Cher Public

Wanting magic

AP Photo/Kathy Willens“As the Met chorus raised their voices at the climax of Les Contes d’Hoffmann Thursday night, the tavern setting opened up, revealing … a gray wall. It was a sadly appropriate visual symbol for a glamour-deprived dud of a new production.” [NY Post]

  • squirrel


  • justanothertenor

    Bravo JJ!

    • Theseus

      Fragile alcoholics should be slim? Many alcoholics are overweight. I don’t see the point of this Tommasini-like comment…

      • justanothertenor


      • louannd

        I took that to mean physiologically fragile and compromised not mentally fragile, which is what I think is your point.

  • JJ might get banned from the Met again after this.

  • Bianca Castafiore

    what did you expect? he was going for kafka, remember?

    they don’t do glamour anymore, the way *I* did in my prime…

  • oh, where are MrsJC and Famous Quickly! She could sing Olympia tomorrow; it’s just a matter of color and tessitura.

  • CruzSF

    Very painful, and yet not offensive. No singer was called a “bad joke.”

  • Seems that the met is going for the pair down stripped bare stage productions these days. After the Zefirelli years I am not surprised.

    I can’t wait to see it on the HD moviecast.

    • Alto

      Mr. Z. has plenty to answer for. But how is this his fault?

      • I’m not saying it’s La Zefa’s fault. I am saying after the years of opulence when more was more and bigger was always better(in which he was the high priest), it is a natural reaction to move away from that and use more pared down productions and minimalist stagings.

  • Huh, I’m surprised at the undiluted pan, but that’s how it goes.

  • Dan

    OT: But I just remembered that there are two Joseph Callejas. One is the tenor in this production. The other, I am reminded by a friend when talking about this production to her, is the late Joe C., the rapper and sidekick of late-90s/early-2000s rock/rapper Kid Rock. If you weren’t in fourth through seventh grades when Kid Rock was popular, this might not mean much to you. But to those of you who were, this might be--as for me--a HUGE revelation.

  • RDaggle

    Sher’s production really flattened out all the crazy that is actually in this piece. He’s the Anti-regie!

    His next project will be “The Rake’s Progress” set in a suburban cubefarm where Baba the Turk is an Admin. Assist. with a little bit of a moustache problem.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Sher should dump that Yeargan guy as his designer, but then who would tell Sher what opera should be about? As for Levine, his genius is indisputable, but he is burned out on many works of the standard repertoire, including HOFFMANN, and has been like that for several years. At least his back held up and that’s a very good thing.

    • Alto

      What? Michael Yeargan has done some of the best opera sets now on the international stage. A designer takes his cue from the director, not vice-versa.

      • Regina delle fate

        Hear, hear, Alto. He designed an unforgettable Eugene Onegin for Andrei Serban at Welsh National Opera 25 years ago.

  • mrmyster

    Good going, JJo!!!! You told the truth on Hoffman and it
    needed to be done. Right on. I always knew you were going
    to be a reliable New York press opera critic!
    Now, next summer come out and review SFeO’s new
    production of Hoffman -- with Paul Groves as Hoffman.
    Hee haw!

    • CruzSF

      Will Groves be wearing pasties?

      • mrmyster

        More to the point, will Groves be wearing
        any top voice?

    • Alto

      I would love to hear Groves as Hoffmann.

    • CruzSF

      Looked at SFe’s 2010 season. Looks interesting, in particular (to me), Life Is a Dream. I don’t know anything about this work (despite its winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2000) but I’m often willing to try new stuff (Rufus excepted).

      I’m guessing you’ll pass on SFe’s Hoffmann since it’s not one of your favorites to begin with.

      • Graciella Scusi

        Christopher Alden, who directed NYCity Opera’s recent Don Giovanni is directing the Hoffmann in Santa Fe, and Erin Wall, who occasionally has posted here in the past, is doing all three heroines.

        • CruzSF

          Erin Wall has appeared here as a commenter? How is she as a singer? I read about her in “Fortissimo.”

        • bassoprofundo

          Cruz: here’s my shot at a Cieca-esque blind. Which Canadian soprano is a good but not great singer, kind but ditzy, and is having an illegitimate child soon?

        • CruzSF

          Ooooo. That’s a good and tasty one!

        • justanothertenor

          You forgot to mention the illegitimate child is that of one of her employers!

      • Oh, it’s been a while since anyone called Rufus “new stuff.”

  • ellerveira

    If you can get praised for putting Tristan in barren rooms, why not a grey wall for Hoffmann? Aren’t minimalism and unrelatedness the touchstones for staging these days? The less the staging has to do with the opera, the better, you know.

    • kashania

      Barren rooms and a minimalist approach don’t automatically make for good or bad productions. It’s how they’re employed.

    • Signor Bruschino

      Sitting in the grand tier on opening night, next to a very bored elderly lady, the wall started to open, and she exclaimed ‘now its gonna get good’… and she was quite disappointed- as was I.

      Bart Sher (and his team) know how to fill spaces well (no one can deny that their ‘Light in the Piazza’ and ‘South Pacific’ were not just visually a treat, but a great ‘additional character’… There was no character to this production or this design, and I think that is ultimately what sunk it.

      At the opening night party, the MET staff seemed quite surprised by the positive audience reaction. I was as well

    • You are bordering on getting boring here because you have made this point a dozen times before or more. Another boring aspect is that you’re making value judgments on productions you have never seen, based at best on hearsay and at worst on sheer prejudice. Could you try a another gambit for a change?

      • ellerveira

        Have I ever said anything “interesting” here or would you prefer me to be gone?

  • Jay

    Much better writing here than in the NY Times review! Angela Meade (Countess) had the Met audience roaring at the 12/4 Figaro and justifiably so. Big voice, great technique, good tone color. Big improvement after Dasch’s awful performance last week (which I heard streamed).

    The titters amongst some in the audience in the recitative before “Dove sono” (which had to do with the respective sizes of the performers portraying the Countess and Susanna) were quickly forgotten and the aria earned the night’s biggest ovation.

    Danielle de Niese had to pull out after the second act last night (sinuses, allergies) and Lisette Oropesa stepped in without a hitch, easy enough since she’s been performing the role in this production. However, I thought Danielle and Luca Pisaroni had better chemistry (no doubt from previous performances together).

    What a treat to hear two top-notch baritones (Pisaroni and Peter Mattei) in the span of less than 24 hours.
    Today’s FTHOTD started behind schedule (about 1:15 p.m.), but once underway, very powerful, as anticipated. However, I made a huge mistake and sat on the side aisle in the orchestra because I needed to make a quick getaway to catch a train. Had forgotten those seats are under the boxes and the sound was so muffled. Never again!