Opera . . . Classical vs Modern

Last evening Stephanie and I went to the English National Opera production of Julietta.  Now if you are like me, visions of Romeo and Juliet, colourful costumes and classical set design springs to mind.  Not so.  Julietta, based on the play Juliette, or The Key of Dreams by French author Georges Neveux, is a modern opera written by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů and first performed in 1938.  To say that I was not prepared for this experience is an understatement.

It’s funny how we (I for certain) have compartments in our mind about what certain things “should” be like.  My little opera compartment is mostly filled with experiences of seeing classical opera (Carmen, Madame Butterfly, The Magic Flute, Tosca, La Boehme, Don Giovanni, etc.)  I am used to memorable arias by famous tenors and sopranos, lots of marching about the stage in glamorous costumes, and a chorus of jubilant singers adding to the mix.

Modern opera is very different.  It seems to me that in modern opera the melodic arias are few and far between, being replaced by dialogue (half-spoken, half-sung) and visually stunning set design.  And the story in modern operas is more important than the singing; usually a blend of mystical, mysterious and philosophical ideas about life, love and, in the case of Julietta, dreams. And the staging and set design is definitely modern, if not surrealistic.

Click on the above picture of Julietta to see the ENO video trailer.

But I must say, I stayed awake the entire time, curious to find out just what in this production was a dream and what was reality.  And the story is haunting. A man is enchanted by a young girl he saw only once singing from her open window and thereafter dreams of her every night. He dreams so intently and longingly that his dreams began to crowd out his reality.  You have to see the opera to fully appreciate his longing.

Anyway, Stephanie and I had a good time together.  She loved the performance and her favourite conductor, Edward Gardner was at the podium (we sat directly behind him in the first row – her favourite seat -A12).

All in all a good Daddy-Daughter night out and another learning experience for me.  Who says old dogs can’t . . .  ?

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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1 Response to Opera . . . Classical vs Modern

  1. Frank Tempesta says:

    I’m jealous.


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