Cher Public

The revolution will be televised

Ah, finally a light begins to break: “60 Minutes is filming a long-planned segment on the Met, with the new production of Rigoletto providing a through line…. When [Michael] Mayer sprints down the aisles onto the stage to tweak a bit of business, he is trailed not just by a couple of staff directors with notebooks but often by a cameraman or two. A Japanese film crew has also been tailing him for its own documentary.” [New York Times]

  • norma54

    How come TRASH always gets publicity? From inside reports it will be hard to seperate the booing from the laughing. Another CRAPtacular production that the MET will have to replace in the next few years.

    • Pelleas

      I agree! How awful--terrible--unforgiveable!! I don’t even have any inside reports to rely upon, but I just KNOW it will be GARBAGE, and look forward to not only its crash-and-burn but the demise of every career involved!!!

      How is it we can’t really judge a voice without hearing it in the house, yet CAN judge a production without having actually seen it? Parterre really is a magical place sometimes.

      • Camille

        Magical place = magical thinking, Pelléas.
        It’s a sort of Allemonde for opera queens—?

      • Pelleas my son,

        I don’t even have any inside reports to rely upon, but I just KNOW it will be GARBAGE

        Ok, there are MANY things I despise about ACD but why would any opera lover take issue with this?

        Honest and conscientious opera directors must find evocative and resonant new ways to stage an opera for contemporary audiences without tossing aside or ignoring in any meaningful way the full spirit and sense of the opera creator’s concept and vision as made manifest in the score.

        (emphases mine)

        • An opera lover would take issue with this because the statement is essentially without content. Who defines what is “meaningful,” what “the full spirit and sense of the opera creator’s concept and vision” actually is, and how such minute intellectual concepts can be made “manifest” in a partitur, which is nothing but a set of indications of what time and in what combinations various noises are made?

          “Evocation” and “relevance” are not abstract ideas floating around in a vacuum somewhere. An opera is performed for an audience, some of whom may be moved and stimulated by what a director does, and others of whom may be bored or annoyed. But that reaction has little to do with this mythical fidelity to “creator’s concept and vision” except in the fevered imagination of ideologues like ACD, who last saw an opera staged in the theater sometime in the 1970s, so far as I can tell.

          • operapun

            The composer’s concept and vision is made manifest by the score.

          • armerjacquino

            Actually, the TITO story in the excerpt you’ve posted is a perfect example of a director INTERPRETING the score. The score doesn’t say anything explicit about what Vitellia and Sesto should do at that point- Ponnelle’s imagination created the moment.

          • Hogwash! During the tenor aria in act 2 of Traviata, the strings are marked Pizzicato, except for the double bass, which does not have such marking.

            1. Most conductors presume that Verdi forgot to add the pizzicato markings in the double bass and they instruct the double bass to play the pizzicato:

            2. Then there is the camp that adheres to the whole “forbidden to think, it is all written” view of the score. When presented with this situation, “well, the composer did not write those pizzicato markings so by golly he must’ve not wanted them.” And in looking for all the answers in the score, they ruin the moment and drawn the violins in the attempt:

            If we only look to the score for answers, we will not see any ornamentation in Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti or Mozart, to start with.

          • The composer’s concept and vision is made manifest by the score.

            Is it just me, or does this sound like a outtake from the Nicene Creed?

          • operapun

            Ponnelle’s interpretation was a meaningful staging of the composer’s concept and vision, made manifest by the score.

            I am not sure what we are arguing about here. Ponnelle’s imagination might have created the staging but Mozart is the one who put the fermata in the score in the first place.

          • armerjacquino

            Yes, Mozart put the fermata in the score. But the fermata doesn’t mean ‘Vitellia moves downstage’. It means ‘stop singing’. The fact that Sesto stops and then repeats himself could be interpreted hundreds of ways. The example cited comes from Ponnelle’s brain, not Mozart’s.

          • armerjacquino

            For example: Sesto could be facing Vitellia. Guardami, he sings, right in her eyes, meaning look at me, see how sincere I am? But there is no response, so he repeats it.

            Totally faithful to the fermata and totally different to what Ponnelle chose to do. So which one represents Mozart’s ‘concept and vision’?

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            You raise an interesting point about editorial standardizations of this elements and it’s much too complicated to discuss here. I hope you realize that violins and violas are NOT playing pizzicato in the accompaniment to the Jerry Hadley performance and they are clearly pizzicato in the Muti video.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            Ponnelle always did his personal preparation for his productions working directly from the full orchestra scores of the operas he staged. Conductors such as Karajan respected the fact that Jean Pierre knew every note, who played what and when. His stagings were not rinky tink to the music, but studies in finding ways to motivate repeteitions, making the staging result from the music, and so much more. He was extremely demanding in his lighting rehearsals and most of the light cues were also direct results of his interaction with the music. The camera treatments for his opera films, most of which were made in collaboration with Jean-Louis Martinoty, were also reflections of Ponnelle’s intimate knowledge of the music. He always inspired the real “stars” he often worked with to work harder than usual and his rehearsals were filled with and inspired by his devotion to opera.

          • Is it just me, or does this sound like a outtake from the Nicene Creed?
            No Cieca carissima, it is actually part of the sixth-century Gallican version, which some people consider heretic because, as we all know, the apostles spoke King James English and not Galician and thus could have not written it themselves. But then, some un affiliated southern baptists think it has a nice ring to it, so it is gaining traction.

            I hope you realize that violins and violas are NOT playing pizzicato
            yea, I know, but for some damn reason, my computer is not wanting to download YouTube vids. In my search, this one actually downloaded and when I listened,the basses were playing the pizzicato,which it what I wanted to illustrate. In my frustration, I did not even listened to the violins. I was just glad I did not have to wait 5 minutes for YT to download 3 minutes of a vid (as it did with the Alagna one) My bad. Poor choice of example, but hopefully some of my point comes across.

        • ianw2

          I earnestly believe that Debussy’s intent in Pelleas was to explore the twincesty homoerotic subtext between Pelleas and Golaud. Note the interchangeable voice types, and the idea of the unobtainable ‘woman’ that they both reach for with utter futility, each using her as a tool to taunt the other, as to deny their inner passions for one another.

          As any true scholar of the work understands, this thesis is absolutely supported by the woodwind writing in Act III, which is a direct musical manifestation of homosexual congress.

          • warmke

            The interweaving of the double reeds is almost unbearable at times.

          • ianw2

            Well of all the instrumentalists, the oboist is always the one that most looks like they’re fellating.

          • MontyNostry

            Clarinet, surely. Or maybe even the recorder.

          • Well, some will prefer the English Horn because, as many belive, it comes with a uncut reed.

            At the sametime, some size queens would say only the faggot would do. And will brag about how only the biggest will do for them, power fans.

            Others would scoff at the size queens for their close mindedness (it is not the size of the reed, it is the power in the lungs they will say) but then will look at the piccolo and repeat racial stereotypes that are best not even hinted.

          • Monty: Bass-clarinet!!

  • manou

    Rigoletto -- already reviewed:

  • No Expert

    Damrau was delightfully honest when Voigt interviewed her during the Maria Stuarda HD intermission. To paraphrase:

    Does setting the opera in 1960’s Las Vegas add any new insights into Verdi’s masterpiece?

    No…..but it doesn’t kill it either.

    • elsadreams

      yes…but in all fairness, she might have considered new insights into Gilda as mating with apes (from a past production)…which could be quiet traumatic. Cant wait for Vegas…!

      Now can we set Parsifal in Disneyworld?

      • Camille

        Let’s set it in Allemonde and have Parsifal and Pelléas meet up--turned out Golaud only wounded him and he escaped--and then find treueste liebe and live happily ever after.

        Whyever not?

        • Pelleas

          Guarantee Jonas as Parsifal and I’m all for it.

  • I cannot wait. I know the audience will erupt in a riot of boos on opening night, and honestly, who gives a fuck?

    For those who have see the Miller Rigoletto,this production is nothing new, except for the glitter and neon lights of Vegas. Ultimately, Rigoletto’s themes are about corrupt power and vengeance, and they are not exclusive to 16th century Mantua.

    • armerjacquino

      And given that 16th century Mantua was the era and location dreamed up to please the censors, the question of ‘composer’s intentions’ is even more moot than usual.

      • grimoaldo

        Well Verdi said in a letter that it didn’t much matter where Rigoletto was set as long as the character of the King, originally, altered to Duke, was an “absolute ruler”.
        A mafia “Dook” might be an absolute ruler I suppose, how this will work transferred to Vegas remains to be seen.

        • ianw2

          Didn’t the Good Dr Miller already do a mafioso Rigoletto, or am I imagining all of that? Is the main point of difference that this one is in Vegas?

          If ‘Rigoletto’s’ is also used as the name of a 24 hour buffet in this production I will just die.

          • ianw2

            Gah, Lindoro already answered my question. Reading comprehension fail.

            Heading back to my burrow.

          • MontyNostry

            Incidentally, if I remember rightly the good Dr Miller was pre-empted by a production somewhere in Switzerland that set Rigoletto in a mafia milieu, but his ENO show got all the attention.

    • MontyNostry

      I think it sounds like it could work very well -- especially as Vegas is such an unreal place. You could imagine that it might just be possible to hide an innocent girl away in a corner somewhere. Not sure how she’d go to church, though. Perhaps in a limo with black windows. And are there any students in Las Vegas?

      • roddanLA

        “Io sono ballerino Chippendale, e povero”

      • manou

        It is of course extremely plausible that a Mafia Don (think Marlon B) would disguise himself as a poor student to woo the only virgin in Las Vegas instead of sending one of his henchmen to just bring her over in his suite. Pronto.

        Questa o quella…

        • armerjacquino

          Why not? Bit of role play to spice things up. He’s bored with getting everything he asks for, fancies the thrill of the chase or a bit of romance. I don’t see why that shouldn’t be plausible. Besides, doesn’t that objection apply to the Duke of Mantua too?

          • manou

            As I said -- extremely plausible.

          • armerjacquino

            I need to recalibrate my sarcasmometer.

          • manou

            I was only wiggling out of justifying the fact that yes, it might also apply to the Duke of Mantua.

            I plead extreme bad faith.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

        • But the same think really could be said of an absolute ruler like a king or duke, couldn’t it? Remember, Don Giovanni misrepresents himself as well, first offering himself to Zerlina as a prospective bridegroom, and then to Donna Elvira’s maid as Leporello, or at least a Leporelloesque working class fellow.

          The idea, I think, was that seduction was a much greater pleasure than mere rape, and that the whole point of the game is that the prospective sexual partner be willing and emotionally involved. Whether this sort of thing went on in real life I can’t say, but it certainly was a common trope in literature and drama.

          • messa di voce

            “the whole point of the game is that the prospective sexual partner be willing and emotionally involved”

            Sure not going on in my real life these days.


    • grimoaldo

      “For those who have see the Miller Rigoletto,this production is nothing new, except for the glitter and neon lights of Vegas.”

      I lost track of how many times I saw that brilliant production live, from the original cast in the DVD through many different cast changes over a number of years. The “Vegas” Rigoletto would appear to be a mere variant on that theme, but we must wait and see, and as
      MontyNostry points out a Mafia Rigoletto had been done before Miller’s anyhow.
      Verdi said the King / Duke must be an “absolute ruler”. There were lots of absolute rulers still around in Verdi’s time, not so much today, although there are still a few. Instead of another Mafia Rigoletto, why not set it in Saudi Arabia or one of the Middle East monarchies where they still have absolute rulers?
      The Duke in Rigoletto is not just a rich guy with some fancy old-fashioned title, he is supposed to be the sole and absolute ruler whose will is the only law. This is part of the satirical kick, as it were, of Hugo’s original play and Verdi’s opera, depicting one of the aristocrats who ran the world as utterly selfish, brutal, a sex maniac, giving not a moment’s thought to the welfare of any of the people he governs.

  • MontyNostry

    Gualtier MakeMyDay.

  • Don_Dano

    I think Rigoletto in Vegas could work. Early next month I have a work trip to lovely Newark and am seriously considering getting a Rigoletto ticket.

  • adina

    “…some people have said if you get booed at the Met or at La Scala, you know you’re doing something right.”

    Booing ain’t what it used to be. Didn’t Verdi almost not compose again because his second opera was booed?

    • grimoaldo

      ” Didn’t Verdi almost not compose again because his second opera was booed?”

      Yes, the first night of Un Giorno di Regno was a fiasco and was withdrawn after that sole performance, although I am not sure that booing was ever specifically mentioned in the accounts of the first night, probably a mix of hisses, boos, whistling and catcalls.
      The singers’ inadequacy was a factor as much as the opera itself.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Great article and I rather like the Caddy! It’s going to look fantastic on the HD. At least now Damrau knows what it’s like in America to be locked in the trunk of a car. What a great reveal that’s gonna be for povero Rigoletto. Shouldn’t they change his name to something more rat packy? Now what four sylable name could that be?

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Meanwhile, back in the patria, Graham Vick is brewing something that looks like a hoot and a possible winner of a Ring at much less than 14 million dollars.

    • Either the orchestra is sight-reading, or else Pietari Inkinen is trying to break the Goodall record for world’s slowest RIng.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        I can’t wait for the immolation of the chairs!

        • You know? To each his own, but the whole Wall Street standing in for Walhala lost the effectiveness a while ago. At this point, in my opinion, it has becomes a cliche as big as the horned helmets.

          How about a Ring in the old west? The conquest of the old west, and the pursuit of gold would lend itself to some interesting imaginary.

          Personally, I thought the Victorian Ring was a lot more interesting than some of the images I saw in Vick’s clips. Some of it was interesting, the chairs, the Rheinmaidens as schools girls. Some of the moments with the bare stage I thought were quite beautiful. But the moment I saw all those traders, well, cliche, cliche cliche.

          Come to think about it, I think it would be interesting to try to realize a ring cycle where a theater company trying to put a Ring Cycle might be interesting. Hey, we could have Wothan as Gelb and at the end, as Brunhilde burns the machine, a Fura machine, or acrobats comes forward, as the idea for the next production, and a more successful one.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Preparing for Domingo’s Nabucodonosor

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Student of Adam Sandler:

    And this student, albeit very young, as no clue. Wish she had a real teacher.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • La Valkyrietta

    Will they take away the costumes of Tibbett and Warren and others from the display windows? Will they take away the Grand Tier restaurant and put slot machines all over the place so patrons can gamble during intermission? Will they have cocktail waitresses in scant costumes but looking like Moffo and Peters? Very peculiar. Is Cat On a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway taking place in Macau? Dear me.