Sunday, August 6, 2017

Schiller Time

The Special Envoy asked this week about the difference between work time and what she termed "Schiller time" -- by which she means the difference between wage slavery and the stuff one is really supposed to be doing. The stuff, that is, with meaning.

But since the internet loves brevity and youtube videos may stand in for discourse these days, I suppose the response is a bit this

Before the experts weigh in, yes, this is not a particularly canon (in the nerdy superhero flick sense of that term) bit of the opera. Schiller's Elisabeth de Valois has been dropped at the Spanish court alone, an isolated person in a play of isolated people, so she doesn't have the luxury of bidding farewell to a homie, only to one of the people she refers to in weaker moments as her jailers. All the more impressive, in a way, that the prisoner stands up for the prison guard, the servant of an authoritarian narrative whom Authority has just ruthlessly decontextualized. If the libretto of the opera loses a bit in the change, Verdi makes up for it in that final chorus. It's the punctuation of Elisabetta's vocal line and its final three note descent that turns them from onlookers to witnesses. Say what you will about the man as a composer, when it came to adapting canon works for the opera stage, his musical shorthand was second to none.

Meantime, after a lengthy hiatus, here's your Random Don Carlos Trailer of the Week, courtesy of Salzburger Landestheater, wherein the salient metaphor appears to be ice cubes.


  1. I really like this post :-) even though I'm not a fan of that opera or Schiller. But you make a neat case for it. I also like the expression "wage slavery"; incidentally I also call paid work (of any kind) that. which is why I don't to monetise the blog.


    1. The axis of the two has owned a good bit of real estate around here for the last quarter century, because in the beginning very few people in the English-speaking opera world remembered there even was a play. And I wanted to know why bits of the opera don't quite connect up. And then I wanted to know why we didn't know there was a play. And then I wanted to know what it was like when we did. And so here I am, knee deep in Victorian women authors, but blowing time at the Borg Cube. Hence the Envoy's newly-minted term.

      I probably learned the term wage slavery from listening to Peggy Seeger records, but then I used to be paid for knowing about Peggy Seeger records, so not all wage slaveries are created equal :)

      Thank you for not monetizing your blog. I was on another one the other day where I was trying to comment but the ads kept hijacking the comment form.