If the Huffington Post is to be believed- and this is not, in my view, self-evident- "An Inconvenient Truth" is to be made into an Opera with a La Scala debut. My early reaction was somber disbelief, but that has since evolved into a kind of wry appreciation that this might not be exactly the most flattering development for Gore. Says Huffington:
La Scala officials say the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli has been commissioned to produce an opera on the international multiformat hit for the 2011 season at the Milan opera house. The composer is currently artistic director of the Arena in Verona.
My favorite part of that passage has to be "international multiformat hit" which, you must admit, is an interesting way to spin "slide show inspired movie."
It took me awhile before I considered what it really meant for the piece to be converted to opera, but deconstructing it makes the click rather obvious. What is the essence of opera?
1. The libretto is rarely in the native language of the audience, in fact the lines themselves are rarely even understood at all by the audience in any real depth. Even when in the audiences mother tongue, librettos tend to be tortured enough to defy solid listening comprehension. Typically, the libretto author themselves wrote in their non-native language. Teleprompters are required (in less stately productions) to lead the audience through the story.
2. As a consequence of #1 above, it relies for its audience effect predominantly on production, costume, presentation and drama. (This is particularly true of opera seria, for instance). This permitted the protagonist to garner a great deal of fame and recognition and spawned a "star culture" that could easily be said to underpin the origins of the phrase "prima donna."
3. As a consequence of #1 and #2 above, the dramatic elements of the narrative are simple, accessible and larger than life. At the very least, significant dramatic license is used. If it were otherwise the audience would struggle to understand the narrative direction well enough to make it until the first intermission. This was particularly so as opera left the exclusive and more erudite providence of the royal courts and slipped into public (and less literate) audience and this period saw significant "dumbing down" of librettos as well as the increasing influence of politics on the themes addressed. For much of Opera's history, if the production was not "politically correct," it was not shown.
4. Often, owning to the expansive egos of those involved in production, it tends to run quite long.
5. European audiences (particularly old Europe and in what might be termed the "romance" nations) tend to be much more involved and taken with it.
6. The protagonist tends either to be plagued by dense (and therefore humorous) misconceptions, or a deep rooted and tragic (if not fatal) flaw. Either affliction tends to be connected with ignorance (comic or hubristic in origin, respectively). Either way, much mischief is done to the other players as a consequence.
7. The protagonist has the loudest (even if not the best) voice in the production, and the most lines. This can really wear in the bel canto productions.
8. The Germans have a... unique take on it. The English reject it almost out of hand.
On this basis, I must say, I approve.