The opera [Four Saints in Three Acts] was quietly revolutionary. It used an all-black cast for serious roles rather than minstrelsy, and Stein’s libretto—perhaps unsurprisingly—focused almost entirely on the aural quality of the words, not concerning itself too much with narrative. (“Pigeons on the grass alas./Pigeons on the grass alas./Short longer grass short longer longer shorter yellow grass. Pigeons large pigeons on the shorter longer yellow grass alas pigeons on the grass.”) Thomson later wrote that her writing was “manna” for setting to music. With its shimmering sets made of Saran Wrap, Stein’s mesmeric nonsense language, and Thomson’s simple, repetitive diatonic music, it is hard not to think of his experiments with peyote.This business about Saran Wrap is doubtful. Saran was accidentally discovered in 1933, the year before Thomson's opera premiered. Saran Wrap was not introduced commercially until 1949. It seems that what is being referred to is cellophane.
Sunday, April 02, 2017
… The Knight Errant of Music Criticism | by Christopher Carroll | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)