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The Witches of Venice Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, November 14, 2006
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 14, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: ORANGE MOUNTAIN
  • ASIN: B000JBWWHO
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,759 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Philip Glass Store

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Format: Audio CD
Philip Glass and the late children's book illustrator and set designer Beni Montresor collaborated on the children's opera-ballet The Witches of Venice, which premiered in 1995 at the La Scala Opera House in Milan as Le Streghe di Venezia. OMM has produced a combined children's book and opera recording, with the music trimmed to 70 minutes occupying a single disk. The story book is simply but beautifully illustrated, with the text containing narration as well as the Italian texts of the songs with their English translations.

The story, based on an earlier (1989) children's book by Montresor, concerns the Venetian royal family. The king laments the lack of an heir but refuses the help offered him by fairies, who present him with a magic plant. When he discards the plant a servant puts it into the garden. As the fairies predicted, the plant produces an heir, called Plant Boy. The king refuses to recognize Plant Boy's humanity and locks him in the garden. Desperately lonely, Plant Boy fashions a bird with twigs, and the wind provides the propulsion for his adventures. Plant Boy seeks out Plant Girl, who is similarly held in captivity by the Witches. After courageously overcoming the dangers of the witches' mansion he rescues Plant Girl and they fly away together.

The story is directed at young children, and clearly conveys the messages that children deserve nurturing, that no one should be rejected for being different, and that imagination is the key to liberation. The target audience will need caregivers to read the book and translate the songs, providing the very nurturing that the story's protagonists have been denied.

The music is largely produced by synthesizer.
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Format: Audio CD
BOUTIQUE labels run by composers and performers are supposed to be the hot new thing, but Philip Glass took charge of his own recordings in the early 1970s, when he began releasing his ensemble's performances on his own Chatham Square label. Mr. Glass has always been savvy about sound: his audio engineer, Kurt Munkacsi, has been a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble since the early days. Both Mr. Glass and Mr. Munkacsi have overseen most of Mr. Glass's recordings, even those released by other labels. And they have usually maintained control of the master tapes.

Not long ago, Mr. Munkacsi set out to archive Mr. Glass's tape library, which includes not only the studio masters but stacks of concert recordings as well. And the archiving project led to the next logical step: Orange Mountain Music, a label through which Mr. Glass could release new recordings and reissue old ones, as well as lending his spotlight to composers and ensembles he admires, as he did on Point Music, his boutique label for Universal. Lately, the Glass factory has been spinning out recordings every few weeks, both on CD and in compilations available only through iTunes.

The gem in the most recent batch is "The Witches of Venice," a zesty children's opera-ballet, set to a libretto by Beni Montresor and packaged in a CD-size hardcover book. The piece is about a boy who was born from a magic flower and lived with the king and queen of Venice before flying off on a wooden pigeon to rescue a girl of similar provenance from a group of witches.

The work has slipped under the radar of much of Mr. Glass's adult audience, and it is surprising and uncharacteristic. Its 24 movements are brief, and Mr.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I've listened to A LOT of music by Philip Glass, but I'd never even heard of "The Witches of Venice," so I gave it a try. From the very beginning, you know you're not in Kansas anymore: water laps and gurgles mysteriously, soon joined by the eerie sounds of wind whooshing . . . and female voices cackling . . . then witchy laughter gives way to jauntily bombastic music that has nothing to do with the typical repetitive structures of any kind of minimalism. Glass is on vacation! This work is like a mini-opera of a children's fable by Beni Montresor that brings you plant-children, a heartless king and sad-eyed queen, fairies, a lugubrious ogre, fatuous wise men, and of course those witches, all swirling around in a love story of fantasy and adventure. But it's the MUSIC that delights, with fresh, delightful inventiveness at every turn. Kids should love it, and although I'm on Medicare, I can tell you that I would have loved it at any age, and I'm just glad I finally found "The Witches of Venice"! The music is witty, hilarious, touching, and lovely. What's not to like?
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Format: Audio CD
It all starts with the desire of the King of Venice to have an heir procreated by the philosophers of the world, which leads to total failure. The singing is at the crossroads of Purcell's harmony and modern amplified singing, and the musical sentences open and close in mid-air between tonal notes. The use of electro-acoustic instruments introduces a very modern texture to the music, flying easily in thin air and with rhythmic notes building a sound solid background. The Fairies are thus invoked with long sort of repetitive notes on a background of an ever-turning harmonic phrase. They bring a metaphor of the sexual act that could give birth to a child. A tree to be planted and grown tall carefully and when it finally blooms, explodes into blooms, ejaculates blooms, a child can be born. But the king throws this simple lesson of sexual education in the form of a tree through the window. A maid, sustained by red wine, plants the tree in the garden. And the sun warms up the plant into producing a child that springs out of it. But the king refuses what is evident and has the child imprisoned in the tree by twelve guards, twelve mind you like Jesus' apostles. And the sun feeds the boy with the fruit of the tree. And the flower-boy knows better. He feels abandoned and even rejected as the human boy he knows he is. The music has a very somber and sad tone at that moment, regretting the freedom the boy never had. And it is then that two witches come to visit the boy and find out he is just like the flower girl they have. So they invite the King and his Queen to their Summer Dance and the boy who has overheard about the flower girl wants to escape and find her. This arrival of the witches is dramatic indeed and with a complete change of music.Read more ›
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