Friday, November 29, 2013

Mourning Becomes Electra

I admit - I dropped the ball.  As you can all see by the time stamps on these posts, I have neglected "Breaking the Business" for over 2 months while transitioning from life in the North East to our new Miami home.


Between traveling down here, finding an apartment, buying a car, searching for a job, continuing my Cyber PR work, and TRYING to establish a new daily routine, this blog really just fell by the wayside.  Despite the fact that I am still trying to balance working two jobs, I am ready to restart this blog!

On Sunday the 17th, I was lucky enough to enjoy Florida Grand Opera's production of Marvin David Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra.  Based on Eugene O'Neill's play of the same name, Mourning has its roots in the ancient Greek play Oresteia by Aeschylus.

Filled with passion, betrayal, Freudian psychology (i.e. incest), suicide, and murder; Mourning Becomes Electra follows the Mannon family as they struggle (unsuccessfully) to escape their terrible fate.  Needless to say, I didn't leave the theater wanting to frolic through a field of flowers.

And then there's the music.

This through-composed opera unfolds like a theatrical symphony.  With only one aria in the entire piece, I was in awe of the complex interplay between the orchestra and the vocalists.

Beautifully and skillfully composed by Levy, this piece is the epitome of contemporary dramatic opera. Bursts of atonality and disjointed melody lines were brilliantly offset by hints of heart-wrenchingly sweet motifs and romantic phrases, such as the one here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tomf3v-5Dcg (copyright 2013, Florida Grand Opera)


However this opera is not "beautiful" by any traditional definition of the word.  While the duets, trios, and quartets were undeniably dramatic and affective, the dissonant harmonies and lack of "sing-able" melodies have left some audience members with a bad taste in their mouths.

Negative comments include:


If you notice, all of these complaints are about the content itself (as opposed to poor voices or acting).

So I need to ask: what defines a great opera?
More importantly, what do YOU hope to see in an opera production?


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Playful Performance Positioining

Happy Sunday Everyone!

 Today's post is the second installment of my marketing plans for “Ashfall” by Rusty Banks.


Today's Marketing Plan:

Playful Performance Positioning

Click Link to View Marketing Plan


Background: The interplay between the instruments lends itself to another interesting performance possibility.  A sonic space environment could be created around the audience to help enhance the compositional techniques Banks’ has utilized. 


Purpose: The purpose of this marketing plan is to detail the arrangement and promotional techniques utilized in creating a sonic environment around “Ashfall.”


I would love to know what you think about this one, so please comment on this post, email me, or send me a Tweet @bamazzur!

 

Marketing Plans to Come:


Lava and Lighting

By collaborating with a lighting technician, the drama of the piece can be magnified by using lighting to simulate the darkening effects of a sky filling with ash.

Scene of the Crime

For a truly unique concert experience, invite a small/exclusive audience and hold the concert at the Ashfall Fossil Beds’ Rhino Barn.  A mini series, possibly ties to a fundraising endeavor, that showcases this piece among the fossils it has inspired.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ashfall Animation

I told you I had some new projects in the works!

Today’s post is the first of a continuous series where I create a marketing plan for one specific, contemporary composer.

PART 1: Ashfall Animation


This series’ composer/piece: “Ashfall” by Rusty Banks.




I really dig this piece.  Not just because of how it sounds, but also for it’s unique story.  It’s definitely a program piece.  In a nutshell, it’s a prehistoric description of a mother rhino and her babies being suffocated by the ash from a volcanic eruption.

According to Banks’s program notes: 15 players are required for the work: a string quartet plus double bass, a wind quintet, harp, piano, and percussion.  Three sections of the piece are punctuated with interjections by small music boxes playing themes based on material from the piece.

It’s really a great work - both the first time you listen to it as well as the tenth.  Sonically, it’s extremely interesting.  There’s tons of interplay among the instruments, and the interjections of the heartbreakingly sweet music box and harp break up the heavy drama of the percussion and wind quintet segments.  Keeping the back-story in mind, the piece is quite dramatic.

However, as Rusty had suggested in passing, I can understand how this piece may be difficult to digest in a concert performance.

Possible challenges include:

  • While the back8story truly enhances the piece, some stylistic elements of the piece (namely the music box) may appear random without it.  Program notes are definitely a vital element to the appreciation of the piece.
  • Although 15 minutes is not terribly long for a 3-section piece, without any additional visual elements, it can stretch one’s attention span.
  • The music box contains custom paper strips to play specific themes present within the piece.  Amplification may be an issue if using a manual music box, possibly altering the timbre of the melody.  While it is clear that the purpose of the box is simply for it’s effect, the sound of the box may get swallowed up on a concert stage.
  • The “handful of musical fragments remain present throughout the work” may not be fully understood without additional queues.

Overall, I believe enhancing the sonic interest of the piece and/or adding a visual component to the performance to help illustrate the story line could really lend itself to an unforgettable concert experience.

Thankfully, Rusty already has thrown around the idea of animating this piece (think along the lines of Fantasia).

Today’s marketing plan: ASHFALL ANIMATION

(click the link)


Marketing plans to come:

Playful Performer Positioning

The interplay between the instruments lends itself to another interesting performance possibility.  A sonic space environment could be created around the audience to help enhance the compositional techniques Banks’ has utilized.

Lava and Lighting

By collaborating with a lighting technician, the drama of the piece can be magnified by using lighting to simulate the darkening effects of a sky filling with ash.

Scene of the Crime

For a truly unique concert experience, invite a small/exclusive audience and hold the concert at the Ashfall Fossil Beds’ Rhino Barn.  A mini series, possibly ties to a fundraising endeavor, that showcases this piece among the fossils it has inspired.