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Book 21

  1. Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (166 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — Blood Meridian (334 pages)
  3. Moore, Alan & Dave Gibbons — Watchmen (399 pages)
  4. Moore, Christopher — Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (507 pages)
  5. Murger, Henri — The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (381 pages)
  6. Walk with Me: A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009 (98 pages)
  7. Douglas, Lloyd C. — The Robe (438 pages)
  8. Robinson, Marilynne — Gilead (281 pages)
  9. Jerome, Jerome K. — Three Men in a Boat (182 pages)
  10. Satrapi, Marjane — Persepolis (343 pages)
  11. Dodge, Jim — Fup (121 pages)
  12. Bauby, Jean-Dominique — The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly (114 pages)
  13. Fleming, Ian — Casino Royale (219 pages)
  14. Blake, Quentin — Clown (30 pages)
  15. Weigel, George — The Courage To Be Catholic (249 pages)
  16. Ishiguro, Kazuo — The Remains of the Day (255 pages)
  17. Orwell, George — Animal Farm (125 pages)
  18. Garner, James Finn — Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (81 pages)
  19. Robinson, Marilynne — Home (339 pages)
  20. Opera Magazine — Basses in Opera: Profiles of thirteen great basses (96 pages)
  21. Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin Caron de — The Figaro Trilogy (David Coward, transl.) (335 pages)

Page count: 5093.

I think it's obvious why I chose to read the Beaumarchais plays. I like to read the source materials of operas I perform in, and since my current production combines operas of all three plays linked together with Beaumarchais' own dialogue, it seemed even more appropriate to go back to the source now.

All three were enjoyable plays. It was quite interesting to trace the development of Figaro, Almaviva, and Rosine and the maturity of plot and subject matter. The Barber of Seville is a lighthearted romp. The Marriage of Figaro adds complexity and intrigue and is perhaps funnier for the increased layering and nuance. The Guilty Mother isn't funny like the first two but has an even more complex plot and is much darker and more sinister than the others. As such, the plays are no doubt accurate barometers of the dramatist's moral and political outlook and of the changing cultural atmosphere.

Additionally, the introduction was quite informative (a welcome change from the usual tedious introduction which attempts to analyze a work to death and assumes we've read it). I had no idea Beaumarchais led such a fascinating life! In fact, a biography of his life would probably be at least as suitable a basis for an opera as his plays.

In lieu of the usual movie comparison, of course, I must make an opera comparison. (And I refer to the Mozart, Rossini, and Milhaud operas, not any of the other adaptations.) I am biased when I say the operas are better than the plays, because I have long considered The Marriage of Figaro my favorite opera and I love the tuneful Barber of Seville. The effect of adding the musical wit of these composers is synergistic. Rossini's Barber is quite faithful to Beaumarchais. Mozart/da Ponte changed a few characters and situations and excised an entire act, but the end result is perfection. Milhaud (or Milhaud's wife, I believe) simply chopped a few side plots to tighten the drama but essentially uses Beaumarchais' text otherwise. All three operas, as are all three plays, are a delight.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
rsc
Aug. 18th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
Have you, by any chance, had an opportunity to see or hear Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles?
spwebdesign
Aug. 18th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC)
No, not yet. I am aware that it is loosely based in part on The Guilty Mother, though.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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