Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore in franto!

Laugh, Clown, at your broken love;

Ridi del duol t’awelena il cor!

Laugh at the pain which poisons your heart!

You might have guessed the ironic plot of the play within the play: Columbina (played by Nedda), wife of Clown (played by Canio) is having an affair with Harlequin (played by Peppe). Tonio plays the servant Taddeo. Act 2 opens with the villagers gathering for the play and Nedda collecting money. Silvio appears and tells Nedda that he’ll be waiting. He joins the audience.

The play begins and the events of the afternoon eerily repeat themselves in the play. Taddeo makes a pass at Columbina, whom she chases off. Harlequin appears and begins to serenade Columbina. Clown returns just in time to hear Columbina say “I will always be yours” to the departing Harlequin. Canio exclaims “In God’s Name! Those same words!” As the play progresses, reality replaces the play and Canio demands the name of Nedda’s lover. She refuses, so he draws a knife and stabs her. With her dying breath she cries out “Silvio” and Silvio rushes up to the stage calling, “Nedda”. Canio, blinded by rage, turns on Silvio and stabs him to death. Canio drops the knife and proclaims to the audience, “The comedy is finished!”

Rigoletto

This opera was composed by Giuseppe Verdi, with a libretto by Francesco Piave based upon a story by Victor Hugo and first performed in 1851.

The opera’s story takes place in the 16th century. Rigoletto is the hunchbacked court jester to the Duke of Mantua. The Duke is an alpha’s alpha, a cad. His hobby is trying to bed the wives and daughters of the noblemen in his court.

The opera opens at the Duke’s palace where a ball is being held. While the Duke is making passes at all the women, Rigoletto mocks their husbands and suggests to the Duke that he should get rid of them by imprisoning them or by execution. The noblemen vow to take revenge on Rigoletto after one of them reveals that Rigoletto is keeping a secret mistress in his home. A Count enters whom Rigoletto mocks because the Duke has plowed the Count’s daughter. You can tell old Riggy ain’t making any friends here. The Duke has the Count arrested. As he is led away, the Count places a father’s curse upon Rigoletto. Rigoletto is visibly shaken.

The noblemen arrange a plot and abduct Rigoletto’s mistress and bring her to the Duke’s palace. When the Duke arrives, he finds out that Rigoletto’s mistress is waiting for him in his bedroom. He immediately rushes to her side. Rigoletto arrives in distress and it’s revealed the woman is really his daughter, Gilda. The Count’s curse has been fulfilled, or so Rigoletto thinks. After the Duke has finished with her, Gilda rushes to her father’s side, half undressed.

Here is where it get’s interesting. While her father is furious and vows revenge, Gilda still loves and defends the Duke, despite him having just pumped and dumped her. Of course, this is no surprise to Spearhead readers. The father and daughter sing a duet, where he’s set on revenge (vendetta) and she begs him to forgive the Duke (here Placido Domingo and Julia Novikova):

Rigoletto and Gilda

Rigoletto: Yes, revenge, terrible revenge is all that my heart desires.

Gilda: O my father, what a fierce joy

Rigoletto: The hour of your punishment hastens on,

Gilda: do I see in your eyes!

Rigoletto: that hour which will be your last.

Gilda: Forgive him and then we too may hear

Rigoletto: Like a thunderbolt from God,

Gilda: the voice of pardon from Heaven.

Rigoletto: the jester’s revenge shall strike you down.

Gilda: Forgive, forgive!

Rigoletto: Revenge! Revenge! No! No!

Gilda: He betrayed me, yet I love him; great

Rigoletto: God,

Gilda: I ask for mercy on this faithless man!

The final act finds Rigoletto and his daughter in a shady part of town by the house of Sparafucile, the assassin. The Duke is inside and Rigoletto impresses on Gilda, who’s still in love with the Duke, that the Duke has forgotten about her and is now trying to seduce Maddalena, the assassin’s sister. Here is where the Duke sings his famous aria, La donna e mobile (this example by Luciano Pavarotti; note Gilda at the window watching while he seduces Maddalena). You’ve probably heard the melody before, if not the aria. Get a load of what he’s singing – no comment needed:

La donna è mobile qual piuma al vento,

Women are as flighty as feathers in the wind.

Muta d’accento e di pensiero.

She changes her voice and her mind.

Sempre un amabile leggiadro viso,

Always a sweet, pretty face,

In pianto o in riso È menzognero.

but in tears or in laughter, she is always a liar.

È sempre misero chi a lei s’affida,

He is miserable who trusts in her and

Chi le confida mal cauto il core!

he who confides in her – his unwary heart!

Pur mai non sentesi felice appieno

Yet one never feels fully happy

Chi su quel seno non liba amore!

who does not drink love on that bosom!

Rigoletto makes a deal with the assassin for the Duke’s life. He will return with the money at midnight in exchange for the Duke’s body in a sack. Rigoletto instructs Gilda to put on the clothes of a man so they can escape later. They depart.

Gilda returns dressed as a man. She overhears Maddalena plead with her brother to spare the Duke’s life. He agrees, if he can find a substitute by midnight. Gilda still loves the Duke despite having been dumped by him and seeing him seduce another woman. She decides to sacrifice herself and enters the house. The assassin, realizing this is the looked-for substitute, mortally wounds her.

Rigoletto returns at midnight with the money and receives a body in a sack. He gloats and drags the sack to the river in order to dump it. At that moment, the Duke does a repeat of La donna e mobile, and Rigoletto, hearing it, realizes he’s been tricked because the Duke is still alive. He opens the sack to find his daughter, who dies in his arms (picture at the top). He screams out in horror, “The curse!” – the Count’s curse has finally been fulfilled.

All Women are Like That

Did that title get your attention? The title of Mozart’s opera, Cosi fan tutte would more accurately translate to “Thus do all” with “all” referring to women. Sometimes, the title is given as “Thus do they all” and even “The School for Lovers” but “All women are like that” seems to be more common. Unlike the previous two operas, which are tragedies, this one is a comedy. Mozart is the composer but the libretto is by Lorenzo Da Ponte, who had a very interesting life. He was the first professor of Italian literature at Columbia College (now Columbia University, New York City). The opera premiered in 1790.

To keep it easy, I’ll simplify the characters’ names to English equivalents. The male leads are Ferd and Will, two young soldiers whose fiancées are Dora (Ferd) and Lily (Will). Dora and Lily are also sisters. Their maid is Thorn, and lastly, there’s the old philosopher, Al.

The opera opens in a coffeehouse with Al discussing women with Ferd and Will. The soldiers are certain that their fiancées will always be failthful while Al thinks they are just being naïve. Al bets them that he can show the sisters would be unfaithful within 24 hours because all women are the same. He swears them to secrecy and requires their pledge to do whatever he says. They agree.

The scene shifts to the two sisters. Al arrives and announces the bad news that the soldiers have been called to war. Ferd and Will arrive and the couples say their tearful farewells all the while pledging their love and faithfulness. Al laughs to himself. After the couples depart, Al gloats at what he thinks will be an easy win:

Oh, poverini!

Oh, poor fools!

Per femmina giocar cento zecchini?

To bet a hundred sequins on a woman!

«Nel mare solca e nell’arena semina

“He who builds his hopes on a woman’s heart,

E il vago vento spera in rete accogliere

Ploughs the sea and sows on sand

Chi fonda sue speranze in cor di femmina.»

And hopes to snare the wind in a net.”

The scene shifts to the sisters’ home. The sisters are pining for their lovers. Thorn, the maid, arrives and asks what is wrong. When they tell her the men are off to battle, she laughs and says so much the better for them since they will come back crowned with laurel (i.e. victory). When the girls protest that they might be killed, Thorn says so much the better for the sisters because they lose those two and all the remaining men are left.

When the ladies protest that they would die if their lovers were to be killed in battle, Thorn replies that is what they think but they wouldn’t do it because no woman has ever died for love or a man – there’s plenty more where the two soldiers came from. She admonishes the sisters to not waste their time with tears but to find new lovers because their men will be doing the same.

The sisters leave and Al returns to bribe Thorn to help with the plot and with a promise of more money if the plot succeeds. He introduces her to two Albanian princes who will attempt to woo the sisters. What Al doesn’t tell Thorn is that the Albanians are really Ferd and Will in disguise. Since Thorn didn’t recognize them, he’s certain Dora and Lily won’t either. The plot is for each soldier to woo the other’s fiancée. The sisters return and the Albanians declare their love and demand a kiss. The sisters turn them away to the men’s secret delight.

Act 2 opens with Thorn urging the sisters to fall for the Albanians. She tells them that since their fiancées have gone to war, they, too, should act like the military and recruit new lovers! Dora confesses that there couldn’t be any harm in a little flirting and Lily agrees.

The Albanians return and proceed to woo the women. The sisters eventually succumb. Later, the men express their anger to Al and swear off marriage. Al recommends, however, that they go ahead and marry them (sung here by Nicolas Rivenq):

Tutti accusan le donne, ed io le scuso

Everyone accuses women, but I excuse them

Se mille volte al dì cangiano amore;

for changing their affections a thousand times a day.

Altri un vizio lo chiama ed altri un uso,

Some call it a sin, others a habit,

Ed a me par necessità del core.

But it seems to me a necessity of the heart.

L’amante che si trova alfin deluso

The man who finds himself deceived

Non condanni l’altrui, ma il proprio errore;

should not blame others, but his own illusions

Già che giovani, vecchie, e belle e brutte,

Be they young or old, beautiful or ugly,

Ripetetel con me: «Così fan tutte!»

Repeat after me….. “All women are like that!”

And Ferd and Will repeat: “All – women – are – like – that!”

The final scene goes through some confusion with the soldiers “returning” and chasing after their rivals. All is finally revealed and all are forgiven. Al collects on his bet and Thorn gets her share.

Lucy of Lammermoor

Lucia di Lammermoor is a tragic opera by Domenico Gaetano Donizetti. The libretto is by Salvadore Cammarano and based upon Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Bride of Lammermoor. It premiered in 1835.

The opera is set in late 17th century Scotland and the plot takes many twists and turns. To very briefly summarize, the Ravenswood and Lammermoor families have been a feudin’. The Lammermoor family has fallen on hard economic times and Lucy’s brother wants her to marry the wealthy Lord Bucklaw. Of course, Lucy doesn’t want to, because she just happens to be in love with – whom else – the head of the rival Ravenswood clan, Sir Edgar whom Lucy’s brother hates.

Sir Edgar goes away on a political trip to France. While he is gone, Lucy’s brother does everything he can to get her to marry Lord Bucklaw – intercepting all of Sir Edgar’s letters; spreading rumors that he has another lover etc. Finally, Lucy concedes to marry Lord Bucklaw and signs the wedding contract. At that very instant, Sir Edgar returns to claim his wife.

Let’s take a break here. It’s at this point that Sir Edgar begins the famous sextet from the opera, “Chi mi frena”. Donizetti’s genius weaves the music and singing of six characters into one fabulous presentation. (Sung here by Jose Carreras as Sir Edgar in a great production with period costumes.) Of course, guys in the USA might better recognize the melody here or here at 2:14.

Anyway, back to Lucy. Edgar curses Lucy and is forced out of the castle. The wedding goes through with Lucy and Lord Bucklaw. As the marriage celebration takes place in the great hall of the castle, it is announced that Lucy has gone mad and killed her husband in the bridal chamber. Lucy appears drenched in blood (picture) and sings the famous “Mad Scene” aria where she imagines that she is married to Sir Edgar. Lucy collapses and is dying. Edgar is meanwhile waiting for a duel with Lucy’s brother when he learns she has died calling for him. Seeing that she really did love him all along, he stabs himself in order to meet her in heaven. Only in an opera, eh?

There you have it – woman as killer, adultress, fickle & unfaithful lover and a thug’s lover. Not the typical female character seen today.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

wavevector April 6, 2011 at 14:43

“There you have it – woman as killer, adultress, fickle & unfaithful lover and a thug’s lover. Not the typical female character seen today.”

No, but very typical of actual females today.

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Traveller April 6, 2011 at 14:59

Nice piece.

The translations you are writing from this archaic Italian are really lousy, but I have vague idea of the shades of meaning of many English expressions (English people like possessives: “il core” = “the heart” and not “his heart” – modern word “cuore”).

Mismatched lines, here cut and re paste:

Nel mare solca e nell’arena semina
=Ploughs the sea and sows on sand

E il vago vento spera in rete accogliere
=And hopes to snare the wind in a net.

Chi fonda sue speranze in cor di femmina.»
=He who builds his hopes on a woman’s heart

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Uncle Elmer April 6, 2011 at 15:04

Fascinating, thanks Carnivore.

Am reminded of Micro-Phonies, one of my favorite Stooges episodes, where the boys sing “Sextet from Lucia” :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyZ8umpbLsI

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Traveller April 6, 2011 at 15:16

I wrote lousy, I meant loose :)

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Opus April 6, 2011 at 15:17

At Last Opera!

My beef at the moment is over Don Giovanni (alpha-male). In the first half hour we are introduced to no less than three women: Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Zerlina. Leporello keeps a list of Giovanni’s conquests – 1003 in Spain and that’s just one country, yet recent female producers attempt to portray Giovanni as a Rapist, and I say that is typical female false-rape nonsense.

The Opera begins with Giovanni leaving the house of Anna (he’s had sex – but she has buyers remorse) and can’t reveal to her stupid father the Commendatore (who if you listen to Octavio’s, first aria – who she clearly lies to; a real beta – is almost certainly incestuously involved with his daughter). The Commendatore picks a fight, and stands no chance and is killed. His fault, and all because of his slutty daughter, but of course Anna persuades Ottavio to seek revenge. Next up is Elvira. You know the type: the slut who thinks that because she has slepped with an alpha-male he should marry her. Then Zerlina, who is easily seduced by wealthy Giovanni (hypergamy) – it’s her Hen Night. Oh- the music is not bad either!

Can we do Jenufa tomorrow?

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Savethemales April 6, 2011 at 15:46

Bumbling idiots, especially men in a family setting, such as fathers, husbands, brothers and sons

If men are such “idiots” and women are so “empowered”, surely women would be happy for all men to go their way. Well, women are getting their wish as men are indeed avoiding women. By 2020, hot virtual reality girls will separate the genders and we shall see how women do on their own without us “idiot” men.

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Opus April 6, 2011 at 15:50

As Carnivore has written about Cosi Fan Tutte, may I say something which in fact I was thinking about only today: Wagner and most people in the 19th century hated it, indeed the earliest Production at London’s Covent Garden was as late as 1968 yet from a recent survey it is ranked ninth most popular opera right now. So what did people so dislike about it until so reccently: What seems to have upset them is that Dorabella and Fiordiligi are seen to be fickle! They swear eternal love to their departing lovers and then are ‘gamed’ by two albanians. These girls are sluts!

By the way surely the best operatic Cougar is The Marschelin in Rosenkavalier (with her seventeen year old toy-boy).

Ther are of course no popular operas by female composers although there are a few. I doubt this can ever change.

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oddsock April 6, 2011 at 16:09

OOOh ! How ironically spooky this topic was just posted.

From time to time I like to research my family history and just tonight I discovered a news paper clipping about a 9 month old baby that had been dicovered drowned in a bucket of water at my great great grandmothers house. I cant make the exact date out but it looks around 1890 or maybe 1900. She lived on “Witches Lane”. Doesn’t really say much else.

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universe April 6, 2011 at 16:09

I am tempted to agree with the pondering of Sir Kenneth Clark when he mused over opera. That indeed it was an elegant storytelling in voice and orchestration, with all the displayed vocal talent and professionalism but having the appearance of futility and madness.

But, Carnivore, as by your synopsis of ‘Cosi fan tutte’, there appears to be method after all. You have a convert here ( looks left and right, not telling my hockey buddies this! ) but only for stories such as you’ve provided. That is, after my ground dragging knuckles heal.

There you have it – woman as killer, adultress, fickle & unfaithful lover and a thug’s lover. Not the typical female character seen today.

– Yup, that’s what we get when popular monied politics and all that follows from it decides to foster the fictional over the real.

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Carnivore April 6, 2011 at 16:18

The translations you are writing from this archaic Italian are really lousy,

Yeah, I took some liberty. Most of the libretti translations are copyrighted and they also tend to lose some of the original intent when going from Italian to English because they want the English to be poetic as well. So, I compared at least two translations and used Google translate as the third. Unfortunately, I only know a word or two in Italian.

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Carnivore April 6, 2011 at 16:21

Can we do Jenufa tomorrow?

Nah, if you want to raise some hackles here, do Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry).

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Peter April 6, 2011 at 16:23

This is probably one of the best Spearhead articles I’ve read. It’s ironic that opera isn’t suppressed by modern matriarchal culture only because it’s in a foreign language and can’t be understood. I truly had no idea that’s what Pavarotti was singing about! Awesome.

“Women are as flighty as feathers in the wind.
She changes her voice and her mind.
Always a sweet, pretty face,
but in tears or in laughter, she is always a liar.”

Contrast that with:
“She wants to touch me (Woah),
She wants to love me (Woah),
She’ll never leave me (Woah, woah, oh, oh),
Don’t trust a ho,
Never trust a ho,
Don’t trust a ho (Cuz’ a ho)
Won’t trust me.”

How does it even compare?

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Traveller April 6, 2011 at 16:43

Carnivore
“Unfortunately, I only know a word or two in Italian.”
If you want some help with that, just ask.

For sci fi fans,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MR6D7tL38U
Lucia di Lammermoor appears in the movie “The Fifth Element” starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich (I think the song is called Diva).

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oddsock April 6, 2011 at 17:01

Traveller

She has a lovely voice but I am sure I read somewhere that there was quite a lot of digital enhancement on the movie track ?

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BeijaFlor April 6, 2011 at 19:28

Hey, cool! Does that bring back memories!

I took some training in “bel canto” singing in my early 20′s, and learned a couple of those songs: Donna E Mobile and Ridi, Pagliaccio were the ones I chose for recital. Never did anything more than sing in the chorus, but …

Can you name one character in history or fiction that was anywhere near as ALPHA as the Duke of Mantua? (Pity you don’t have a photo of him, from the stage; when Opera portrayed Nobility, those guys were peacocking!!!

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CM April 6, 2011 at 19:39

Very nice.

Older society had a very much superior balanced view of the genders. One can learn allot about women by looking back to older literatures. Of course to say such things today would be classified “misogyny”. But there you have it, in one time period common sense, in another hate speech.

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CM April 6, 2011 at 19:41

Also those men in the video move in allot greater ease and lack of inhibition than the high strung politically correct alpha male of today’s culture. And they’re wearing full suits.

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Migu April 6, 2011 at 19:58

No, but very typical of actual females today.

And yesterday and Tomorrow

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Migu April 6, 2011 at 19:59

One can learn allot about women by looking back to older literatures.

I asked everyone at work if they knew the story of the Sirens. Here was the answer.

I killed them in the desert in God of War.

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Migu April 6, 2011 at 20:04

She has a lovely voice but I am sure I read somewhere that there was quite a lot of digital enhancement on the movie track ?

google some of her non digital work. She is damn good.

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Offended Feminist Is Offended April 6, 2011 at 20:54

Opera is a misogynist tool of the patriarchy!!!!

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Ronin April 6, 2011 at 21:06

@Peter
“It’s ironic that opera isn’t suppressed by modern matriarchal culture only because it’s in a foreign language and can’t be understood.”

Nah, opera is emotional porn for Anglo women yearning for exotic alpha cockas. I brought up the topic of super alpha Silvio Berlusconi with an elderly Italian woman and she remarked that he’s is own worst enemy for bringing all that drama on himself. Basically, keep it old school and private. For fucksakes he control the media outlets in Italia.

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Seamus the Classicist April 6, 2011 at 21:21

Yes, yes it is, OFO there is nothing wrong with misogyny. If something is loathsome, then shouldn’t it be loathed? If certain behavior is reprehensible, should it not be condemned.

Oh wait! I forgot!

Reason and morality are oppressive tools of patriarchy to keep the women from following their every whim. Sorry, please carry on.

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Traveller April 6, 2011 at 22:59

“I brought up the topic of super alpha Silvio Berlusconi with an elderly Italian woman and she remarked that he’s is own worst enemy for bringing all that drama on himself. Basically, keep it old school and private. For fucksakes he control the media outlets in Italia.”

He is illegally wiretapped by communist prosecutors who after give illegally the tapes to communist journalists… difficult to keep privacy in that way. By the way “paparazzo”, it is an Italian word.

And many of the media in Italy are left leaning, so anyone has his preferred news source (just to find confirmation to one’s own ideas). And every one of these news sources stink.

True, I read some of that 5th Element scene was digitally altered, when the music fades from classic to modern trance, the singer declared when she saw the part, no human being could change voice frequency so quickly.

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alpha April 7, 2011 at 00:59

no woman has ever died for love or a man

Something that needs to be remembered

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alpha April 7, 2011 at 01:02

oh and I forgot
HALL OF FAME!!!

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Coastal April 7, 2011 at 01:27

Great article. It’s always useful to be reminded how unusual, indeed absurd, the current arrangements are as compared to any kind of historical perspective.

Reminds me of one from way back in the early days of the Spearhead, the one about the Ancient Greeks and the legend of the founding of Greek – and therefore Western – Civilisation. The Greeks told a tale of how their founders who created Greece out of chaos first had to defeat the Amazons. Talk about an obvious metaphor! Order and civilisation first requiring the defeat of proto-feminists. Even guys in togas knew that liberated wimmins running around were poison to civilisation.

As the saying goes, if only we could go back to the old ways, what progress we would have!

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Vinter April 7, 2011 at 02:20

A modern opera which might be interesting to MRAs is Porgy and Bess. Definitively has lots of gender issues – some seriously bad men (the brutal Crown and the sleazy Sportin’ Life) but the women aren’t saints either – neither the puritan Serena or the broken-willed Bess.

I find it interesting that the well-known “misogynistic” song of the opera, “A woman is a sometime thing”, is in fact sung by one of the opera’s more sympathetic characters: Jake, who works hard and risks his life for his wife and child, offers jobs to strangers, helps the disabled Porgy by playing craps with him (Porgy cheats), etc.

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Opus April 7, 2011 at 02:29

Well, I am inspired to do Jenufa.

Jenufa is pregnant by bad boy Steva. He is going away and has no intention of marrying anyone. His brother Laca (the ultimate Beta) however has the hots for Jenufa notwithstanding that she is pregnant and wants to marry her (but Jenufa won’t as she lusts after Steva – thus showing women only want Alpha’s no matter how they behave – that is to say badly). Baby is born, but as Jenufa is not married the baby is killed by the Kostelnicka (Steva’s Mum). The dead baby is however found and Jenufa is suspected of Murder but the Kostelnicka confesses. Jenufa forgives everyone.

I recently had the misfortune to listen to a programme on Radio 3 of the BBC as to why there are so many grisly operatic deaths for women in Opera. There are of course some great ones like Mascagni’s Iris being sent to her death down the laundry shute, however most operatic deaths are male. Only a feminised BBC could fail to notice male deaths are more prevalent and blame operatic librettists for female deaths. Of course if Librettists were not interested in Women there would be no Opera: If Libretists were female most Operas would be like Gloria Gaynor’s I will Survive. (me me me). Because composers like Janacek (who wrote Jenufa) are able to empathise with females, Opera can be very sympathetic to dreadful women. The BBC might instead of castigating men for female deaths, have noticed male ability to empathise with awful women (Violetta in Traviata another Cougar who fails to she see is getting older, immediately comes to mind).

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alpha April 7, 2011 at 02:42

uh, is it bad that I find that woman in the photo attractive??

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BeijaFlor April 7, 2011 at 03:17

@ Offended Feminist Is Offended April 6, 2011 at 20:54

Opera is a misogynist tool of the patriarchy!!!!

And gangsta rap …?

M’dear, you are an obvious product of your culture. And the only culture I suspect you of having exposed yourself to, is cheap yogurt.

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BeijaFlor April 7, 2011 at 03:34

@ Migu April 6, 2011 at 19:59

One can learn allot about women by looking back to older literatures.

I asked everyone at work if they knew the story of the Sirens. Here was the answer.

I killed them in the desert in God of War.

And then there are the ones whose only “culture” comes from applied zymurgy. (Look it up in Wikipedia. I’m feeling arrogantly pedantic today.)

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DCM April 7, 2011 at 04:01

I have an interesting perspective on women in the time period about which many of the operas were written (rather than necessarily the time they were composed and performed). I hadn’t expected to even consider this when I joined a study of the Y chromosomes (male chromosomes) of men with my family name.
Most of us are descended from some related men who migrated to the colonies from what’s now Northern Ireland between about 1650 and 1710. These men were apparently fathers and sons, brothers and cousins. The name crops up in various versions in medieval Ireland and England but good documentation only begins around Colonial times. The Y chromosomes contain the expected markers typical of England, Ireland, and Scotland and match both documentation and family tradition.
And there’s the surprise for many. Of the couple of hundred participants, only three or so aren’t genetic matches to the other men descended from the original settlers 300+ years ago.
That means that the wives of the men didn’t have children by anyone else except subsequent or previous husbands — and these are documented in family histories. A couple of them might have, as shown by the disparate results in a couple of cases, but these men could be descended from adopted children or people who may have canged their names. We don’t know.
It would be beyond probability that with a 2% exception only men whose forebearers happened to be legitimate responded to the study.
This doesn’t match the genuine studies showing that about a third of children born to modern women (since about 1930) couldn’t have been fathered by the female’s husband. This seems to support the notion that women used to be better behaved than recently — and if they weren’t everyone knew it and they were shoved to the edge of society.
It could also have been due to the customs of this particular family, which was more or less composed of patrilineal clans with the same name into the 20th century. They lived on farms and in small communities and migrated south and west about every 40 years till dispersing in the last century. They were staunch Presbyterians and Baptists as well.
I don’t know how much was community and family pressure and how much personal morality, but I do have physical proof of a case of predominantly faithful wives for altogether about 400 years (the colonists being descended from named ancestors in Britain and Ireland).

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Ken April 7, 2011 at 05:05

This doesn’t match the genuine studies showing that about a third of children born to modern women (since about 1930) couldn’t have been fathered by the female’s husband

And I read somewhere (can’t find the link now) that 1/5 of the modern human gene pool right now has Genghis Khan DNA in it! (not making this up!) Yeah…sugar-tits really chose the thug! :)

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Avenger April 7, 2011 at 07:00

@CM
You mean like these lines from Shakespeare :)

The wiles and guiles that women work,
Dissembled with an outward show,
The tricks and toys that in them lurk,
The cock that treads them shall not know.
Have you not heard it said full oft,
A woman’s nay doth stand for nought?

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Ken April 7, 2011 at 07:15

Good article! :) a point of view not shown too often!
Men being treated as SECOND CLASS CITIZENS has begun thanks to the media portrayal and subsequent laws being passed (i.e. VAWA, “Hate Crimes” legislation, etc.) So looking at history again…where have we seen this schematic used before? Answer: Nazi Germany!~ where the media blitz against Jews, Gypsies, Poles, etc. worked up the population who later would welcome government sanctions against those segments of the population that eventually led to slavery and slaughter of the “undesirables”.
Now, the same thing is being done to men as a whole….only slower and more methodical until one day we wake up collared, enslaved, or god-knows what else.

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Ken April 7, 2011 at 07:19

Second-class citizen is an informal term used to describe a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there. While not necessarily slaves, outlaws or criminals, second-class citizens have limited legal rights, civil rights and economic opportunities, and are often subject to mistreatment or neglect at the hands of their putative superiors. Instead of being protected by the law, the law disregards a second-class citizen, or it may actually be used to harass them. (see police misconduct and racial profiling) Second-class citizenry is generally regarded as a violation of human rights. Typical impediments facing second-class citizens include, but are not limited to, disenfranchisement (a lack or loss of voting rights), limitations on civil or military service (not including conscription in every case), as well as restrictions on language, religion, education, freedom of movement and association, weapons ownership, marriage, housing and property ownership.

-Wikipedia definition of SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN

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Avenger April 7, 2011 at 07:34

alpha April 7, 2011 at 00:59
no woman has ever died for love or a man

Something that needs to be remembered

In fact, have you ever even heard of ONE case where a female risked her life to save a grown man?

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varslandeman April 7, 2011 at 07:43

While we’re on Shakespeare, let’s have a word from the master of advice: Iago, from “Othello” …

“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.”

Who are the petty thieves of today? An exercise for the reader.

Iago delivers lovely smackdown as well …

Iago: Come on, come on; you are pictures out of doors,
Bells in your parlours, wildcats in your kitchens,
Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,
Players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds.

Desdemona: O, fie upon thee, slanderer!

Iago: Nay, it is true, or else I am a Turk:
You rise to play and go to bed to work.

Ah, but you say, what does this have to do with Italian opera?
Why not some Italian tragedy by way of England?

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alpha April 7, 2011 at 07:47

Avenger April 7, 2011 at 07:34

In fact, have you ever even heard of ONE case where a female risked her life to save a grown man?

Nope.

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by_the_sword April 7, 2011 at 08:16

As the marriage celebration takes place in the great hall of the castle, it is announced that Lucy has gone mad and killed her husband in the bridal chamber…

He abused her.

It was a cry for help.

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Opus April 7, 2011 at 09:08

Varslandeman asks what Shakespeare may have to do with Opera after two excellent quotes from Othello. There are of course two Operatic Othello’s, by repsectively, Rossini and Verdi.

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Huggums April 7, 2011 at 09:20

You know, it’s sad that the only time I’ve heard this is in some sort of ironic commercial or as a joke somewhere. Now that I know what this is about and what he’s saying at the part everyone knows, it’s got an entirely different feel to it. Powerful. I cannot stop watching.

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oddsock April 7, 2011 at 14:00

Not wishing to move away too much from this excellent article but seeing as Shakespere has been mentioned, I think we should not forget that oftentimes, within his work, lay many a hidden message. Also cause of much debate.

For me the three witches of Macbeth give a very good description of the putrid nature of women and desire to cause much harm and enjoy the aftermath!

In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!

Double, double toil and trouble;

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BeijaFlor April 7, 2011 at 15:38

Thinking of Lucia di Lammermoor reminded me of a story I’d heard years and years ago, about a (New York) Metropolitan Opera performance to be broadcast on NBC; IIRC, Maria Callas was singing Lucia and Arturo Toscanini was conducting. (I may be wrong about these; if it upsets you, please assume I was wrong about the soprano and the conductor.)

They were rehearsing the Mad Scene, and Maestro Toscanini wanted Callas to finish her culminating insane laughter with a fortississimo shriek up to high F or so. (High C is the practical top of a soprano’s range.) Callas said no, that’s impossible. Let’s try it anyways, the Maestro said, and had her stand by him on the podium while he backed her with the orchestra. Several tries didn’t satisfy the Maestro – then Callas hit it with a truly blood-curdling shriek that merged surprise, fury, and sudden terror into the highest note she’d ever managed on the stage.

“Perfect,” Toscanini smiled, displaying the hat pin he’d jabbed into her buttocks at the precise dramatic moment.

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andybob April 7, 2011 at 18:55

Maria Callas – talentless shrieker. No wonder she was so pissed when she first heard Joan Sutherland effortless coloratura. Callas frittered her life away trying to snag mega-rich Onasis who dumped her for Jackie. Silly, arrogant bitch.
Sutherland, on the other hand, married her childhood sweetheart whose genius guided through many years of hard work to finally dazzle as Lucia in 1059. She had a son (met him, good bloke), grandkids and a career devoid of diva crap. She didn’t need to. She was secure in her talent.
Compare any of her recordings with other sopranos, especially Callas’. ‘Casta Diva’ from Norma is a case in point. You won’t be able to stand the shrill squawkings of other sopranos ever again. Plus, she put Pavarotti on the musical map, the same way fellow Australian, Dame Nellie Melba did for Caruso. He replaced de Resque as her fave partner. He never looked back.
Favourite Sutherland quote:
Pavarotti” (wiping sweat from his brow) Oh Joan. We fat people…
Sutherland: “We” are not fat. You’re fat. I’m big.
La Stupenda 1926-2011, R.I.P. A great Australian.

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David K. Meller April 7, 2011 at 19:54

Thank you, Carnivore, for an informative and entertaining article. It certainly shows how far we, as men, have to go, to recover lost ground!

PEACE AND FREEDOM!!
David K. Meller

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ElectricAngel April 8, 2011 at 12:58

OK, you’ve inspired me to write my article about Die Meistersinger, “Music for the Counter-revolution.”

I never enjoyed Rigoletto so much as last fall, after much reading on The Spearhead and over at the Chateau. The bitter beta is richly rewarded for his passive-aggressive nature, and the blithe alpha gets away with all. It’s well worth seeing live.

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Carnivore April 8, 2011 at 17:48

OK, you’ve inspired me to write my article about Die Meistersinger, “Music for the Counter-revolution.”

Go for it. I usually stuck with recorded Wagner – my butt couldn’t take sitting that long in the seats at Lyric. After I dropped my subscription, they reupholstered the seating in the entire house. Maybe it’s doable now. :)

Seriously though, despite Wagner’s personal failings and his music being hijacked by political groups, he has given us truly heroic, and by definition, truly masculine music. The breadth and depth of his creations could only have been conceived in a male mind.

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