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  #11  
Unread 06-25-2019, 09:07 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Well, you seemed to be hinting that I hadn't given you any. This felt like the quickest solution. As well as playing with the enjambments I've reworded stuff and cut what I thought was filler.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 06-25-2019 at 12:11 PM. Reason: added info
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  #12  
Unread 06-25-2019, 09:29 AM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
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There's a fine line, John, between making a concrete suggestion and rewriting a poem because you didn't take the time to do it yourself. You depend too much on the Sphere to do the work for you.
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  #13  
Unread 06-25-2019, 09:40 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Fwiw John, I did consider my first post to be a concrete suggestion: the suggestion, as Susan picked up on, was make the content less prose-like and the enjambments much less arbitrary. But your pointed thank yous for other critters' more specific suggestions seemed a slightly passive-aggressive hint that this wasn't enough. Hence the rewrite, which I admit to offering in a slight attitude of pique. Not the best spirit for poetry, I know. I do agree with Michael here, somewhat.

But if you think the original has, as you say, a "natural musical integrity to my ear, when read aloud, and I've come to trust that over time" then fair enough, certainly you should ignore my suggestions. Genuinely.

All the best
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  #14  
Unread 06-26-2019, 03:25 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Coming back... I'm a bit worried about the part Bizet plays in the poem. He didn't write the libretto (Meilhac/Halevy) nor the story itself (Prosper Mérimée); his contribution was the brilliant music, the glorious habanera, the seductive seguidilla. A Frenchman making Spain.

Could you leave the name off the epigraph? Could you call him into the poem as "the man who made the music"? This is a young man's music, he who made it... etc.

If you need to incorporate the story, could you make more of the fact that the bird betrays Carmen, too; she dies after all, at the hands of the officer.

To me, the actual story is about love vs lust, the hero's need to possess the fiery Carmen rather than the milquetoast Michaela. The habanera telegraphs the volatility of the woman herself. He doesn't listen. Nor would many of us in that situation, which is the point you make.

But we, the audience, know from the first bars of the music, the first lines of the lyric, that this will not end well. Prends garde a toi!

My worry is that those who know the opera will argue with your assessment while those who don't, have little here to tease them into the need to find out. Perhaps you need a tad more mystery, a bit less history. Then we can all nod with you and say "T'was ever thus".
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  #15  
Unread 06-26-2019, 06:05 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Good morning Mark, Michael, Annie,

Sorry for the delayed response. I've been traveling.
Mark, I'll eschew any ad hominem color commentary and just say that my thanks for your concrete suggestion - the rewrite you propose - is equally genuine. You've got a lot in there, and I'll take a little time to unpack it (it's 4 a.m. here in LA, and the family's asleep).
Michael, given that your comments, at least on my threads, generally consist of carping from the sidelines, I see a certain inconsequence in posting a complaint about "rewriting a poem because you didn't take the time to do it yourself." Feel free to do just that; to comment on the "much better" poems of mine you mention; or to post poems of your own here. I will be glad to see it.
Annie, you have given me a lot to chew on. You're right of course, starting with the epigraph, which I certainly can't attribute to Bizet alone. I'll need to rethink how I tell this story. Merimee I know moderately well - he died old - but the librettists I don't know at all.

Cheers all,
John

Last edited by John Isbell; 06-26-2019 at 06:13 AM. Reason: Meilhac and Halevy
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  #16  
Unread 06-26-2019, 07:07 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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The librettists are otherwise best known for their associations with Offenbach, for example 'La Belle Hélène' and 'La Vie Parisienne.' Carmen thus has a good deal of the opéra comique about it compared with the earlier Pearl Fishers and Fair Maid of Perth. That, I think, has a great deal to do with the whole thing's being so accessible, so singable, so alive.

I haven't read much Mérimée, but my great hero, Daudet, also provided Bizet with inspiration when the latter wrote the incidental music for L'Arlésienne, the year before Carmen. Not a memorable production; the story has slid back to a seed of itself among Daudet's windmill letters. But the music retains a life of its own.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y09pD1r-Qs
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  #17  
Unread 06-26-2019, 07:20 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Annie, you know opera a lot better than I do. My second favorite French opera is Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, with Barbier's libretto. The Kleinzach aria is incredible. And my favorite opera joke goes like this: "In Heaven, they play Bach." "Always Bach?" "Often Bach." Meilhac and Halevy are names to me and nothing more; it's good to hear how they shaped Carmen.
I read Daudet as a teenager and should reread him. Merimee is slippery, but brilliant, and kind of pivotal in the C19th. He gets neglected.
The sun's just coming up here over LA and the Pacific. I'm sitting on a rooftop overlooking the boardwalk. Cloudy morning.

Cheers,
John
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  #18  
Unread 06-26-2019, 09:49 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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John, if I was entirely wrong in post #13 in my interpretation of your comments then I apologise and conclude that this place must be making me paranoid. To quote Withnail: "I think we've been in here too long. I feel unusual. I think we should go outside..."
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  #19  
Unread 06-26-2019, 06:26 PM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
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John,

I find the ebullience of the language, the enthusiasm of the speaker, charming.

But the substance doesn't add much to actuality/experience/life. It's almost like a brief reflection on how applicable the opera is...applicable may not be the right word; how true to life or lifelike its presentation is.

Well, let me depart from substance for a moment to discuss craft.

I think the epigraph is unnecessary since you repeat it verbatim (translated) within the poem. You could just say, "After Bizet."

Scanning, it seems you scanned opera as "OP-er-A" when it will most likely be read by the majority of readers as "OP'ra." Especially within the line -- maybe at the end of a line you could get most readers to give it 3 syllables?

To me this sounds like versified appreciation for the opera and not poetry, not making. So the substance just doesn't work as a poem. But that's just my humble opinion.

Cheers,
Jake

Last edited by Jake Sheff; 06-26-2019 at 06:27 PM. Reason: meant epigraph not epigram
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  #20  
Unread 06-27-2019, 04:39 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Mark, hi Jake,

Mark, great film. With I believe Richard E. Grant as Withnail? Also worth seeing How to Get Ahead in Advertising. Also, praise for concrete suggestions is I think you'll find a theme of mine, and something I try to honor in my comments on others' poems too. I don't think it's anything new from me. So, there's that. :-)
Jake, at the end of the day, you're right, I've removed the epigraph. My taste for citing the original is a critic's taste and poetry doesn't always require it. This also addresses a concern of Annie's. Opera for me is always three syllables - not, say, opry - and that could be me speaking Italian or growing up in the UK. Later (i.e. not at 3 a.m.) I'll summarize some insights I feel my poem brings, some making as you call it. I'll also try to explain why I'm enjambing here. There's a chunk of revision still due, not least for Mark and Annie. But first, bed.

Cheers,
John

Oh - the close is of course Othello.

Last edited by John Isbell; 06-27-2019 at 04:42 AM.
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