Borderland Legend, Carnival Fetes and Cinematic Opera

The universalizing potential (exportability, as it were) of the form inheres not in the words, perhaps not even even with the music, but rather in the contriving of a sense of immortality in the “pagan” telling. (Not the morally grounded or awarded ascent to the Heaven of Blessed Spirita, Glucks dance notwithstanding).If Paganism more or less wins ever and always as legended handmaiden to opera – in that enfolds religion in awe, cosmic conveyance, true (shamanic) mystery, godly prankishness/wilfulness/unpredictability of an a-moral even jealous character, and of course magic: magic both as deployed by numinal divinities or else (as retractable gift), to/for specially empowered mortals. Which is why self-conscious (self-named) opera begins with the Orpheus legend, and is so reluctant to abandon it even today. Tales of metamorphosis/transformation assemble together in one playline all these forces: Orpheus’s remarkable travels through or into and out of inaccessible spaces, the mystery of Eurydice’s jealously reversed salvation, the fickleness of Hades…and (as best known) the self destructive magic of song/music so jealously resented by the competing Furies. Scarce wonder that the still-surviving icon of operatic performance is Orpheus’ yet unsilenced lyre, tne magical tool that facilitated these folkloric adventures, making the performer an imagined but ever-audible immortal. Even a prompter of Dionysian rite (though the latter command over music is traditionally assigned to Apollo because of his role as initiator of harmonic pitch).

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