Saturday, March 5, 2011

Philip Glass and melody.

I saw the Ensemble Parallèle's production of Philip Glass' 1993 chamber opera Orphée at the Herbst Theater last weekend and I loved it. I got a comp ticket from my very generous blog buddy sfmike, the author of the Civic Center blog, who was also a supernumerary in the show, one of the spooky strongmen/clowns who move everything in the Underworld that is incapable of moving itself. He writes about the many rehearsals and the critical review, which you can read about through the links.

The show only played twice and I will be able to tell people years from now that I saw it. They will be positively envious or I will be silently judging them.

I struck up a conversation with a fellow audience member, a woman named Bonnie who was connected to the new wave/punk scene back in the day, so we had many common points of reference. She loved the production but said she wished Philip Glass was more melodic.

Allow me to retort with embedded videos from the You Tubes.

This is the movement entitled Some Are from Glass' Low symphony, based on side two of David Bowie's great album Low, produced by Brian Eno. Some might argue that this is melodic because the work of Bowie and Eno is melodic, and that argument has some merit.

There is yet another Philip Glass work from the early 1990s called Passages, a collaboration with Ravi Shankar. Shankar plays on nearly every piece, but Glass wrote half and Shankar half. This one by Glass, Ragas in a Minor Scale, is very melodic indeed. I actually have a large section of it running through my brain on heavy rotation right now, and I don't mind a bit.

Again, thanks to sfmike for the ticket to the show, and also for an impromptu Oscar party with a prediction competition that neither of us won, sad to say. Congratulations to Cindy, the winner.


namastenancy said...

I am suitably envious and wish I'd thought to buy tickets but duh - obviously my brain was elsewhere. I haven't heard a lot of Glass' music but I loved the score for the movie Kundun and some of the work that he's done with the Tibetan monks is just glorious.

sfmike said...

Philip Glass isn't to everyone's taste (and I run hot and cold), but a lack of melody isn't one of his problems. He can write beautiful melodies, and has throughout his career. His Gandhi opera, "Satyagraha," for instance, is full of beautiful melodic lines.

Glad you had a good time at Orphee and the Oscar party where Cindy whipped our ass.