Cher Public

  • bluecabochon: Jungfer, I don’t think that the production has deteriorated. It looks pretty much as it always has and the costumes... 5:47 PM
  • aulus agerius: Rosina, it’s an awkward sentence due to the word ‘when’ . It does say what you say. I’m sure CC was... 5:45 PM
  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin: I first heard her as Martinu’s “Julietta 221; (d’ya all remember Martinu? judging from... 5:42 PM
  • Bill: To my knowledge the Met does the Paris version – or has done so since the 1977 production was new (years ago Kempe did the... 5:41 PM
  • grisha: httpv://www.youtub qo15Z8w 5:34 PM
  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin: And let us thank Patricia Ziprodt for those! Starting in 1977, I got to wear three of them in the course of... 5:33 PM
  • Cicciabella: Wow, first Grim expounding on Handel, now Batty with the whole Minnesingers backstory. Parterre is all the university you... 5:23 PM
  • rote rosen: “…one hopes for the best for Ms Westbroek, a truly giving and talented performer but one whose voice has never... 5:16 PM

Teaching moment

“After putting off for a week trying to make some sense of the horrific mess that is the Met’s new Faust, I’m finally just going to give up. There are some disasters that bear writing about as what you might call teaching opportunities: this season’s Don Giovanni, for example, as a cautionary tale about the perils of timid conservatism. But there’s nothing to be learned from this Faust besides, perhaps, ‘never hire Des McAnuff to direct another opera under any circumstances’.” [Musical America]


  • arepo says:

    Hi Idia Legray! I didn’t mean to say that you “stole” my name, it’s just that I get private e-mails telling me they agree (or disagree as the case may be) with something I said, and I have to tell them it wasn’t me.
    Are you also on Opera-L? If so, what is your user name? Maybe I can change to that one, and then all will be equal with the world! LOLOL
    Signed: Arepo (formerly Idia Legray)

  • LeperEllo says:

    I agreed with a lot of JJ’s article, until this:

    “…after all, it would seem intuitively obvious that the skills of a theater director should be mostly transferable to the opera house.”

    I think it was meant rhetorically, but it seems to me that this statement gets at the very heart of the problem the article addresses. Why should it seem intuitively obvious that a theater director’s skills should be transferable (even with that qualifier “mostly”) to the opera house? Without fleshing out that thought, one might find a parallel statement in saying a painter’s skills should be transferable to sculpting: both work with malleable materials to create an expressive output that might (hopefully) end up on display in a gallery or a museum or a private collection. I can’t imagine for a moment that is what JJ meant but I am left wondering.

    Maybe some impresarios do think along those lines…

    It has never seemed obvious to me that a theater director’s skills would be equally at home on the opera stage. They are different forms of expressions, different art forms with different requirements. Granted, both work with live performers, lighting, costumes and both presumably exist to tell a story but doesn’t the opera director need much more? An opera director also needs to include specific items in his toolbox: awareness of musical form (otherwise, what is one to do with all those ritornellos and da capos), sensitivity to musical cues and emotional content, an ear for musical balance and sense of line and proportion, and a trust that we in the audience will “get it” if compositional aspects of the art form are allowed to take center stage now and then. We don’t need every moment filled with stage movement; it’s perfectly okay with us if Donizetti or Mascagni gets the limelight now and then. It is part of the art form, and we expect it.

    Staging Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” is a vastly different undertaking than taking on Robert Ward’s opera of the same title and subject. I would not expect a “theater” director to necessarily be able to transfer his skills from one version to the other. Kudos to him if he can pull off both, but the needs of one are not the same as the other.

    • Indiana Loiterer III says:

      It depends on what sort of spoken drama a stage director is used to directing. Not all spoken drama demands that every moment be filled with stage movement. Think of all those big speeches in Shakespeare (or in Racine, or Sophocles), which demand “an awareness of [rhetorical] form…sensitivity to [rhetorical] cues and emotional content…and a trust that we in the audience will get it if [strictly poetic] aspects of the art form are allowed to take center stage for a while.” Part of the problem here is that we in the States don’t get much in the way of non-naturalistic theater except the occasional Shakespeare festival; we don’t get much of a chance to deal with those parts of the spoken-theater canon that are actually closer to the way opera behaves than the current naturalistic mainstream.

  • parpignol says:

    I saw Madame Butterfly last night, and Liping Zhang gave a very fine and moving performance; the production does require one singing actress at the center of it, everyone else can be a puppet; and the production is wonderful, still makes me gasp at moments; love the horizon panel in the back where the performers ascend to the hilltop, love the mirroring above; the lanterns in the love duet; the brilliant costumes; great death scene; one hesitation: the brilliant descent of the curtain of blossoms at the end of the act 1 love duet: wouldn’t it be even more fitting at the end of act 2, following the flower duet? instead of the current act 2 ending with bouquets of poppies harvested from the backs of the prostrate ninja stagehands? and a direction quibble: on the climactic phrase of Un Bel Di “per non morir al primo incontro” the soprano collapses between the sliding panels, as if to demonstrate too literally her death, at a moment when the music actually soars rather than collapses, so she isn’t quite able to bring out the big note to fullest effect--
    and re Mr. Jorden’s essay on new productions in general during the Gelb era, one might have noted the fact that McVicar, an opera director after all, produced an excellent Trovatore for a company that seemed unable to manage that, but then a very disappointing Anna Bolena production; and perhaps one might also have mentioned Richard Eyre, a theater director, who had reasonably good success replacing the Zeffirelli Carmen. . .

    • suzyQ says:

      Parpignol, I was there too last night and I agree that it was Zhang was fantastic! The production is so stunning and I am so moved every time that I see it. My husband said that he couldn’t hear Robert Dean Smith too well and we were in the grand tier. I like Smith very much and had no complaint with him. I’m thinking of going again to see Racette.

    • iltenoredigrazia says:

      “…an excellent Trovatore..”? Are we grading on a curve now?

  • suzyQ says:

    I want to say “that Zhang was fantastic”

  • Perles75 says:

    I also was at the HD yesterday evening (in Paris). I’m not really a fan of french opera and that was my first Faust, but I had fun!

    I didn’t find the staging as horrible as some say. It had interesting ideas with a couple of missed shots (the mummies in the sabba). I liked the idea of assimilating hell with nuclear fallout, but frankly I wouldn’t have thought at Faust as a nuclear physicist if DiDonato hadn’t mentioned it in the presentation. I would have considered him more generally as a disillusioned scientist of the XX century -and perhaps it’s better this way (also because the mass scenes with the soldiers and the women were closer the the first than to the second world war, in style).

    From the broadcasting all singer sounded really good with the exception of Poplavskaya (sorry for the probable misspelling) that had a too fragile voice for me, even for the role of Marguerite. I liked very much some “acting color” in her voice though.
    I didn’t consider Kaufmann’s voice strained at all, I enjoyed his performance. The acting also was good, even if perhaps a bit subdued. Pape was the star of the day though. Good secondary roles, and in general very good acting from the whole cast.

    Special mention to the orchestra and the conductor, with a very engaging approach and phrasing.

    Before the show I was a bit skeptical about HD but I think I will repeat the experience. It was exciting for me to think that I was listening live in Paris together with a friend of mine in Munich something performed in New York!

  • Perles75 says:

    By the way, is it true that American audience is more conservative, with respect to the mise en scène, than its european counterpart, hence the critics to very modern settings?
    I was quite surprised, for example, at how many times DiDonato stressed the modernity of the staging in the interviews… I saw much worse here in Europe!

  • FragendeFrau82 says:

    Regarding directors of opera: NC Opera is presenting Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles, which is described as a dance opera.

    The director (and choreographer) is Robert Weiss, the artistic director of Carolina Ballet, music direction by Wilson Southerland.

    Based on the film of the same name, it is described as featuring “a quartet of young singers along with dancers”. I’ll give this a try if I can, out of sheer curiosity.

  • floridante2k says:

    I enjoyed the singing :) MP was a little tentative for the jewel song but overall in the latter Acts everyone was singing well.

    No big complaint and I enjoyed it. The director should have taken a solo bow… If he had the guts and drive to fight Gounod’s music all the way, HE should have the guts to face the audience.

    I had my share of ‘European’ regies in my students days in Europe… some of them were brilliant and some of them were not… DM’s direction IMHO belongs to the latter case.