Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Phantom of the Opera

                The plot of the story takes place in 1870 in the Paris Opera House and follows the story of a young woman Christine Daae.  The young girl was brought to the Opera house by Madame Giry after the death of her famous violinist father to join the ballet of the Opera.  The opera changes hands at the beginning of the play and their new patron is Raoulm the Vicomte de Chagny who is an old childhood friend of Christine.  The phantom gives his first orders to the new owners outlining his demands as the Opera Ghost.  The main woman singer storms out of the opera house and Christine plays the lead role for the evening.  The phantom, who has been coaching Christine to sing, leads Christine to his home beneath the Opera House. 

                Christine takes the opportunity of the phantoms calmness to remove his mask only to reveal the unfortunate deformed half of his face.  Enraged the phantom has an outburst and he escorts Christine back to the dressing rooms and away from his home.  The phantom infatuated with Christine sends his directions for the casting of the next opera, with Christine in the lead role.  One of the stage hands is hung in the middle of the opera so Christine and Raoul flee to the roof where they proclaim their undying love for each other and the phantom overhears.  The phantom becomes enraged at the thought of Christine leaving him got Raoul.  

                The story continues to go back and forth between the phantoms love of Christine and Raouls love for her as well.  By the end of the movie there is an understanding of the intertwined relationships between all of these characters and the ways that their lives shape around one another. 

                The Phantom of the Opera video is the musical version of a very popular play.  Most of the story takes place is in the ornate Paris Opera located in Paris, France and is set in the year 1870.  The opera house plots take place in both the main stage and house area of the opera as well as the shadowy depths of the secret passages below the opera house.  The driving force behind the movie is the music and the concepts that the music embraces.  Overall the music and the characters bring the story together and allow the message to be brought across.  

There are many ways that this story could be interpreted.  I think that there is something to be said about Christine and her struggles to choose between two men and the passions of her life being the opera and ballet.  I think that the story line parallels life and the choices that we make.   The ways that the operas plots were similar to the actual things happening in Christine’s life was well thought out.  I also think that by writing the story in such a way Webber was able to expose the art of the opera in a way that people would better understand.  

                I think that the opera was well portrayed through this story.  I think that for someone that had no exposure to the art this particular story gives a good representation of what an opera would include and the type of lifestyle that the people lived in the time period that the story takes place.  The actual performance of the opera would be relatively realistic and allow people to understand what a performance would be like.  The rest of the scenes and the stories of the people behind the scenes gives a more or less historical account of how people lived and how their lives would be set up in that sort of atmosphere.  I do think however that a live representation of the same story gives a different perspective.  Being that this particular story was meant to  be seen on a stage rather than on a screen the way that we view the different parts are changed because of the medium.  I know that my sister as well as a close friend has both had the opportunity to see the play live and they both said that they enjoyed it immensely more than the video.  On the other hand both of these individuals were well versed in the arts.  I do think that as a method of reaching a greater population the video tape version of the story would be better for a more general audience.  For other people who are more experienced in the arts the play version of the story may be more enjoyable and more effective.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Comedy of Errors

1. Describe the Theater, sets, and costumes

            Drayton Hall is a small theatre that seats about four hundred people.  The stage is a proscenium set up with a small apron at the front of the stage.  The stage features four sets of legs that lead to the backstage area.  However, for this particular show they flew all the wings out and there were just flats that made up the edges of the stage.  There looked to be five different flats, there were two on either side to line the backstage area and one that was in the upstage back panel of the stage.  The sets were of different places that made up the town of Ephesus.  One flat served as the home of Antipholus, another the jail, another the church, another the brothel, and another a restaurant.  

                The costumes that the actors wore were of a more modern time period but were very exaggerated and whimsical.  The outfits featured bright unrealistic colors and seemly goofy features.  The twin brothers of both sets were dressed exactly alike to keep clear who was playing who and that was rather helpful.  All of the colors and pieces that the characters wore were very comical in the grand scheme of the story.  

2. In what period does this play take place? Who is the author? What period did the play write live?

The play was written by William Shakespeare, who lived from 1564 to 1616.  He was an English poet that is thought to be one of the greatest writers of the English language.  This play that he wrote is one of his earliest and one of his shortest and most farcical comedies.  The play itself holds references to the wars of succession which would fit any date from 1589 to 1595 but there is not specific on the year that this story is meant to have taken place.  However, the interpretation that the USC Theatre created had many more recent references and could have been set in a more present day although they still used the traditional script. 

3. Discuss the plot

                 The plot focused on two sets of brothers that were separated at a young age during a storm in which their father took two of the children and their mother the other two.  One set of twins were purchased to be slaves for the biological sons of the parents so each in turn had one of each set.   The two that were left with the father in Syracuse went on a quest to find their brothers.  Throughout the story there are numerous mix ups where the brothers think that they are addressing their respective pair but being twin s they cannot distinguish that they are in fact speaking to brother of the other pair.  Because of all the confusion the brothers have many mix-ups.   The play concludes with all of the brothers coming together and recounting all of the mistakes that were mad throughout the day.   

Monday, April 11, 2011

Assignment 8: Opera

1.       Describe the difference between opera, light opera, and musical theater

Opera – An elevated style of musical theater as
defined by the age of Mozart from about 1775-1910

Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score.   It combines many of the elements of spoken theatre such as acting, scenery and costumes, and sometimes dance. 

Light Opera
 Less demanding form of operatic
theater. Incorporates spoken words. Appeals to a
broader audience. Still requires operatic voices and
live orchestra

Light operas or operettas, are light in terms both of music and subject matter with light                                 and amusing character. 

Musical Comedy, Musical Drama, Musical Films
The Broadway musical, music intersperse with
dialogue, less demanding vocally, can be
performed by singing

Musical genres are a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, and dance. 

2. How long does it take for someone to have a fully trained operatic voice?

No one is born with an operatic voice.  It takes many years to train and control the voice in such ways.  The peak performance of an opera singer is not acquired until after age thirty.  There is also a range of pitches that is used to create the sound of the opera. 

Soprano – the highest voice
Mezzo Soprano – slightly lower, with a darker
tone. Sometimes the feme fatale
Contralo – Lower than soprano. Sometimes a
disguised female playing a young boy
Tenor – Opera most famous male singers
Baritone – Midway between tenor and bass
Bass – the lowest voice. Sometime the comic

3. Choose an Opera by Puccini? Describe and interpret.

                Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Puccini and an Italian libretto                  Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.  Based in the short story Madame Butterfly by                 John Luther Long the opera is about events of the early 20th Century in Nagasaki,                  Japan. 
                                      The love duet in the opera. 

The story of the opera sounds very dramatic and seems to focus much of its story on love and relationships.   I think that Puccini was trying to demonstrate the struggles of a relationship and also the idea that we find love in all kinds of strange places.  The way that Pinkerton has his mind set on the kind of woman that he wants to marry I think that he really does find love and companionship in his first wife but not expecting this he ignores is and goes with his original plan.  Overall, I think that this opera is to demonstrate relationships and their inner workings.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Assignment 7: Theatre

1. Describe the difference between a thrust stage and proscenium stage.

A proscenium stage is a stage, sometimes referred to as a picture frame stage.  The primary feature is the large opening known as the proscenium arch through which the audience views the actors and the performance.  The audience directly faces the stage and only views one side of the scene, commonly known as the invisible fourth wall. 
A thrust stage extends into the audience on three sides and is connected to the backstage area buy the upstage end.  A thrust has the benefit of greater intimacy between the audience and the performers than in a proscenium. 


 2. What is the fly gallery?

A fly gallery is a system of lines/ropes, blocks/pulleys, counterweights, and related devices that enable the stage crew to quickly, quietly, and safely fly/hoist components such as curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects, and sometimes people.  The fly gallery is a large opening above the stage known as the fly space. 

3. How does a scrim work?

A scrim is a finely woven lightweight fabric made from cotton.  It is lightweight and translucence.  They are used in the theatre for a variety of special effects.  Scrims both reflect and transmit light.  If a light is shone from the front of the house then both the scrim and everything behind it will be lit.  Lighting from different places creates different effects. 
If a scrim is used with a cyclorama or back drops the colors that are projected on the backdrop the scrim creates a different saturation of the color.  A scrim can also help create a greater sense of depth.  A scrim will appear entirely opaque if everything behind it is unlit and the scrim itself is grazed by light from the sides or from above.
Other ways to use a scrim:
  • A scrim will appear transparent if a scene behind it is lit, but there is no light on the scrim.
  • A dreamy or foggy look can be achieved by lighting a scene entirely behind a scrim.
  • If a gobo is aimed at a scrim, the image will appear on the scrim, but also any objects behind the scrim will be lit by the pattern as well.