Customizing a mash-up
The New York Times - 02/24/2014
When opera was a much younger art form, star singers could choose which arias they wanted to sing, often swapping in favorite numbers that showed off their voices to best advantage for whatever the lowly composers and librettists had originally written.
Now audiences at the Metropolitan Opera will have an opportunity to see this venerable tradition of authentic inauthenticity resurrected on Wednesday, when the company revives its popular production of “The Enchanted Island.” The revival features a pair of substitute arias tailored to its star singers, Plácido Domingo and Susan Graham.
“The Enchanted Island” was designed to subvert modern ideas about the primacy of composers’ intentions. It is a pastiche, or pasticcio: another tradition brought back from those earlier days, when it was common to stitch together arias and choruses and scenes from a variety of composers and adapt them to new or heavily revised librettos.