A non-operatic opera?

Greg Sandow always raises some very intriguing questions about the future of classical music. In his most recent blog post, he wonders whether the 2007 film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days might make an “almost mesmerizing” opera. (For those unfamiliar with the movie, it tells the incredibly powerful story of a young woman who helps a friend obtain an illegal abortion in Ceauşescu’s Romania.) “There wouldn’t be a single operatic moment in this opera, ” he writes. “Nothing bigger than life, no occasion for melodies, high notes, or arias. (In any style.)” And since ” the movie is unflinchingly realistic…the opera would have to be, too. This would be an opera for a small theater, using a small instrumental ensemble (I think), and unusually subtle singers. They’d have to act just as well as stage actors do.”

I have a few minor reservations about the suitability of this particular film for traditional operatic treatment–it strikes me that there’s almost no room in the story for music of any kind, especially given the emphasis on subtle verbal interchange between the characters–but it would be interesting see if Greg’s conception could be realized. And I think he’s right when he says that “if opera is going to succeed in our era, it should tackle any subject found in other media, and in every style and mood used elsewhere.”

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