“Siegfried falls back and dies. At a silent command from Gunther, the vassals lift Siegfried’s body on his shield, and solemnly carry the dead hero towards the hill-top, with Gunther following sorrowfully. The moon breaks through the clouds, throwing an increasing light on the funeral procession as it reaches the summit. Then mists rise from the Rhine, gradually filling the whole stage until the cortege is invisible and the stage completely veiled in mist, as the noble, tragic music of Siegfried’s Funeral March sounds forth.”
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“And even as this old guide-book boasts of the, to us, insignificant Liverpool of fifty years ago, the New York guidebooks are now vaunting of the magnitude of a town, whose future inhabitants, multitudinous as the pebbles on the beach, and girdled in with high walls and towers, flanking endless avenues of opulence and taste, will regard all our Broadways and Bowerys as but the paltry nucleus to their Nineveh. From far up the Hudson, beyond Harlem River where the young saplings are now growing, that will overarch their lordly mansions with broad boughs, centuries old; they may send forth explorers to penetrate into the then obscure and smoky alleys of the Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street; and going still farther south, may exhume the present Doric Custom-house, and quote it as a proof that their high and mighty metropolis enjoyed a Hellenic antiquity.”
“No intellect is needed to see those figures who wait beyond the void of death – every child is aware of them, blazing with glories dark or bright, wrapped in authority older than the universe. They are the stuff of our earliest dreams, as of our dying visions. Rightly we feel our lives guided by them, and rightly too we feel how little we matter to them, the builders of the unimaginable, the fighters of wars beyond the totality of existence.
“The difficulty lies in learning that we ourselves encompass forces equally great. We say, ‘I will,’ and 'I will not,’ and imagine ourselves (though we obey the orders of some prosaic person every day) our own masters, when the truth is that our masters are sleeping. One wakes within us and we are ridden like beasts, though the rider is but some hitherto unguessed part of ourselves.”
Friday Afternoon at the Opera: Games of Love and Death
Nobody shall sleep!… Nobody shall sleep! Even you, o Princess, in your cold room, watch the stars, that tremble with love and with hope. But my secret is hidden within me, my name no one shall know… No!…No!… On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines. And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!… (No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.) Vanish, o night! Set, stars! Set, stars! At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!
–Original text by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni
“Pushkin employs a vocabulary of renunciation, of denying the thrill that control over another person might yield, but denying as well the satisfactions of sexual involvement. Boris Godunov contains such an alternative, when Boris tells his son to avoid sexual involvement and, in his farewell speech … also warns him not to speak too often or too loosely.”
“A few critics have remarked that my operas have no plot. That’s not entirely true, but I wasn’t surprised. Many contemporary operas have no plot, because our idea of what a plot means has changed a lot since the Italian composers of the nineteenth century used plot to express political ideas. So, the no-plot criticism is valid–though perhaps not particularly important. Almost all of my operas were composed without any thought of the need for a linear plot.
"Contemporary opera–my work in particular, but, that of a lot of other composers, too–is usually a gathering of characters with stories to tell. The why-the-characters-are-together has replaced the notion of plot.”
–Robert Ashley, from the introduction of his novel, Quicksand