Kanye West’s opera: 11 tweets that sum up what music critics and fans really thought
26 November 2019, 17:45 | Updated: 26 November 2019, 18:01
Kanye West’s first ‘opera’, Nebuchadnezzar, premiered at Hollywood Bowl on the weekend – and the reviews are in.
Kanye West’s first opera premiered at Hollywood Bowl on the weekend, and people were always bound to have their say.
Now, the official reviews for Nebuchadnezzar are in and they’re… mixed.
The New York Times questions whether Nebuchadnezzar is even an opera at all – Classical Music Editor, Zachary Woolfe says it’s really more of an oratorio in his review titled “Kanye West Is Operatic. His Opera Isn’t” (and has a few other rather honest things to say about it).
The Guardian gives it two stars out of five (ooch), and describes it as having “ramshackle delivery, halting Bible readings and a thunderous choir”.
Meanwhile, Paul Thompson at Rolling Stone called it “too muddled and off-the-cuff to work as a narrative piece, too linear to read as a performance installation.”
Why are people saying Kanye West’s opera is actually an oratorio?
An oratorio is defined by Grove Dictionary of Music as “An extended musical setting of a sacred text made up of dramatic, narrative and contemplative elements”.
Whereas, “most narrowly conceived, the word ‘opera’ signifies a drama in which the actors and actresses sing throughout.”
According to these definitions – and our understanding of Bach’s Passions versus, say, Verdi’s La Traviata, we have to say we’re inclined to agree. Yeezy’s production is based on a Biblical story, full of Biblical readings, and features chorus passages heavily.
And very generally speaking, oratorios err towards the sacred, and operas towards the secular. That might also be why reviewers and tweeters are landing on the conclusion that Yeezy has mis-identified the genre of his own work...
kanye: then the king nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face— KEONFXCK!NGWE$T (@KEONFXCKINGWEST) November 25, 2019
kanye: then the king nebuchadnezzar fell upon his FACE
kanye: THEN THE KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR FELL UPON HIS FACE
sheck wes: pic.twitter.com/a6Yx74hX99
Whether Nebuchadnezzar is technically an opera, an oratorio, or something else altogether, we enjoyed seeing glimpses of the new piece of the weekend.
Here’s what Twitter had to say about the first work of this kind from “the greatest artist that God has ever created” below:
Opera or oratorio?
These guys are both proud, but unsure why...
Think this means she liked it...
Yeezy forgot to do his Latin homework
... but is acing Bible studies.
Turns out Ye didn’t need Latin after all.
These guys don’t mince words...
This is bad!!!! Beautiful voices are not enough to save it. And the performance started more than 2 hours late. Also, why are they singing in Latin, a language which didn’t exist for 700 years after Neb’s death, and that in a completely different continent? #Nebuchadnezzar #Kanye— Vox Operae (@voxoperae) November 25, 2019
WELL, there’s late, and there’s late.
Oh my god, the Kanye opera (again, oratorio!) was not even an hour long. After starting more than two hours late.— Josh Barone (@joshbarone) November 25, 2019