A Second Book of Operas - Henry Edward Krehbiel

9781449990213: A Second Book of Operas - Henry Edward Krehbiel

A passage from the book... Whether or not the English owe a grudge to their Lord Chamberlain for depriving them of the pleasure of seeing operas based on Biblical stories I do not know. If they do, the grudge cannot be a deep one, for it is a long time since Biblical operas were in vogue, and in the case of the very few survivals it has been easy to solve the difficulty and salve the conscience of the public censor by the simple device of changing the names of the characters and the scene of action if the works are to be presented on the stage, or omitting scenery, costumes and action and performing them as oratorios. In either case, whenever this has been done, however, it has been the habit of critics to make merry at the expense of my Lord Chamberlain and the puritanicalness of the popular spirit of which he is supposed to be the official embodiment, and to discourse lugubriously and mayhap profoundly on the perversion of composers' purposes and the loss of things essential to the lyric drama. It may be heretical to say so, but is it not possible that Lord Chamberlain and Critic have both taken too serious a view of the matter? There is a vast amount of admirable material in the Bible (historical, legendary or mythical, as one happens to regard it), which would not necessarily be degraded by dramatic treatment, and which might be made entertaining as well as edifying, as it has been made in the past, by stage representation.

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