Of the Beaumarchais Figaro trilogy of plays, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro live on both in their own right and through the operas that mark cornerstones of the repertory, while the third play, The Guilty Mother, has provided the foundation for a fascinating, challenging 20th-century work.
Neoclassicism in music was an important and striking 20th-century trend…and Stravinsky has often been portrayed as its most eloquent proponent and The Rake’s Progress as its culmination.
"Boston Globe: Did the Star-Spangled Banner land Stravinsky in jail?" An irresistible headline, a famous photograph…but it may all be just a kind of urban legend, “fake news” before its time. The real story is rather more complex and interesting.
John Dryden’s reworking of Sophocles, entitled Oedipus, was one of the most performed plays of English Restoration drama, full of relish in the descriptions of the story’s more violent and bloodthirsty elements that appealed mightily to the public...
Night Journey is a 1947 Martha Graham ballet performed to a harsh, dramatic score by William Schuman, with costumes by Graham and sets by her longtime collaborator, the sculptor Isamu Noguchi. She noted that “the action takes place in Jocasta’s heart at the instant when she recognizes the ultimate terms of her destiny.” Commissioned by the philanthropist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Night Journey had its premiere (oddly) at Cambridge High School outside Boston.
Few concepts from modern psychology have entered the cultural and popular imagination to the extent of Sigmund Freud’s Oedipus Complex. At once a source of revulsion and titillation, the theory that young boys desire their mothers and hate their fathers is named for the ancient myth of Oedipus, who unwittingly fulfills an oracle’s prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill his father and, when he learns the truth, puts out his own eyes in despair. Yet the opera Greek, based on the play of the same name by Steven Berkoff, finds the courage—and the audacity—to turn the legend on its head: the modern-day Oedipus (Eddy) defiantly lives his passion rather than retreating in shame. Is it wrong? Or…could Eddy actually be right?
This Sunday, October 9, the BLO and the MFA will present a program at the museum titled Oedipus and the Sphinx in Art and Music. During the afternoon, you will encounter the mythical Sphinx and her dramatic encounter with Oedipus in various guises, including an elegant and witty scene from the Cocteau play, The Infernal Machine, and two excerpts from opera—a dramatically tense scene from Oedipe by Enesco and a visceral, raw one from Greek by Turnage, a version which sets the story in the tough and brutal world of London's East End in the 1980s.