Cher Public

Spinning chorus

katharina_spider“Her gal-pal friends play with what look like the tails of exotic serpents and keep huge spiders as pets. I was not exactly sure what this all meant. Still, the kids squealed with delight.” No more delighted than La Cieca was when she realized that Katharina Wagner has finally caught up to Mary Zimmerman in the use of oversized arachnidae in operatic Regie! [NY Times]




    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!

    • Camille

      Mint juleps and valiums on the verandah. Right NOW!

  • Someone help me hold BABs down. And fer chrissake, where the hell is that tranquilizor gun??!

  • CruzSF

    Tannhauser cut to 70 minutes?! Somewhere, a traditionalist is turning over in his grave.

    • richard

      Probably so. But you know if these shows tailored for young children are really as well received as the article claims, what a terrific idea!!!!

      Getting little kids to enjoy an opera, even a very simplified version, is a wonderful way to build future audiences.

      I’m pleased to see that the Met is doing something again along these lines with their condensed version of the Magic Flute. Many years ago they gave special student performances for NYC school kids but they haven’t done that for ages. And those weren’t really specially tailored for kids, they were just performances of repertory pieces with b level casts. Actually the very first performance in the new Met was a matinee of Fanciulla (!!!!!) for the schoolkids. (Bing complained that many of the kids left their chewing gum on the bottom of the pristine seats)

      Briefly, MEt futures listed a “family version” of BArtered Bride but that seems to have disappeared. Maybe they decided to throw out the old production from the 70s (last week’s story) rather than trying to come up with a version suitable for younger audiences.

      The ballet has been doing this kind of thing for years, mostly with the Nutcracker at Christmas time.

      Probably the percentage of audiences that see these kids show that develop into regular fans is on the small side, but hey you have to start somewhere .

      • CruzSF

        richard wrote:

        if these shows tailored for young children are really as well received as the article claims, what a terrific idea!!!!

        I absolutely agree with you, richard. I still think of the post someone made here a few months ago, about the two young men (16-17 years old?) he saw at the opera house in Germany. After the performance, the 2 boys discussed the opera while in the coat check line. At coat check, they picked up their skateboards and rode off into the night. To me, that’s a beautiful story about now, and a hopeful story about the future.

        Couldn’t the Met open up a rehearsal space for a kiddie show like K Wagner did at Bayreuth? Then they wouldn’t have to worry about gum stuck to the precious seats.

      • fartnose mcgoo

        Actually, I believe the Met uses its dress rehearsals to let students see opera. I’m a high-schooler and that’s how I saw Der Rosenkavalier this past year, which got me interested in Strauss’s operas (maybe my favorite opera composer currently).

        I know City Opera made their operas more accessible to young kids. When I saw Le Nozze Di Figaro in 2004, they had discussions with parents and their kids before it and even took us onstage to see the Act I set. While I can’t say I liked the opera then (I was only ten and it was nearly four hours), I thought it was pretty cool.

        • fartnose mcgoo

          I also saw Trittico this way. They normally put the kids in the Dress and Family Circles. But it was exciting during intermission, when I saw five public school kids excitedly talking about how one cried and how surprised they were that Suor Angelica was once a “crazy slut.”

        • CruzSF

          now that’s engagement.

        • Camille

          Mr. Magoo: thank you very, very much for giving your viewpoint as it is both interesting and unusual one so young should care enough to do so and it is heartening to us oldtimers to know that somehow or another, opera will carry on.

        • Straussmonster

          I saw some probably high-school kids at a Boccanegra one night; they were very excitedly peering into the pit during intermission, and some of the orchestral players were happy to talk back and demonstrate.

          I hope you keep engaging with the Strauss corpus, Mcgoo, and per my nom de guerre I would be happy to give recommendations.


          Whay is everyone so careful not to call you “Fart”?

        • fartnose mcgoo

          I’m not sure Betsy. I’m fine if people call me Fart, Fartnose, Mc., Goo, Mcgoo etc…It’s not as if it’s my real name.

          Or is it?


          Okay, as long as I know it doesn’t offend you, I won’t bother.

        • FlorezFan

          I sat next to some high school kids on the opening night of the Met’s Salome. When the Herod came out for his curtain call, one of the boys shouted out, “You’re a perv!!!”

  • Signor Bruschino

    at least the times has a presence at bayreuth this year (its been 2 or 3 years since AT ‘reviewed’ a performance there)…

    for a chuckle, its interesting to look at the times’ reaction to the 1976 Chereau ring- not a positive review at all (calling it a ‘gamble that did not pay off…’)

    • Byrnham Woode

      “at least the times has a presence at bayreuth this year (its been 2 or 3 years since AT ‘reviewed’ a performance there)…”

      The Times may have skipped Bayreuth the past few years, since the last new production was in 2007 -- Katarina’s MEISTERSINGER. The new LOHENGRIN is the first since then.

  • lorenzo.venezia

    It’s very German. They take their culture seriously and include the kids always. When I bought my ticket for the museum insul (five museums), it included entrance to all 57 (I counted them!!) museums in the city of Berlin. Children were atop the Reichstag and carefully taken through Liebeskind’s Jewish Museum. Unlike the Japanese who pretend WWII didn’t happen and don’t teach it in schools, the Germans have taken on their past; the kids will know what happened, and also what’s happening. Classrooms of kids were sketching the Van Goghs at Munich’s Neue Pinakotek; it was lovely.


    I spent an awful lot of my professional life working with and for children — of all ages. Kids come into the theatre excited, asking only one thing — “Tell me a story.” To a great extent, the same is true of adult audiences, at least the unsophisticated, unjaded ones. “Tell me a story.”

    To fulfill those expectations, you’ve got to know what the story is and then tell it well. I have no argument with modern, so-called “Regie” productions, if the regie does those two things.

    This production from Bayreuth excites me because of one detail — when the doors open at the end, as if to say, “Go, the mass is ended, but carry the magic you have seen inside these walls into the world outside.”

    Instead of setting aside a space as Cruz suggests, I advocate getting a van that can be parked on the street; the side opens up, a little scenery emerges, and we have a fifteen-minute raree of La Traviata or Don Giovanni. Saying, in essence, that you don’t “go to see” La Traviata, but instead that “Sempre libera is part of your life, of living. Opera does not have to be a separate art form; it can Be.

    A year or so ago, in Boston I think, they dressed Joshua Bell in nondescript clothing and had him play his violin in a subway station. The crowds passed him by without a glance. Except — EXCEPT EXCEPT EXCEPT --for a kid about 7 years old who wanted to stop and listen. His mother had to pick him up physically and carry him off, squalling all the way. THAT — ladies and gentlemen — is the state of art today: 1) a thing is only good if you pay through the nose for it, and 2) beauty does not happen in a subway. Dare I say that it is also the mindset that has been expressed many times on these pages.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      It was DC, and it was morning rush. Give people a break. Afternoon rush could have been very different.


        Oh, DC, that does make everything different. Glad it wasn’t Los Angeles; he’d have been lucky to escape with his life. Oh, that’s right, you can’t fit a whole violin in the Los Angeles subway.


          “Give people a break.” My God, man, I’ve just been tranquilized on my own verandah and stuffed full of pills and bad bourbon. Talk about breaks , . .

        • Camille

          Bets -- neither straight jackets nor enemas were administered so don’t complain now, Missy!

          Your line “Opera does not have to be a separate art form; it can BE”, is one of the most illumined concepts I have read, here on la Boite. Very lovely post, indeed!

    • PokeyGascon

      Brava, BAB. You are my favourite imaginary friend.

  • I’m all for short kid-friendly , cut-down versions of operas. Tannhäuser seems like a very odd choice for children (I would have chosen Lohengrin) but apparently it worked. Good on them!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    I wonder if TT paid his own way to Europe or if the NYT is covering his expenses.

  • Yeah, but because of this graphic, I wanna talk about the Spiderman musical that’s allegedly destined for Broadway. Personally, I think if Mary Zimmerman directed it, there’d be a reason to see it. Frankly, between Taymor and Zimmerman, I prefer MZ. I just think she gets at the emotional core of things more often than not… …because I cried my eyes out watching ‘Metamorphoses,’ and actually liked her ‘Lucia,’ that’s why.


    Geez, it’s almost the end of the firs week of August. Isn’t it about time for Gelb to announce who will be conducting Opening Night?

    • OpinionatedNeophyte

      What’s Placido up to…….

  • MontyNostry

    A Wagnerian heroine whose friends keep spiders? Rather than Elisabeth, surely it should be Senta — it’s her pals who sing a spinning song.

  • manou

    Je pars quelques jours en France et a mon retour je vois qu’il y en a toujours parmi nous qui ont une araignée dans le plafond…

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

      Bien revenu, manou -- and I’m afraid that Britain (well, Wales anyway) has been falling to pieces in your absence. For the second year running, Bryn has to cancel his festival:

      Poor sales. Alas, not even Arachne could put a creative spin on this story. Bryn is a draw, so it must be doen to location, location, location…

      • manou

        Merci BV -- I also had the privilege to read “Enrique Iglesias Water-Skis Naked” from the link you gave……don’t all rush: no photos.

  • orfeoedeuridice

    A bit out of subject but the Met’s HD Rondine will be on DVD soon!

  • Nerva Nelli

    Meanwhile, Tony (yes traveling at the TIMES’ expense, are you kidding?) is at his exercise:

    “The tenor Jeffrey Dowd brought a robust voice to the title role and looked endearing in his ragtag shirt and dingy jeans.”

    Maybe TT should do some Grace Ann-like boundary crashing and sing Venus next time around. Can you Photoshop that, Cieca?