Europeras 3 & 4
Cage's EUROPERAS 3 & 4 (1990) receive their first recording from 1993 performances by the Long Beach Opera (California). This authoritative production was directed by Andrew Culver, who worked with Cage for eleven years and assisted the composer with the preparation of these works.
EUROPERAS 3 & 4 are Cage's "middle operas", flanked by the large-scale orchestral EUROPERAS 1 & 2 written for the Frankfurt Opera and the miniature tourable EUROPERA 5 written especially for pianist Yvar Mikhashoff.
EUROPERA 3 is a dense, tumultuous work and a true celebration of opera. It is scored for six singers singing their favorite arias, six record-players playing classic 78-rpm opera recordings, 2 pianos playing excerpts from opera transcriptions, and the occasional intrusion of the Truckera tape (a collage of over 100 superimposed operas that virtually obliterates the live action) -- a multi-layered and multi-textured 70 minute collage of sound, sometimes almost transparent, sometimes almost opaque, but always joyous.
EUROPERA 4 is just the opposite: scored for two sopranos (again singing their favorite arias), a 78-rpm victrola, one piano (also playing opera transcriptions) and this time a distant Truckera. EUROPERA 4 is a sublimely intimate experience of opera -- spare, whole and at rest.
Cage insisted that these two EUROPERAS must be performed together and never separately -- two contradictory presentations of the same history coexisting in a single performance. And, a unique listening experience.
This deluxe 2-CD set comes with an 80-page book containing notes by Cage scholar James Pritchett and dozens of photos from the production.
"***** Performance. **** Sound.
The Europeras 3 & 4 are chamber works, premiered in 1990, and are here documented from a beautiful performance
give in Southern California last year. The result is not an opera but the world of opera, all at once. Singers choose
arias found in the public domain (Gluck to Puccini); two pianists provide snippets of Liszt piano transcriptions; and six
'composers' operate period Victrolas, on which they play 78-rpm recordinhs, creating a background of scratchiness as
comforting as the whoosh of a waterfall. Chance operations control everything--resulting, maybe, in a counterpoint of
Puccini and Wagner (surprisngly effective) or, maybe, silence. The familiar, here,becomes very new indeed."
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