Headshot of La Cieca

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Careless whisper

george_steel_choose_lifeLa Cieca has heard that, not to be outdone by Peter Gelb‘s discovery of hot young directors like Luc Bondy and Patrice Chéreau, NYCO’s George Steel is boldly leaping forward into the 20th century by signing up Peter Sellars for a series of productions.

In other music news, everyone down at Danceteria is just wild for that new girl singer Madonna.

87 comments

  • luvtennis says:

    Jack:

    Your example strikes me as entirely inapt: Mozart and Da Ponte wrote Nozze to be performed as an opera. If someone decided to do a MOVIE based on the work, then I think your analogy might be more apt.

    • luvtennis says:

      Sorry for the inadvertent double post!

      La Cieca:

      I appreciate your continued support of “production-driven” opera. As you point out, there is absolutely nothing immoral about a director re-imagining the setting or updating the time period of an opera. Moreover, as you point out, there will always be numerous traditional productions available for those who prefer them.

      That said, I think that sometimes we are talking past one another on this issue -- perhaps we are using too much short-hand.

      Let me explain -- for me at least, when I express outrage against regie in general, what I really mean is that a particular “regie” production has failed to move or impress me (or angered or annoyed me). Of course, lots of “traditional” stagings also fail in that sense.

      The difference is this: Regie stagings start from the premise that the changes introduced by the production team (often radical in nature) are there because they will reveal something about the work (or at least emphasize some aspect of the work) that more traditional stagings have missed. A much more risky artistic proposition, wouldn’t you agree?

      After all, Aida became one of the most popular operas thru the vehicle of pretty conventional stagings. Same is true of virtually all of the standard rep. So if you are going to deliberately work against those conventions, then, for me at least, you had better get it right.

      Just like making a movie from a book. You may not like a faithful rendering, but you are not likely to be as outraged if it doesn’t work, then you would be with a similarly unsuccessful radical re-interpretation.

      Is that fair? Maybe not.

      Just my take

  • Harry says:

    The fashion for directors like Sellars ‘to supposedly reveal’ things in opera we never saw before….
    are all borne out of the pretentious concept that audience are too dumb to see certain similar aspects in them -- in passing -in the first place.
    Typical: This ‘look! look!’ see- see ….See ‘the relationship’. There! It is that ‘still going on in modern times’ type.

    So chuck in a swimming pool, a skyscraper, a modern chef’s kitchen, a disco …. what have you. F…..k the changed behavioral customs, circumstance, outlook, and manners of people in modern dress. Don’t worry if the whole politico-social landscape has changed forever. It is the Sellars, the Koskys, of their World at their directorial exercise making a dollar and taking managements for a ride!
    Laughing themselves shit-less all the way to the bank.
    Wouldn’t everybody like to be a fly on the wall, listening and spying while these idiots promote their ideas to gullible fools? It would be a case of mentioning some point, about what they plan if given the chance. The idiot managements then plead “Tell us more…we are so excited….we want to be first to produce it”. The fuck wit directors then know they have just hooked their big fish. A fish which is then netted and bagged, helpless: before being devoured by these rampant egos, running amok. Well first you had Enron, now in Opera: now you have this regie group that could be called ‘Mind-con’ -the trading purveyors of emulsified, dis-functional, flattened cultural ‘Zombie’ thought. Creating mental grid -lock traffic-jams and jarring logic collisions in any observer’s mind , watching. By asking opera goers to pay to have a discourse in irrational thought, whilst trying to connect it to a musical score where ‘actual rules of composition are set, in one form or another.’
    It is strange and paradoxical that opera goers will scream the place down, if some singer sings a B instead of a C. But being confronted with visual swill- straight from the regie ‘pig trough’, will defend it to the rafters!. Something is screwy, as they say.
    If only these peanut-head regie directors were made to justify their same logic concepts and outlook, they apply to opera plots: into similar actual identical practice in their daily life and justify ‘its truths’. It would not be long before their friends and associates called for ‘the secure take -away cart, followed by forced incarceration, the shrinks, and the strait-jackets’. From believing that a Swedish Royal court is really in fact the Wild West, or that Teutonic legendary figures did not possibly live in the past, but actually do, in some future post nuclear Age. Try telling that, to the next person you see!!!! And people try and keep a straight face reading and hearing people call these brain-dead creatures, geniuses !!!!!! Who is mad around here?

    Perhaps it is time for opera managements to save costs and employ some good real gorillas and monkeys to direct their productions. The cost would be only have to be in peanuts, anyway. After all elephants have been known to do rather nice paintings that people brought. Why not real monkey produced opera?
    No one could accuse anyone of not being ‘trendy enough’.

  • Carloquinto says:

    Harry, you bring up another interesting point. I often think, after I hear a director in an interview trying to explain his or her procution, that these kinds or directors are like motivational speakers. They know how to sell an idea, no matter how terrible, with smoke and mirrors and show biz pizazz. I think they persuade opera managers and casts that their bizarre ideas are right for the opera. The managers are in a panic to sell seats. The singers don’t dare speak up becuase they may lose their jobs and/or get a bad reputation. So the director cons everyone and bored critics and “sophisticated” opera fans (some of them) fall for it too. Director’s ideas are rarely explained in the program. I guess we are just supposed to “get it.” So we get Tosca in the twentieth century with references to Napolean, Sonnambula set as a rehearsal (because someone who is not very bright does not like the libretto), and photographers at Lucia’s wedding. And the productions in Europe are often much worse. They make American shows look timid. Again, audiences need to rebel against these con artist opera director productions or we will soon see more of the infamous regie productions that La Cieca makes justifiable fun of.