It will certainly interest the lovers of music in the University and all who may be interested in the development of music in America to learn something more of Professor Paine's opera "Azara," from which the ballet music has recently been performed in Boston and Cambridge with such brilliant success. It may not be generally recognized that during the last few years a work has been created here in our midst which makes a permanent contribution to the modern opera. In fact "Azara" is the first grand opera on an original subject ever composed throughout by a native-born American. For Professor Paine has written his own libretto as well as the music, and both words and music show genius of the highest order; the words in their dramatic power and poetic beauty, and the music in that it is free and original in spirit while preserving symmetrical form and proportion. The scene is laid in Provence about the time of the early Crusades. The opera is romantic in spirit, with a thrilling plot of many tragic situations and a happy denouement. The action centres around the invasion of Provence by the Saracens, and the music is strikingly characteristic in its use of Oriental color, while the dramatic portions are of great vigor and intensity. The style may be said to be Professor Paine's own, for it is neither like that of the modern French opera with its somewhat lighter mixture of the serious and the comic, nor like that of Wagner with its long monologues and extreme use of leading motives. The subject of the opera is not mythical, but one of human interest, and it makes an instant appeal to the enthusiasm and emotion of the hearer. All musicians who have made a study of "Azara" are convinced of its great originality, its striking harmonies and melodies, masterly orchestration, dramatic power and picturesque scenic features. "Azara" marks a new epoch in American music, and it will be a shame if this opera is not first brought out on the stage in the land that produced it. One would think that Americans would show some pride in having "Azara" performed first in America, and would thus encourage the development of a native school of composers instead of forcing the composer to seek recognition abroad. In my opinion the ballet music recently performed is only a fair sample of the whole work, which abounds in beautiful solos for the various characters and also in ensemble effects of striking power. Worthy of especial mention are the beautiful scenes for orchestra and the climaxes to the different acts.
A Description of Professor J.K. Paine's New Opera.
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