M. Nyman`s Chamber Opera or the Story of the Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Chamber opera with its numerous varieties played the dominant role in the history of the development of musical theatre of the second half of the 20th century. Many innovations in the development of musical-and-theatrical genres were tested precisely within the framework of the chamber version of the opera. M. Nyman contributed to this process. Relying on the traditional model of chamber opera, with its inherent compressed time frame, chamber troupe, rare appeal to extended arias or ensembles, the prevalence of arioso-declamatory type of intonation, Nyman managed to bring a number of authoring characteristic features . First of all, it concerns the peculiar choice of the plot. The opera libretto, designed by Chris Rawlence, is based on a real story from medical practice. This story was documented by the famous American neurologist and neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks in his collection of “clinical” stories of the same name. Rising the psychology, inherent in the chamber opera, to the level of psychiatry, Nyman introduces into the opera genre the characteristic properties of postmodern art, one of the leading principles of which is intertextuality. The composer forms a special musical language, in which the features of minimalism and romanticism are combined. It significantly deepens the content of the opera and enlarges the field of cultural associations connected with the love and illness of Robert Schumann, whose music, along with the author’s material, forms the intonation framework of the opera.
M. Nyman, chamber opera, intertextuality, musical documentary, postmodern, minimalism.