A few days ago somebody mentioned to me that Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd man come up with an opera about French revolution. A brief research confirmed the rumors and it turned out that it was quite awhile back:
The Roger Waters' interview:
The news attracted my attention as I had my déjà vu moment. The déjà vu was in my general perception of Roger Waters. I have a very high respect to the man but I always felt the he does wrong things. In my many years established view Mr. Waters is a good composer who still did not discover in himself that he is a great opera composer. To be a great opera composer is very very very difficult and not many, even great all-together composers can handle opera. There are tones of operas made by juts “good” but not great composers but those operas are just OK or good but not great operas. There are very few great operas, probably less than two dozen. Great operas are defined by 3 things – presence of melody, presence of own unique immediate rhythm-melogical drama and presence of own inner-modulative drama across the whole piece. How many great operas we had in 20 century since death of Puccini? Good answer….
I always felt that Roger Waters has an opportunity to become great opera composer. The melodic gift of Roger Waters is a gift of very high caliber. Also, Roger Waters is bass player by nature and I LOVE the way bass players write and sing music. The bass players have tendency to put accents in the end of phases or even to the already expressed phrase (the way how bass is played) and I find it superbly appealing. In blues compare the singing manner of two equally ingenious artists: Muddy Waters and Willy Dixon. Willy Dixon is bass player and his phasing is way more sophisticated and less straight forward…. The Roger Waters’ melodies are the same. The meaning of the phase understood by the next phases and the next phase pretty much manages happened before it. Listen for instance a Russian guitarist Igor Presnyakov plays one of the Roger Waters’ composition. I initially would like to get rid of the all orchestration and to the naked core of the melody.
Do you think that it is applicable only for pop singers? Do you know what accidently unites my favorite conductors: Sergey Koussevitzky, John Barbirolli, Hermann Scherchen…?
My first feeling about Roger Waters predisposition to opera I made when I sow live broadest of The Wall in 1990 from Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz. The Paul Carrack singing the "Hey You" in front of the sealed 80-foot-high wall that separated musicians from 300.000 performance visitors I found was one of the greatest accomplishments of symphonic stage drama I know of. Roger Waters singlehandedly destroyed all wisdom of Diderot’s “Fourth Wall” concept that had been warmed dramaturgy for years and years. I remember when I saw it for a first time I did not believe that the will open the "Hey You" secluded from behind the Wall and when they did it was like the effect of Marians landed…. And of course then there was the Trail – my favorite Roger Waters composition. Roger Waters open it with Shostakovich-like sadistic melody that become almost like the Wagner’s leitmotif across the entire Trail and then he string the different characters on this leitmotif, slight playing with the main thyme to accommodate a given character. In the end it come the greatest development Roger Waters even did when he introduces the concussive aria of the Judge. Listen the melodic and orchestration efforts behind the Judge’s singing, ending up with Judge called to tear down the Wall. It does not go more operatic then this and the way Roger Waters did what he intended to was absolutely sunning.
Anyhow, warmed up with my feeling of the Roger Waters secretive operatic calling I ordered the Roger Waters’s new (for me) opera and got it today. I am writing it listening the third act… Well. I still believe that Roger Waters might be a great operatic composer but he is still “in closet” with his calling. The Ça Ira Opera is not a great work, even though it has own very pleasant moments.
The Roger Waters Ira Opera turned out to be a mixed between of Roger Waters’ own “Amused to Death”, the English version of “Les Misérables” Broadway musical , The John Adams wanna-to be opera “Doctor Atomic” and something that Roger Waters did not found yet. The libretto I found is very musical and annoyingly instinctive. Perhaps it would be more fun to hear in French. Mr. Waters need to “get” that opera is not about the orchestration of pathos dialogs (it what Tchaikovsky did in Iolanta) but rather a consumption and development of metaphors. It is not that he does not know it – he was brilliant within the above mentioned The Wall but in the Ça Ira it was very synthetic and almost contrived. Also, I do not like how Waters used orchestra. It was pretty much simplistic rock-and-roll sound only played with symphonic orchestra, the same doe to the singing – it was more like a Broadway show. Behind all of it I need to mention that with all my negativism in the Ça Ira still there are some very wonderfully composed thymes, wonderfull chorus and particular the children's chorus
What it boils down is that I would like to hear the Roger Waters’ next opera, perhaps with better poetic libretto. I still feel that Roger Waters’ has potentials tremendous capacity on opera front. I wish him do not give up…Rgs, Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche