Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Opera About A Guy Who Mistook his Wife For A Hat

Michael Nyman is one of my favorite minimalist composers  - heck he invented the term 'minimalism' - and, apart from his soggy score to the film "The Piano" (his most popular work, of course) he's been a visionary pioneer in the field of experimental "alternative classical" music.  But this 1986 opera is pretty weird even for Nyman. As somewhat of a follow-up to my "athientertainment" post from last week that WFMU said "could make even an avowed athiest hate evolution," this work demonstrates the difficulty of making music about science.

It's based on the popular book by Dr. Oliver Sacks about bizarre neurological disorders. Sure, there's some great music - the melody introduced in "(That's Why) I'm Here" is excellent.  But hearing an opera singer belting out lines like "He's mistaken his wife for a haaaaaat!" is, well, odd. And kinda funny, tho I don't think it's meant to be. That's edu-tainment!

Michael Nyman - "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"

(After clicking the above link, scroll down for a choice of downloading options. You may have to wait a few secs.)


Liz Dobson said...

I absolutely love this Opera. Just a minor point, he invented the term in Experimental Music Cage and Beyond but is at pains to explain that he is not a minimalist composer. Have you listened to his string quartets? Nice blog. Thank you.

Mr Fab said...

i love what I 've heard of his string quartets. Theres one that quotes an oldie, "unchained Melody" I believe, that is sublime. That's funnythat he rejects the term himself since much of his music meets the usual definition of minimalism - the repetition, the chugging rhythms, etc. But lots of musicians hate being labeled.

Myguys said...

Thank a lot for the link, I looking for a long time this musical madness.