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11:57 

Legend of the Prince - thoughts on the first eight tracks

teldreaming
So, first off, my perspective on this is that of a listener who is not fluent in Russian. Aside from names, a few extremely common words, and loanwords, I cannot decipher the words in the songs by ear. Most of what I am reacting to when I listen is tone of voice, emotional content, and the other intangibles the singers bring to this. I am also listening with an ear towards translation. This cluster is the first I want to translate (possibly excluding Waltz).

Overture:
I'm not sure this stands on its own as well as it should. The music for the opera is strong, but it's stronger when it's backing the extremely strong vocals. It starts to lose me about at [Yuri's theme?], which I think isn't well-served by synth and makes me keep expecting the rest of Phantom of the Opera to turn up. Otherwise fine, though it ends a bit suddenly.

Night:
This is a excellent start. The clock chimes, the prince's vocals, especially Grishnov's vocals give it a very atmospheric feel. This is one of my top ten for the whole opera, and I'll do another post on translating it later.

Gallery:
Much more cheerful than the last one. It's easy to track the prince's emotional state throughout the song - his typically Russian fanboying of Ezar, his confident dismissal of Serg, and so on. Similarly a top ten.

Yuri the Mad:
Yuri's a little hard to hear to start but really blossoms. My mother, glancing over my shoulder, noted that his voice is very dramatic.The prince's scrambling confusion would be more convincing if he wasn't still rhyming - his bit seems a bit staged but is still entirely entertaining.

Illyan's Monologue:
Адеев is very convincing to me as Illyan. I admit to wondering why he seems to be narrating the opera from a windy moor somewhere. :)

It Is Regrettable to Know
This is another of my top tens. Ezar and Illyan play off each other beautifully, though I'm not fully convinced Illyan's role here is canonically appropriate. It really makes me want to hear the version of this with Ezar and Grishnov though. ;)

Waltz:
So my problem with this is that I don't understand why this is where it is in the opera from a plot standpoint. In the other libretto, it plays the obvious role of bringing us back in time to the past and introducing Ges. Here it plays neither role and is borrowed by entirely new characters. The Vortala plotline suffers enormously from bringing Kareen in early, because his proper introduction is cut and one begins to wonder why Serg is after Vortala when Illyan's the one singing duets with his wife. And why wedge more Illyan in here when he disappears in the second act except for abstract, not-really-there parts? I realize some may understandably prefer more Illyan to more Vortala, but it bothers me :) Given total liberty to rearrange stuff I would put this after Your Highness!, with the necessary tweaks.

Your Highness!
This is yet another of my top tens, for Ges the Prince's first friend who imho sounds like Ges ought to and Kareen particularly and the high enthusiasm of it all. This is my favorite Kareen part in the entire opera. From a plot standpoint, I think the lack of introduction for Vortala is a serious oversight and it would make way more sense to have Serg and Kareen come in together* as before, but that doesn't impact my appreciation of the music. When listening to the pure audio without reference to the lyrics, I've mistaken Vortala for the first friend once or twice as he comes in (later obviously not). Grishnov is also not quite as distinctive as usual.

("Ты обхохочешься! Дочка Гришнова в меня влюблена!" - and what's going on here? I want to know the story behind this.)

*making Ваше Высочество "Welcome, Your Highnesses", better scansion than I think I could get otherwise.

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Комментарии
2012-01-09 в 18:34 

Хорошая крыша летает сама!
I'm not fully convinced Illyan's role here is canonically appropriate
Well, it should have been Negri, but he didn't survive to meet 17-old Vlad Vorbarra, so the authors took him and Illian and made a collective ImpSec character - one of them told me as much. As for Grishnov - I'm almost certain Ezar has had very similar conversations with all of them one at a time, just with minor alteractions due to "security access level" of each person to his own secret agenda))))

why he seems to be narrating the opera from a windy moor I guess Адеев made it so to stress his age in Monologue and Memory. Everywhere else Simon is about 30. And - he is standing in the vast gallery, there must be some echoes)))

about Waltz
may be a perception problem - so far I've seen no comment from native-speakers whether it's place in the opera is correct or not, and I didn't give it any thought myself before I read your comment. It simply seems a change of perspective after Ezar's one, with Illian as a link. Illian IS a link, period, in the whole opera. Almost everything is actually his POV, for he relays the story to Vlad.
I think it may be easier to Rus-fandom to comprehend the whole idea because it (the fandom) is initially more Ezar-Illian-centric, thanks to jetta-e and Co)))))

I am totally at loss how one can mix hysterical high tenor Vortala and calm almost baritone Ges.
Oh, while typing next part, it came to me, maybe. The dialogue actually goes:
1-st friend (Anonymous, high tenor) - Ges, here the Highness comes! What takes you so long? Serg is nodding me, open the bottle!
2-nd friend (Ges) - Where is the Highness? High society crowded him...
1-st /about Grishnov's girl/
1-st and Ges together - It's high time we drink some wine!
2-nd (Ges) - Serg, my Admiral!..

and no Ges further... (

("Ты обхохочешься! Дочка Гришнова в меня влюблена!" - and what's going on here? I want to know the story behind this.)
My guess, it has a bit of Vorcon game in it. 90% says at the same role-play where the idea of the opera came from there WAS some plot-bunny about it. If you are that much interested I can find out for sure)


PS exactly what is scansion?

2012-01-10 в 09:19 

teldreaming
Part of the issue is that I read the first libretto first so the changes (which are many) really jump out at me. I think the first libretto has a plot that is overall more coherent... though it's maybe excessively pro-Serg ;)

re: Ges I was wondering if I could be wrong about that. My Russian grammar is incredibly hopeless - I try to compensate with vocabulary and usually nobody notices. The first speaker sounds a lot much more like I imagine Ges to be.

re: Grishnov's daughter - motivation for him to be gunning after his allies suddenly? If I'm translating people will ask, so...

The formal definition of scansion is the art of determining and writing down the meter of a piece of poetry. In filk contexts it is sometimes used to talk about properly fitting new words to the tune of a song that already has words. A song 'scans' when the words match the meter of the old song.

URL
2012-01-10 в 10:58 

Хорошая крыша летает сама!
oh my, I have not read it yet... 'cause I simply didn't know it existed on the net...

as it was in canon I think such parties were look-no-touch for maidens, so all girls were fair play for everyone for romancing and flirting
to get someone with a name Grishnov to go all starry-eyed about you has a certain kink I'm sure))))

as for tenor-Ges: Ges is at least 14 years older than Serg. it's common to relate to low voices in a play as to elder characters I think.

So let's work further. I think between the two+ of us we'll be able to work it all out - in rhyme and in scans))

2012-01-11 в 00:51 

Medvedev, voice of Grishnov and the recording engineer of the opera here. :)

"So my problem with this is that I don't understand why this is where it is in the opera from a plot standpoint." The opera actually existed in an early version (which I wasn't involved with pretty much at all, the first I heard of it in any detail was when coming in on Adeev recording the very last chord before leaving for the first Vorcon we attended) since around 2001 or so, (or is it 2002?) and originally, it was considerably different. Reading your notes more thoroughly, it appears that you have at least heard of it, seeing as you mention a previous libretto.

A couple of years later, we decided to re-record it with much more modern technologies and on far better equipment, which necessitated scrapping pretty much everything due to the way the original was made. (Pretty much the only thing that remains from the first version are the drum timings and the lyrics. Most other things were impossible to salvage, and every arrangement had to be improvised again.) Initially, we only wanted to extend it "a bit" while redoing, which was, in retrospect, a bit naive, as it quickly evolved out of hand.

Re-recording took two long years, (the scream, "Stop, again from the beginning!" echoes in my ears ever since) and halfway through, as we were trying to mix it as if it were a record of a real stage performance, (which necessitated thinking seriously about what would be happening on stage) we ended up dissatisfied with the plot not making sufficient sense. (Mind you, many of the songs predate the opera as a project, so it's hardly surprising.) We almost ended up dropping the whole thing because of it. Adding Illyan in as "glue" to string the opera together and shuffling the events around while thinking of specific stage directions was the solution we settled on in the end. The collective opinion was that this is a major improvement.

URL
2012-01-11 в 00:52 

Waltz, in particular, is there and then because there was nowhere else to put it and we hadn't the heart to remove it or the strength to replace it. :) Illyan is in it to present him as a witness to more of the story than just Ezar's foreshadowing in "It is regrettable to know...".

"Part of the issue is that I read the first libretto first so the changes (which are many) really jump out at me. I think the first libretto has a plot that is overall more coherent... though it's maybe excessively pro-Serg." That, too. The big reason to change it so drastically, though, was that all the new stuff didn't fit in well, and it was too late to get rid of it. :)

"I admit to wondering why he seems to be narrating the opera from a windy moor somewhere. :)": Winds are a symbol associated with change and time in Russian ("ветер перемен") and it also blows the sands of time around.

"Ты обхохочешься! Дочка Гришнова в меня влюблена!" -- is actually a drunken joke, I'm told, and no such event has actually occurred. The fun of the joke is supposed to be in the absurdity of the idea itself, I believe. Whether Grishnov is supposed to have a daughter or not, I don't know. :)

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2012-01-11 в 00:52 

"I've mistaken Vortala for the first friend once or twice as he comes in (later obviously not)." -- We had serious trouble finding suitable vocalists -- it's very hard to find someone to match Adeev. In the end, he sang everything himself, there's only three singers for the entire opera. :)

We found suitable effects to 'mark' major voices Adeev sings so that they sound distinct. Thankfully, most of the people they represent are supposed to be related anyway. :) Yuri sings with reverb with the source of the reverb completely removed, so it's a disembodied echo. Illyan sings through a subtle ring modulator like a Dalek because of his cyberenhancement, the young Prince sings through a dynamic microphone while everyone else sings through a condensor, which significantly alters the tone. Ezar sings through a complex cocktail of the worst microphone we could find (seriously) and speed/tone/formant shifters. (This was bloody hard to get right.) I forget what kind of effect was applied to Vortala at the moment, but precious little, I believe. There's only so many different ways you can do it before it sounds too silly to use, so bit parts tended to remain unmodified. You very narrowly escaped having to hear Adeev sing for Karin as well, but no matter what I tried, mutilating Adeev's voice to sound convincingly female was just a bit beyond the technology -- and then we lucked out and found us a Karin.

URL
2012-01-11 в 00:53 

"I've mistaken Vortala for the first friend once or twice as he comes in (later obviously not)." -- We had serious trouble finding suitable vocalists -- it's very hard to find someone to match Adeev. In the end, he sang everything himself, there's only three singers for the entire opera. :)

We found suitable effects to 'mark' major voices Adeev sings so that they sound distinct. Thankfully, most of the people they represent are supposed to be related anyway. :) Yuri sings with reverb with the source of the reverb completely removed, so it's a disembodied echo. Illyan sings through a subtle ring modulator like a Dalek because of his cyberenhancement, the young Prince sings through a dynamic microphone while everyone else sings through a condensor, which significantly alters the tone. Ezar sings through a complex cocktail of the worst microphone we could find (seriously) and speed/tone/formant shifters. (This was bloody hard to get right.) I forget what kind of effect was applied to Vortala at the moment, but precious little, I believe. There's only so many different ways you can do it before it sounds too silly to use, so bit parts tended to remain unmodified. You very narrowly escaped having to hear Adeev sing for Karin as well, but no matter what I tried, mutilating Adeev's voice to sound convincingly female was just a bit beyond the technology -- and then we lucked out and found us a Karin.

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2012-01-11 в 01:00 

P.S. Pardon me for anonymous and duplicate comments, but diary.ru seems to choke on any OpenID I present, and I would rather do without a login on a yet another service. Should you wish to contact me, you can do it at rn3aoh.g@gmail.com or gplus.to/rn3aoh - whichever you prefer.

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2012-01-12 в 06:04 

teldreaming
I have a lot of thoughts about Illyan's role in this.

He's essentially wearing four hats:

The old man who is narrating things and really there (Illyan's Monologue, Memory, all the establishing stuff that was cut from first libretto)
The young man who is really there (Waltz, Your Majesty!)
Negri (Regrettable to Know)
A sort of spectral counterpart to Yuri (Honor, Wind)

And that's too many hats.

The opera seems to be in the process of transforming his role from 1 to 4. And I think if it completely reached 4 his role would make sense again. But it's stuck in the middle.

So much of the core of opera (like the second act) is stuff that Illyan wouldn't be there for. If he's a real guy relating his real memories that's a bit of a plot hole. If he's the shoulder angel to Yuri's shoulder devil, it's not, but at that point the parts where he's really there become a distraction. The first libretto managed pretty well without past-Illyan.

Succinctly, I think the opera would make much more sense if Illyan were also a ghost :)

Vortala's voice is quite distinctive once he gets going. The problem as that I see it is that Vortala comes in by surprise without anything resembling a proper introduction so there's a lot of potential for confusion even if you're just reading the libretto :).

Yes, I did decipher the credits (with some difficulty, they being in windows-1251 which is not a standard encoding over here), so I was aware who was playing which roles in general although the male bit parts are unclear (I assume Adeev did most of them). I've also read the short biographies the creative team has up so I knew you did the sound as well. I wasn't sure how much of Adeev's range to credit to you and how much to credit to Adeev simply being very talented. :)

It is a credit to you that the modifications are not obvious except for the reverb on Yuri, which is appropriate (he sounds deep-voiced, just with additional reverb).

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2012-01-12 в 10:22 

teldreaming
I certainly appreciate Illyan, of course :)

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