Posted By: wwh Pleiades - 09/13/02 07:03 PM
From Brewer:
Pleiades (3 syl.) means the “sailing stars” (Greek, pleo, to sail), because the Greeks considered navigation
safe at the return of the Pleiades, and never attempted it after those stars disappeared.
The PLEIADES were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. They were transformed into stars, one
of which (Merope) is invisible out of shame, because she alone married a human being. Some call the
invisible star “Electra,” and say she hides herself from grief for the destruction of the city and royal race
of Troy.

Posted By: Faldage Re: Pleiades - 09/13/02 07:22 PM
I have heard that the "missing" star was visible at one time and the myth records the disappearance.

The Japanese word subaru refers to the same constellation, which is the one featured on the car company's logo. I have often wondered if they have a corresponding myth.

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Pleiades - 09/17/02 07:51 PM
Also often referred to as "The Seven Sisters".

And brings to mind the title of a classic Eugene O'Neill play: Mourning Becomes Electra

Posted By: Wordwind Re: Electra - 09/17/02 08:28 PM
W'on, in a nutshell would you please state why mourning became Electra? I haven't read the play, but I've always wondered why mourning became her...what it was about her that she carried mourning so well...?

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Electra - 09/18/02 01:10 AM
Mourning becomes Electra

Please state why mourning became her--WW

Some call the invisible star “Electra,” and say she hides herself from grief--Dr. Bill

Dr. Bill's observation is the tale behind the imagery, of course.

And, as far as the play, an Oedipal incestual love triangle ridden with denial and guilt works wonders for rendering the aura of mourning as a fitting accoutrement of attitude.

(what, you want I should give a 4½ hour classic play away for those who haven't read or seen it?) (sigh...sure, of course you do...)

>Mourning Becomes Electra, first produced on the New York stage in 1931, is an updated telling of one of the oldest, grandest, most spine-twisting tales of murder in theatre history. Taken from the ancient Greek drama The Oresteia, this version tells the story of Lavinia Mannon and her quest to avenge the murder of her father.

In an excerpt from Eugene O'Neill's diary written in the spring of 1926, he pondered whether it was possible to get a "modern approximation of the Greek sense of fate into a play intended to move an audience which no longer believes in supernatural retribution." Moreover, he questioned, "Why did the chain of fated crime and retribution ignore her mother's murderess?" This was an inherent weakness that he felt existed in the Greek tragedy — that there was no play about Electra's life after the murder of Clytemnestra.

To answer this nagging question in his mind, O'Neill crafted an addition to the story — the punishment of Electra who "has too much tragic fate within her soul to be allowed to slip from heroic legend into undramatic married banality." The fruit of his creative labor was Mourning Becomes Electra.<

Posted By: johnjohn Re: Electra - 09/18/02 09:14 AM
And why is a Harley Davidson Electra Glide so named?


Posted By: Wordwind Re: Harley Electra - 09/18/02 11:57 AM
Sounds deadly.

Posted By: Faldage Re: Electra Glide - 09/18/02 01:00 PM
Because it has a battery and a starter motor.

Posted By: wwh Re: Electra Glide - 09/18/02 02:47 PM
A Harley Electra can cause so much mourning so quickly, when some motorist does something
stupid changing lanes.

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Harley Electra - 09/18/02 05:08 PM
Get on the wrong side of some outlaw bikers riding Harley Electras and you'll learn something about mourning very quickly!

Uhhh, did I answer you question, Dub-Dub? Vroooooooom!

Posted By: Wordwind Re: Harley Electra - 09/18/02 08:08 PM
Yes, you answered my question, W'on. Thanks for doing so. Now I'm intrigued enough that I'd at least like to see a production of the play... Well, I'm not exactly sure why mourning "becomes" Electra, but at least I understand the mourning part a little better.

Posted By: wwh Re: Harley Electra - 09/18/02 08:14 PM
Dear WW: Would "Mourning befits Electra" please you any better?

Posted By: Wordwind Re: What does mourning become? - 09/18/02 08:31 PM
Well, wwh, I suppose you could take "Mourning Becomes Electra" in a different sense. What does mourning become? It becomes Electra or Electra becomes the equivalent of mourning. This has nothing to do with Harleys.

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Harley Electra - 09/18/02 08:49 PM

Were you thinking in terms of this "becomes", WW?

>(from Cambridge International Dictionary of English)

become (SUIT)
verb [T]
to cause to look attractive or to be suitable for
That colour really becomes you.
This sort of vulgar language hardly becomes (=is suitable for) a man in your position, vicar. [T]<

Posted By: wwh Re: What does mourning become? - 09/18/02 09:20 PM
Dear WW: Your interest in the theater is becoming.

Posted By: Wordwind Re: Harley Electra - 09/18/02 09:44 PM
Dear W'on:

Yes, at first I thought the "becomes" in the title was the definition you just posted.

But now I think the "becomes" means (based on your information about the play) must mean to move from one state to another. Mourning = Electra.

Who knows? Mebbe O'Neill wanted us to think of the "becomes" in several ways... I haven't read the play so I'm really being ridiculous hypothesizing here.

Posted By: wwh Re: Harley Electra - 09/18/02 10:19 PM
Dear WW: Here is a link to synopsis of Opera version of Mourning Becomes Electra. It is short
enough you could read in in a few minutes. However, the plot sounds like a bunch of garbage
to me. A bunch of murders that just don't make sense, with daughter who is party to murder
of her mother shutting herself up in shuttered home, "the family tomb". My interpretation of
the title is now "The Bitch deserves to suffer".


Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Hardly Electra - 09/18/02 10:43 PM
[rant]Yeahbut®, the watered-down opera libretto adaptation is hardly the original play, which is world-class literature, Dr. Bill. Heresy! Treason! If you want to read the play, read the play, the way the playwright wrote it and intended it! Thank you. [/rant] Signed, the O'Neill half of Me.

In all my studies of O'Neill I have never heard about this opera until now...must've been a negligible work, and faded away. Not the stuff to encourage people to read to sample a work of classic theatrical literature. Please, Dr. Bill...don't just throw up anonymous links without some background, draw judgement from them as the autonomous adaptive work they are to use in forming an opinion of the original work, and then guide folks to read this as their experience of Eugene O'Neill's, or any other playwright's work. The opera is the opera...judge it on its own merits or lack thereof... but it's not O'Neill! O'Neill didn't write shallow murder-mysteries as you would lead us to believe with your comments.

Here is a review of the original 1931 theatre Guild production of O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra. Please note the critic's closing lines -- "Be that as it may, “Mourning Becomes Electra” is an achievement which restores the theater to its high estate. It is an adventure in playgoing that no wise lover of the theatre will be so foolish as to deny himself."


Posted By: wwh Re: Hardly Electra - 09/18/02 11:52 PM
Dear WO'N: This opera had permission of O'Neill's widow, and was performed at Metropolitan,
so it ought not be a sad travesty of original, at least as far as essentials of plot are concerned.
If You navigated the URL I gave, the credentials of the lyricist seemed acceptable. I cited it
hoping it was a reasonable approximation of original, synopsised to make quick read.
So sue me.

Here is review from New York Times:

"There is a rhythmic inventiveness and pulsating drive to the music that seems a bracingly American
aspect of Mr. Levy's Expressionism ... the score teems with surging music ... gripping ... and, as someone
who knows the ways of the theater, he can create characters through music. He has given us an
engrossing musical drama. How Mourning Becomes Electra stacks up against the works of Strauss and
Berg or other giants is to me a boring question. Let history decide. A fascinating new opera held my
interest and stirred the audience."

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Hardly Electra - 09/19/02 12:00 AM
So sue me.

Dear Dr. Bill,

I'm calling my lawyer even as we speak. Wanna settle out of court?

Posted By: wwh Re: Hardly Electra - 09/19/02 12:03 AM
Instead, write an opera about it. Electra Raped Again.

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Hardly Electra - 09/19/02 12:24 AM
Hey, Dr. Bill... perhaps we can settle up with this. Here's the composer's program note from the Opera which is a thorpough and intriguing look at the process of adapting a pre-existing work as an operatic production, and I recommend any opera enthusiasts to read this for that in itself. But here is the point I was trying to make, Good Doctor, straight form the composer's lips:

With first-time librettist, the late Henry Butler, an experienced actor and stage director, it was surprisingly easy to abandon the play's repetitive hyperbole. We retained the dramatic structure of the work and the nature of its characters, but supplanted its verbal excesses with direct, minimal language. The libretto became the play paraphrased, reduced to its essence, the excluded text being replaced in another way. It would become the dimension that eluded O'Neill: musical poetry.

The essence of an operatic work is, of course, the musical treatment including the lyrics.

A broader, more profound search takes place when the imagination is so fired by the drama that there is no resisting the urgency to re-interpret it musically. The aim is not to replace a work: O'Neill's Electra does not replace The Oresteia, and my opera does not replace the O'Neill play - neither is Shakespeare's Othello replaced by Verdi's equally masterful opera. But envisioning the larger canvass still leads to the critical question: can one add a compelling dimension to the original work? If not, does the same story retold in another medium need to exist?

--both quotes Marvin David Levy


Thanks, BTW, for bringing this work to my attention, Dr. Bill...I look forward to seeing a production of it someday. The composer's essay demonstrates his integrity...must've been an intriguing production. Any opera aficionadoes out there familiar with Levy's work, or this particular piece?

Posted By: wwh Re: Hardly Electra - 09/19/02 12:54 AM
Dear WO'N: Of course there had to be a lot of changes, to go from theatre to opera.
But the murders and motives need not have been changed. I just find it hard to
swallow a middle aged woman committing murder just to change bed ompanion.
And the other murders are almost equally pointless, except as they runin the
life of the daughter, which is the key part. The bitch deserved to suffer.
How different is the play in these matters?

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Hardly Electra - 09/19/02 02:40 AM
But the murders and motives need not have been changed. I just find it hard to swallow a middle aged woman committing murder just to change bed companion.
And the other murders are almost equally pointless, except as they ruin the life of the daughter, which is the key part. The bitch deserved to suffer. How different is the play in these matters?

Dr. Bill, by focusing on the murder and motives, bed companions, etc. you're just scratching the surface. Did you read either link...either the review or Levy's essay? It's all there. These both provide the depth of subtext, the exploration of the greater forces beneath these acts as depicted in character and allegory going back to the original Greek treatment 2,500 years ago!

Posted By: wwh Re: Hardly Electra - 09/19/02 01:41 PM
Dear WO'N: I'm snowed under.

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Hardly Electra - 09/19/02 03:07 PM
Dear Dr. Bill: And the snow's getting deep.

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