In opera, the orchestra pit is where the action is

Posted on: September 11, 2014

“I am occasionally asked, on panels, and in master classes, why it is important for an opera composer to write well for the orchestra, do their own orchestrations, and use it for more than mere accompaniment to what’s going on twelve feet above,” writes composer Daron Hagen in Wednesday’s (9/3) Huffington Post. “I reply that … it is in the subtle use of orchestral colors and textures that much of the composer’s capacity for the telling of truth to power is made possible. The way the composer uses the orchestra is one of the chief things that differentiates opera from music theater. It is in the suave use of the orchestra that a composer can artfully conceal many of her most provocative and innovative musical and psychological ideas while appearing on the surface intending only to entertain and divert.… The next time you attend the opera, as the lights dim and the orchestra strikes up, why not determine to devote that evening an extra measure of attention to the opera going on in the pit? Given half the chance they deserve, those people down there might just steal the show.”

Posted September 11, 2014