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Topics - Gefechtsgruppe10

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Interzone / Get your Opera on
« on: November 06, 2012, 03:01:08 AM »
Dvorak has long been a favourite composer of mine.  I've been a fan of Wagner since childhood but other than some limited exposure to Mozart and some Italian stuff, I didn't delve deeper into opera until fairly recently as I needed to expand my horizons beyond metal vocals.  Most singing on popular music (including metal) has bothered me because its almost always badly done in a technical sense.  Most popular singers who are considered good get along more by having compelling voices and not by having good voices.  Plus, most of what they sing about is pretty gay... hence preferring metal voices because you can just not pay much attention to what is being said and more on how its said.  I never took this idea to its logical conclusion until recently;  opera is mostly sung in foreign languages that I only vaguely understand at best.  When I discovered that Dvorak had done some operas that were influenced by Wagner I had to Czech them out for myself.  "Rusalka" is an absolutely beautiful piece that, unlike most other operas I've heard, stays totally compelling throughout its length.  After listening to various versions I chose to buy the version with Milada Subrtova and Ivo Zidek leading as Rusalka and the Prince.  Ms. Subrtova has an amazingly versatile and utterly beautiful voice.  Mr. Zidek is supposed to be in his declining years on my CD, but he sounds earthy and believable in the role of the Prince... I do like his voice quite a bit in Rusalka and Branibori v Cechach by Bedrich Smetana.  To mention Czech national opera bit further, it seems to be heavily influenced by Bruckner for its melodic and harmonic ideas and that is something I find quite appealing.
The story of Rusalka is basically the little mermaid but concerning a river-spirit instead of a mermaid.  It opens with Dvorak stealing Wagner's Rheinmaidens from the Ring Trilogy and improving on the idea by a great deal.  What strikes me about the storyline is that Rusalka wishes to become human for love and uses the witch Yezibaba to get her wish.  She ends up killing her beloved Prince and herself in the end.  The folly of separating oneself from natural law as well as the destructive nature of the persuit of individual ego are strongly highlighted in the story.  All the parties, save the Water King, seem to be acting solely in their own narrow interest and merely exacerbate a tenuous situation.  This is the reason I got the version featuring Subrtova as Rusalka:  Gabriella Benackova plays the part as an 'innocent, delicate' little girl.  As beautiful as her voice is, she gets the character wrong.  Subrtova's steely and vibrato-encrusted interpretation gives one no doubt that she is a  PRINCESS and will get what she shrilly demands.

Here is one of my favourite sections of the opera, just after the beginning with Rusalka telling her father the Water King about her desire to be human and love.  This is the version sung by Benackova as I could not find any good versions with Ms. Subrtova singing.  Ondrej Malachovsky does a great job as the Water King.  This is a 'movie' version of the opera broadcast on communist Czechoslovak TV during the 70's.  I think the costumes and choreography are fucking excellent, and the lip-synching actors do a great job... Rusalka's actress is particularly bang-able.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5lQguMeDOI


And for good measure here is the wonderful Ms. Subrtova doing Mesicku na nebi Hlubokem (song to the moon)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI0aV3kOufw


And for even better measure, and to show the great expressive range of her voice, here is the great Ms. Subrtova and Ivo Zidek singing a piece from Branibori v Cechach by Smetana (really, the only really great piece in the whole opera.  I kind of regret buying this one.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ78ruZ0tns

Enjoy.

Edit to add:
For you pan-nationalists out there, Dvorak wrote the music of Rusalka to take advantage of the natural melodies of the Czech langauge and used a theme from mythology of the Slavs.

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Metal / Opera
« on: October 29, 2009, 07:43:31 AM »
I've really been trying to 'get into' opera lately.  I've listened to 'classical' (and I use this as a blanket term to encompass all pre XX century orchestral type music) since I was a kid.  My mom tried to get me to listen to opera, and legions of idiots constantly imposed "Phantom of the Opera" upon me (it seemed they only recommended it loudly in public, so everyone could see how sophisicated they were...)  That turned me off in a large part because I don't generally follow the recommendations of shallow people with shallow thought processes.  After having watched the movie "Amadeus" again recently my interest was sparked.  The movie, although its historical accuracy is doubtful, is a pretty badass movie and it definately highlights some of the most powerful moments of Mozart's operas; the movie seems to imply, through Salieri's character, that Mozart's operas were his most enduring and powerful works.  So because of all that I have been listening to Mozart's "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni" as well as Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" (with noted National Socialist Karl Boehm conducting) "Lohengren" and "The Flying Dutchman".  I've always liked Wagner... at least, I have had several CD's with ochestral selections (overture's, etc) from his operas that I've loved dearly since I was a kid, but this is the first time I've gone through complete operas.  Several things strike me after this initial, and very limited, exposure to opera.
1.  They seem to wear their librettos like shackles.  Too often the voice is used merely as a plot device.  Instead of voices being just another instrument, they too often become a distracting narrator... "now this is going on, and some shit happens man, and then here were are...."  It seems to be program music in a very bad sense.  Or maybe like a shitty tour guiide - "if you look out of your left window you will see Mt. Rushmore."  In Mozart's requiem and the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony it is the exact opposite... it doesn't matter what the voices are actually singing, the notes they are using and the melodies and themes they sing tell the story in a perfectly clear manner.  Beethoven didn't need someone singing about walking to a folk festival and then hearing a thunderstorm at night or how leaves on a tree can be seen as individual and subtlely changeing leitmotifs in his 6th Symphony... its just obvious.  This leads me to
2.  The librettos are pretty stupid for the most part.  Like lots of metal lyrics, you sit down and actually read them they come off as moronic.  Fortunately in metal the vocals are mangled by screams etc, or in black metal often done in a foreign language.  The rapsing/growling is definately to my liking as it turns the voice into another instrument so the literal words are not as important as the underlying ideas of the music as a whole.  There are many parts of operas where the vocals are done in chorus or done with significant symphonic backing which I think is good, as it does away with the egotistical humanist element engendered in most 'lyricism'.

Maybe I am off base here.  Ultimately, I would like to hear other's thoughts on this.  Hopefully someone knowledgeable could point me more in the right direction as to what would be the most rewarding listening.

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Interzone / Top-down versus bottom-up governance
« on: June 10, 2009, 04:27:38 AM »
"Really, research and technology should be open, but regulated and funded by the government directly (like the military). With corporate shit; it always ends up falling into the pattern of moving two steps forward and one step back. The technology ends up getting paced to maximize profits."

Military technology is a bit strange.  A lot of cutting edge stuff is completely regulated and funded by the government (shit like the F-117) and the more pedestrian, although still large and 'infrastructerlike' stuff (logistics, mostly... something no other country in the world can match us at.  Napolean said, "an army marches on its stomach.") almost completely handed over to the private sector and barely regulated (think KBR).  Other stuff, like body armour and training aides, are completely private companies and rather unregulated, but only sell to government contracts.  In all these areas the United States maintains a lead or at least parity with other industrialized nations.   In things like firearm manufacture we lag terribly behind.  This seems to result from massive regulation and zero funding from the government.  It is insanely difficult to make a firearm for commercial purposes in this country due to regulations that have grown in number since 1936.  The last three great American firearms were all designed before 1930 - the m1 Garand, the 1911, and the M2 Browning machinegun.  All three of these designs are 80+ years old.  Browning would never be able to make guns these days.  There have been no unqualified successes in American design since then, although the m16 (whose initial end-users were South Vietnemese and Portuguese i believe) is a reasonably good rifle... although it is ironic that the Stoner design team ended up doing mostly foreign contracts (the most interesting being the Singapore Ultimax project).
So it seems that some tech is best left closed source (would you have wanted the Manhattan Project to be open source?) while others would probably benefit from a more open source approach (like the current project to find a replacement for the m16) but government funding is always good.  Whether it be direct funding, or tax brakes to companies that build shit we actually need, like tanks or satellites.
I think Public Enemy tried to do something along these lines back in the early part of the decade... I remember reading an interview with Chuck D in which he talks about it.  It sounded like such a stupid idea that I didn't really read it very carefully or even in full...  The best music is usually done by a dictatorial type or at least in a very heirarchal structure.

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Interzone / Hello
« on: June 10, 2009, 12:01:19 AM »
Hello, I am a newly registered member and I figure I ought to introduce myself at the gate.  I have been reading your philosophy/ideology pages for quite some time; I have also been lurking through the forums and using the site as a general metal reference.  I have disseminated info about the site to people I think would benefit from it.  Presently, I hope I can join the forums as an actual, "productive" member, hehe.  Thank you and pleased to... meet... you.

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