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Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review) 
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Does anyone know why Tim Rice did not include the songs that were written for the Swedish production in what he considers to be the definitive version?

Personally, I don't mind that he didn't, since I think Chess in Sweden is almost a different musical that just happens to share somw plot and music with Chess. "Translating" Chess as if the original text was just a suggestion for how Chess ought to be was uacceptable, no matter how successful the production was, commercially or artistically.

Tim Rice's lyrics (from the time before Lion King etc at least) has a very distinctive style. The style has many flaws, but is a very crucial part of the feel of Chess.

I think it had been fun if Tim Rice had "translated" the songs that were written for the Swedish production into something that fits the rest of Chess, despite them sounding much more like they belong in Kristina Från Duvemåla...

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Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:25 am
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Hans wrote:
Does anyone know why Tim Rice did not include the songs that were written for the Swedish production in what he considers to be the definitive version?

Personally, I don't mind that he didn't, since I think Chess in Sweden is almost a different musical that just happens to share somw plot and music with Chess. "Translating" Chess as if the original text was just a suggestion for how Chess ought to be was uacceptable, no matter how successful the production was, commercially or artistically.

Tim Rice's lyrics (from the time before Lion King etc at least) has a very distinctive style. The style has many flaws, but is a very crucial part of the feel of Chess.

I think it had been fun if Tim Rice had "translated" the songs that were written for the Swedish production into something that fits the rest of Chess, despite them sounding much more like they belong in Kristina Från Duvemåla...

Actually, the music for what eventually became "Glöm mig om du kan" was at one point intended for Chess. It was a solo for Florence or Anatoly, called "When the Waves Roll Out to Sea," based on the chorus of an unreleased ABBA song.

There's no place for a translation of "Glöm mig..." in the London score; the comic stage Russian who sings "Soviet Machine" has neither the characterization nor the time to sing the song. It's out of place. And "Han är en man, han är ett barn" is essentially in the same role that "Someone Else's Story" is used in; a character piece for Svetlana in Act II. Having already moved "Pity" back into the second act, Rice couldn't have possibly stick yet another solo in there.

I used to agree with you about the Swedish show, but I've since changed my mind; it's not a bad take on things, except for what they did with "Endgame" / "Ni dömer mig," which was awful and ridiculous. You really have to watch the official show DVD to get what worked about it. The London script isn't as good as people make it out to be, Tim Rice now included. The show has act II problems no matter what you do, and you can't fix them so much as make the show work by sheer force of will.

My biggest personal disappointment remains the lack of a new final verse for "Florence and the American." There was a new one in every variation before this, and to be honest it was fun.

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Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:21 am
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Cadriel wrote:
I used to agree with you about the Swedish show, but I've since changed my mind; it's not a bad take on things, except for what they did with "Endgame" / "Ni dömer mig," which was awful and ridiculous. You really have to watch the official show DVD to get what worked about it. The London script isn't as good as people make it out to be, Tim Rice now included. The show has act II problems no matter what you do, and you can't fix them so much as make the show work by sheer force of will.


What do you think of the way they "translated" the text to Swedish?

I thought everyone agreed that Chess is flawed. I prefer to just accept it, since I like the "Danish" version best (I'd also like it if they'd added the OBCR Overture, as well as the meaningless but FUN gugue for Decorum/Tranquility), instead of trying to fix it by basically disregarding Tim Rice's text, which I think is a very crucial part of the enjoyment of Chess. The Swedish text is just not fun, dramaturgically coherent as it may be. I don't bother to check, really, as it bores the shit out of me, and is totally out of tune with the feeling of Chess.

What is fundamentally wrong with the Swediah version is that it doesn't recognise the fact that Chess is constructed as a very stylized piece of theatre. It's not supposed to be "realistic". The diegetic version of Merano is totally embarassing, for example.

You seem to be very knowledgeable about Chess, and it baffles me that you (or anyone) like it so much. (In general, I also am almost exclusively concerned about the construction of Chess, and don't pay much attention to performances, but I really dislike the hoarse voice of Svetlana in the Swedish version. And I see no redeeming qualities of the unfunny Arbiter.)

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Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:57 am
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Hans wrote:
What do you think of the way they "translated" the text to Swedish?

I thought everyone agreed that Chess is flawed. I prefer to just accept it, since I like the "Danish" version best (I'd also like it if they'd added the OBCR Overture, as well as the meaningless but FUN gugue for Decorum/Tranquility), instead of trying to fix it by basically disregarding Tim Rice's text, which I think is a very crucial part of the enjoyment of Chess. The Swedish text is just not fun, dramaturgically coherent as it may be. I don't bother to check, really, as it bores the shit out of me, and is totally out of tune with the feeling of Chess.

What is fundamentally wrong with the Swediah version is that it doesn't recognise the fact that Chess is constructed as a very stylized piece of theatre. It's not supposed to be "realistic". The diegetic version of Merano is totally embarassing, for example.

You seem to be very knowledgeable about Chess, and it baffles me that you (or anyone) like it so much. (In general, I also am almost exclusively concerned about the construction of Chess, and don't pay much attention to performances, but I really dislike the hoarse voice of Svetlana in the Swedish version. And I see no redeeming qualities of the unfunny Arbiter.)

To be honest, I shared a lot of your opinions before I saw the video of the Swedish show. In its proper dramatic context the rewritten libretto more or less works, although I get the feeling that it may seem a bit forced and cliched in Swedish. For instance, I thought it was good stagecraft to have the band get up on stage during "Merano," and the song does literally happen in both versions it was used in (London and Stockholm), so I'm not sure how it's at a different level of diegesis in Stockholm.

I agree about realism, but Stockholm actually played out something like a fairy tale on stage. A welcome relief from some of the Broadway based versions I've seen, where some of the "book scenes" feel like I'm watching a really boring play. It's actually one of the problems with the London version of the show (which I consider to more or less cover the 1990 UK Tour, the 2001 Danish concert tour, the 2008 London concert and various and sundry other performances) - the four sequences designed partly by Michael Bennett exist in a very rarefied world, using surreal imagery and stark colors and very high theatricality. The rest of the show, which was worked out with Trevor Nunn aboard, is bloated and creaky, and full of questionable recitative. (The four scenes I'm referring to are the introduction with "Story of Chess", "The Golden Ballet" which is an extended "Bangkok" entr'acte, "The Deal" and "Endgame.")

FWIW, the Sydney Australia production did the best job with being highly stylized. The production was dripping with self-indulgence (the long numbers were even longer) but it created brilliant theatre while doing it. It also broke the show dramaturgically six ways from Sunday, but I'm convinced that a London-Sydney harmony is the best thing that could've happened to the show. (DESPITE its using inferior rewritten lyrics for "Endgame" and "You and I".) Unfortunately Tim Rice threw some of his more interesting work under the bus for the "definitive" version rather than getting it up and going.

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Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:20 pm
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Cadriel wrote:
It's actually one of the problems with the London version of the show (which I consider to more or less cover the 1990 UK Tour, the 2001 Danish concert tour, the 2008 London concert and various and sundry other performances) - the four sequences designed partly by Michael Bennett exist in a very rarefied world, using surreal imagery and stark colors and very high theatricality. The rest of the show, which was worked out with Trevor Nunn aboard, is bloated and creaky, and full of questionable recitative. (The four scenes I'm referring to are the introduction with "Story of Chess", "The Golden Ballet" which is an extended "Bangkok" entr'acte, "The Deal" and "Endgame.")


But that seems to be a problem of the direction, not necessarily a problem of the material?

And no matter what you say, haha (this is a matter of taste), I think a convulted plot is an acceptable price to pay for keeping the style of the text of Tim Rice (in any language). Frankly, I still don't understand why they didn't at least try to create somthing in Swedish that could resemble the rather distinctive style of Tim Rice.

I have also never actually seen a production of Chess, except the dvd of the Swedish version. I didn't know that Merano was staged as a diegetic number in London. How can that work? So Freddie interrupts (with a "book" song, ot mimetic song) a sond the Meranoits ( :mrgreen: ) have rehearsed? Now that is weird direction choice :shock:

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Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:45 am
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Hans wrote:
But that seems to be a problem of the direction, not necessarily a problem of the material?

I'm actually referring to structure. The way the scenes are written in London more or less require a shift between highly abstract theatre in the more Bennett influenced pieces, and rather literal scenes that have Nunn's stamp on them more heavily. I mean, "The Interview" and "The Deal" are written so that they occur in different dramatic universes, even though one comes right after the other. The former is a lengthy scene taking place through a television interview, the latter is a whirlwind of narrated scenes where everybody winds up singing "Nobody's Side" for some reason. These are two concepts for a show, one placed immediately after the other, and hoping it's interesting enough that nobody will notice.

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And no matter what you say, haha (this is a matter of taste), I think a convulted plot is an acceptable price to pay for keeping the style of the text of Tim Rice (in any language). Frankly, I still don't understand why they didn't at least try to create somthing in Swedish that could resemble the rather distinctive style of Tim Rice.

Jag talar inte mycket svenska, så jag kan inte bedöma. ;) Jag förstar inte allt men tycker att översättningen är i alla fall intressant. And of course, de gustibus non est disputandum.

But with Tim Rice, my opinion has shifted over the years. When I was younger the cleverness of his lyrics really appealed to me more, but now I see it as going a little overboard at times. And some of the Swedish lyrics seem fairly literal to me, for instance I don't know how much closer you can get to "Everybody's playing the game" than "Alla bara spelar sitt spel." Others not so much, but I don't know how close you could've gotten, being that what I typed above was pushing the limits of my Swedish very hard.

Quote:
I have also never actually seen a production of Chess, except the dvd of the Swedish version. I didn't know that Merano was staged as a diegetic number in London. How can that work? So Freddie interrupts (with a "book" song, ot mimetic song) a sond the Meranoits ( :mrgreen: ) have rehearsed? Now that is weird direction choice :shock:

Basically, yes; "Merano" was always intended to be a parody of the Sound of Music style song & dance number and get interrupted by a hard rock song. I actually think it was better in Stockholm because it was shorter - there is no "whistle break" and a bit of the song is cut, making it drag a bit less. Same concept in both London and Stockholm.

That's really the tough thing about Chess; the material is not necessarily what it sounds like. For instance, "US vs USSR" is a very difficult number to stage, because it easily descends into the comic if you try to add any dancing during the number, but it's interminably boring if you don't have some movement in the song. And songs can be wildly different. "Endgame" in London was a searing psychodrama done entirely in black & white, with the underlit stage slowly closing in on Anatoly; perhaps the best moment in the show's history. In Broadway it was a boring number staged around a chessboard. In Stockholm it was a terrible quasi-comic number in a hotel room. It's an interesting show - to say the least.

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Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:16 pm
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Cadriel wrote:
These are two concepts for a show, one placed immediately after the other, and hoping it's interesting enough that nobody will notice..


Haha, yeah, that's true :D

Cadriel wrote:
When I was younger the cleverness of his lyrics really appealed to me more, but now I see it as going a little overboard at times. And some of the Swedish lyrics seem fairly literal to me, for instance I don't know how much closer you can get to "Everybody's playing the game" than "Alla bara spelar sitt spel." Others not so much, but I don't know how close you could've gotten, being that what I typed above was pushing the limits of my Swedish very hard.


I think Tim Rice's lyrics are often far over the top, he used to show off like nobody else in his construction of lyrics. I don't think that makes good lyrics, but nevertheless I enjoy that flamboyant style very much, particularly in a show as stylized as Chess.

I admit that several phrases from Tim Rice were kept in Sweden. But a good translation is always as close to the original text as possible. Many of the songs in Sweden are not only loosely based on Tim Rice's text, most of them are just pure new inventions. Regardless of what you think of the original (or the result), that's not really translation at all.

Cadriel wrote:
"Merano" was always intended to be a parody of the Sound of Music style song & dance number and get interrupted by a hard rock song. I actually think it was better in Stockholm because it was shorter - there is no "whistle break" and a bit of the song is cut, making it drag a bit less. Same concept in both London and Stockholm.


Are you sure we're talking about the same thing here? Was really the diegetic level supposed to change between the Merano part and the What a scene part? Why? It's naturally a Sound of Music parody, but I thought it was just a comic way to set the over the top idyllic athmosphere of an Alp dorf as a contrast to the sleazy Bangkok. The way the double song is constructed, it seems pointless to let the people in Merano being aware that they are singing. Why should they have had a song like that composed?

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Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:11 pm
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Sounds to me like a pointed slam at traditional musical theater -- Tim Rice's way of saying that just because he was doing a book show, doesn't mean he was abandoning his roots in rock opera. I could be wrong. Cadriel?

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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Brother Marvin Hinten, S. wrote:
Sounds to me like a pointed slam at traditional musical theater -- Tim Rice's way of saying that just because he was doing a book show, doesn't mean he was abandoning his roots in rock opera. I could be wrong. Cadriel?

Well, in the concept album liner notes, he actually goes so far as to ask "Is this the Sound of Music?". So yes, it is a deliberate and pointed slam directed toward the musicals of the '60s.

As to why the people in "Merano" are literally singing the song? So they can be interrupted by Freddie's dramatic entrance - he comes in on a train and the rock beat starts and he blows away a hero's welcome set up for him. It's also one of relatively few chances the show will have for a big dance number, but in this case it's done as, again, an actual rehearsed piece where the townsfolk are literally doing the song and dance to welcome Freddie into town.

It's a dramatic statement, but another of the weaknesses of the London show is that we spend the ensuing two scenes ("Commie Newspapers" and "Press Conference") that try to distinguish Florence and Freddie further but wind up muddying the waters further. I actually think Broadway did a better job by cutting "Press Conference" very short and using "How Many Women" to establish Florence as a much more independent person than "Commie Newspapers" did.

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Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:05 am
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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Cadriel wrote:
As to why the people in "Merano" are literally singing the song? So they can be interrupted by Freddie's dramatic entrance - he comes in on a train and the rock beat starts and he blows away a hero's welcome set up for him. It's also one of relatively few chances the show will have for a big dance number, but in this case it's done as, again, an actual rehearsed piece where the townsfolk are literally doing the song and dance to welcome Freddie into town.


I didn't know that. It sounds stupid and unnecessary. I makes much more sense if the song is interpreted as a mimetic song signifying the hullaballoo such an event would cause while painting the kitchy picture of a Sond of music-esque idyll the people of Merano naturally want to present their home as.

That at least, is a dirctorial choice, as there isn't anything about the itself song that implies that it is diegetic number.

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Post Re:
bugaboo_4 wrote:
Judy Kuhn is definitely one of my favorite Florences. I also really admire Jodie Gilles's work in the Sydney production. I would love to see what Sutton Foster could do with the role. Her "Someone Else's Story" from the 2003 New York concert blew me away when I heard it. Yet another case where the actresses playing Florence and Svetlana should've switched roles.


My thoughts exactly (the role-switching part, that is.) Sutton foster's higher tessitura would've been a much better fit for Florence. For one thing, she wouldn't have to bellow the high D's and above the way Julia did (and don't even get me started on the octave leap in Nobody's Side, which isn't even written anyway). Judging by her performance as Fiona on the OBC recording of Shrek, she would've hit that note a lot easier! The same thing goes for Julia and Svetlana's lower tessitura (and though the high E's during the climax of "Endgame" ("Well, I won't crawl," etc.) might seem to be a problem, Svetlana is meant at the end of her tether anyway, so borderline shouting those notes would be understandable.)


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Post Re: Maybe he walked, cable cars scare him. (Concert review)
Plus Murney did Svetlana in the Nyack concerts (possible a couple other places too) and IIRC did rather well with it, so she would've been a proven fit for it anyhow.


Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:19 pm
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