Cher Public

Double digits

“Promiscuous — it’s not a pretty word. But when a matron in black underwear cavorts with two dozen naked hunks, what else can you call her? That’s one of the more striking images director Jay Scheib devised for Thomas Adès’ 1995 Powder Her Face, which this weekend jolted the New York City Opera’s brief spring season to a sizzling start.” [New York Post]

  • Camille

    “What else can you call her?”?????

    What about LUCKY, maybe?

    • shoegirl


  • Nerva Nelli

    Marketing strategy for Gay Night at POWDER HER FACE?

    • Camille

      Major relief is experienced at the news of all visitors keeping their respective shoes and socks for, as we all now must know, cold feet cause COLDS!
      Can’t one just picture a similar night here up at the Neue Gallerie? Who among the brave would dare attend? Could there be rival warring clicque factions, the Egon Schieles vs. the Gustav Klimts? The mind boggles a bit.

      Thanks for the news Mme. Nellissima. Always at the forefront.

  • havfruen

    “which sounds like Stravinsky, Ravel and Alban Berg run through a Cuisinart.” A line worthy of GBS!

  • La Valkyrietta

    I think this opera could be very sad for many who feel nostalgia for the Gaiety.

  • RobNYNY1957

    I guess the music wasn’t worth mentioning. Glad to hear about the nudity.

    • armerjacquino

      Uh-oh. Someone didn’t bother to read the whole thing.

      • Or even the comment just above his. Oh, well, some people will grasp at any opportunity to disapprove.

        For those who want a more exhaustive discussion of the music, please see JJ’s review in Musical America.

        • Camille

          La Cieca dearie—there is now a firewall around JJ’s articles in Musical America.

          What should we do to surmount it? Contact Siegfried?

          • bobsnsane

            Contact M. Croce --
            I m betting
            he knows
            some 1
            on the outskirts of Shanghai
            just off Datong Road ?
            May B ?

          • Camille

            ThanqU bobs!
            Sounds like a Chinese puzzle 2 me—
            shall wear my best jade jewels.

            Got out in the rain but did not get feet wet today =
            NO COLD

            [+ Vit C like œdipe’s Mum sez 2!!!!!]

            A HI-Q 2 U 2!!

          • louannd

            Oh Camille, just so funny. I would love to see a cartoon of Siegfried conquering a firewall on a computer.

          • bobsnsane

            It’s a puzzle rug.

  • phoenix

    from all I have read about this opera, I assume the Duchess was orally oriented -- if not, they would have changed the title to “Powder her Tusch”.

    • bobsnsane

      I thought “Powder her Face” was a line
      from Marlowe’s Duchess of Malfi…
      Agatha Christie wrote a great Ms Marple tale _
      using the same line…
      can’t recall the name *sigh*

      • ljushuvud

        “Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle: she died young”
        John Webster’s ‘Duchess of Malfi’

        • bobsnsane

          Thanks guys.

  • Camille

    Camille, getting on in years and never ONCE having attending a porn show, is tomorrow night donning her hair shirt, binding her feet, and going to see this Duchess powder her nose. I am taking La Cieca’s FAN, as seen in her Twitter account, to shield my eyes lest I faint at the sight of twenty-five jiggling, bouncing and dancing penises.

    Follow-up report to follow up.

    Or maybe I should wear one of those rubber masks?

  • OK. I’m going to take a risk, expose myself as a spoil sport, perhaps a sacrificial lamb, and most of all a party-pooper. Is it politically correct to dislike this opera? In other words, who doesn’t love a dick, right? Lesbians, maybe. Will they dare to speak up? I will leave the nitty-gritty critique to them. But this opera is pure unredeemed misogyny — and anti-sex too, when you come right down to it.

    Shouldn’t the Countess at least be played by a man? Is it really a triumph and a breakthrough to have a blowjob on the operatic stage? Is that what we’ve truly been waiting for? Will this be an audition aria?

    I’ve come to the point where I must say, the idea that opera is above all a camp is frankly loathsome and I’m sick of it. I’m tired of the tales of fellatio in standing room and cum dripping down the formal trousers of gentlemen in the Monday Night Club. It’s childish and vile. I realize I’m Daniel in the lion’s den here.

    Incidentally, the idea that this opera is “really” about class is particularly silly. All the Brits cloak their nonsense in a knee-jerk invocation of class criticism. It’s about being naughty and selling tickets under the veil of pseudo-complex music.
    Like the Ades/Lepage Tempest, it has Las Vegas written all over it.

    No doubt I (we all) will be engulfed by the posse of wild boys.

    • bassoprofundo

      I think you’ll find more people agree with you than disagree with you.

    • Camille

      I’ll be happy to tell you my thoughts after I have seen it tomorrow night, wkkbooks. And I must say that if there is ANYTHING the parterriat loves, it is a brand, new spanking sacrifical lamb, so you are MOST welcome here!!

      Myself, like Minnie, I love Dick Johnson. But I’m old, so don’t count.

      • I’m greased and ready.

        • Camille

          POWDER HER FACE:

          Due parole……………..

          Musically limp—

          Dramatically flaccid—

          In toto:

          IT SUCKED.

    • “Pseudo-complex music” sounds like pseudo-description.

    • armerjacquino

      All the Brits cloak their nonsense in a knee-jerk invocation of class criticism.

      ALL of us? Cor. I didn’t know what I used to cloak my nonsense until now. Thanks so much for telling me.

    • ianw2

      Yay! A new toy!

      Is it really a triumph and a breakthrough to have a blowjob on the operatic stage?

      That the persecution of the Duchess of Argyll hinged on a photograph of her wearing pearls performing fellatio on an unknown gentlemen friend seems to be a moot point amongst all the desecration of the temple we have going on.

      Shouldn’t Violetta be at least played by a man? I mean, GAYS.

  • Well everyone seems to get it right away, so it’s not all that complex, if complexity im[lies a second hearing is necessary, which it usually does. But it seems to be & that’s flattering to the audience. That’s my gloss on the phrase.

    Maybe I’m wrong. On rereading, I think I’m wrong to use the words ‘childish and vile’ — way to hasty, much stronger than what I feel and deliberately provocative, red flag to the bull. I would change them to ‘tired’ or ‘boring’. Meme jeu. I can be gay as (almost) anyone, but I can give it a rest.

    • So you judge the “complexity” or “psuedo-complexity”(?) of a score not by your own assessment of its compositional merits, but by what you perceive the audience reaction to be?

      Reader response theory has finally reached the shores of music criticism.

    • armerjacquino

      I am slightly disturbed by the quick jump from an opera which uses an (offstage, unseen) blow-job as a plot point to the ‘cum dripping down formal trousers’ in Standing Room. It seems a little odd to blame Ades and Hensher for the mythology of the Old Met.

      I’m not sure why this opera strikes you as misogynist, either. The story of a woman ruined by the patriarchy? A story which makes it very clear that men could have as much sex as they wanted without threat of censure, but if a woman had a lover it was a huge scandal

      • M. Croche: I’ve owned the recording for years and I dare you to still like it (if you know it at all, which is not clear) if you subject yourself to it as many times as I have. Allow me to add that a mediocre or even a deplorable opera can still have a brilliant and successful production.

        Armerjacquino: Do be slightly disturbed — I have no objection or response. In fact, you’re quite right. As the Duchess says: I am deranged. I must be deranged.

        The story might wish to make clear what you say — but it doesn’t at all. Her behavior was scandalous pure and simple, many men in Britain and elsewhere — and especially gay men, have suffered equally. To see the opera as a feminist tract is contorted. . . . “a lover”!? Everyone loves a lover. I thought the point was 88 lovers. Yes women have it rough, but is that really what’s up here? Come on. She was not ruined by “the patriarchy”, (much as the authors wish to turn the story in that direction; this is not Tess of the Durbervilles). The Duchess was ruined by her own behavior. A little personal responsibility please. Incidentally, in the libretto, the blowjob takes place on stage, altho after the Electrician/Waiter’s orgasm and the Duchess’s coughing fit the SD is, enigmatically, “(lights up)”.

        I might add that to call the blowjob “a plot point” is, unintentionally, comic. A high point perhaps, but the story construction would not crumble without it. I say “unintentionally” without wishing to be rude; I surely agree that many important, even great moments in theater are not literally plot points. In fact, on the contrary, often it’s the plot points which are problematic — talky, or fly by.

        • ianw2

          Not everything has to be an allegory of the horrible injustice of gays, unless I missed some really hidden metaphors in Aida.

          And, considering Ades is a gay man, I’m sure if he had wanted to write a gay opera at the height of his enfant terrible phrase (he was 24 when he wrote Powder, I believe), he would’ve damn well done Querelle.

      • I would not completely agree that this is a story of a woman ruined by the patriarchy any more than Don Giovanni is the story of a man ruined by statuary. Rather, it seems to me to be more about a flashy but wasted life, an enormous amount of busywork covering up for boredom and a thwarted sense of entitlement.

        But beyond that, there is a glimmer of charm and intelligence and more than just a glimmer of strength of purpose in this Duchess. All that is snuffed out by her lack of impulse control as well as the other unattractive qualities mentioned above. So there is an element of tragedy that I think Ades delineates quite well in the quieter, more serious second half of the work. Given a (vastly) different set of circumstances, this woman night have been an Alceste or an Iphigenia (or, it must be said, a Medea); it was just her terrible luck that her life ended up being about trivia instead of important things.

  • Wkk: it doesn’t matter to me whether you like Ades’ opera or not.

    I was flagging your use of the term “pseudo-complex”, which as criticism of music struck me as gobbledegook. From your first follow-up post, your point seems to be that Ades’ music is insufficiently “complex”, since you have the impression that -- deplorably -- some audience members understood the music too well the first time they heard it. This seemed both a peculiarly indirect method of judging music and a superficial yardstick (complexity vs. simplicity) by which to measure it.

    From this most recent post, I’m not any more wise to what, if anything, you originally meant by the phrase. (Yes, I’ve heard the opera a couple times, but that’s all kind of beside the point, isn’t it?)

  • Nerva Nelli

    I’ve got the ‘ossia’: