Headshot of La Cieca

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Counterpoint

Maesto Lorin Maazel (pictured) responds to La Cieca.

30 comments

  • cosmodimontevergine says:

    The picture looks like Clint Eastwood at the Republican Convention (complete with empty chair.)

  • redbear says:

    I guess that Maestro Maazel cannot now be labled as hating all innovative productions, but just the one’s he doesn’t like. There are good directors working and bad ones. For me, Fura dels Baus did one of my top worst (Magic Flute) and one of the most astonishingly inspired (Grand Macabre).
    The introduction of innovative directors to the opera stage has been one of the most significant events in post-war opera. It has revitalized opera houses, attracted young audiences and created dialogue. We have discovered, with creative staging, works of Handel and scads of others who were never likely to see a staging.
    If you object to a production, it is good to talk about it. It could very well have been an artistic failure. Other people might have a different opinion and an active dialogue would be positive and helpful. But broad brush condemnation of what is a serious artistic expressions is just lazy noise.

    • ianw2 says:

      Oh, come now. It’s much more fun to heap blame on the amorphous blob of Dastardly Directors for having the temerity to present a work as anything other than a museum or nostalgia piece (be it in period dress or otherwise).

      • laddie says:

        Sing along, now…

        • Batty Masetto says:

          Lotsa fun, and I wouldn’t feel at all cheated to have seen it in the house, but it still can’t hold a candle to this much-posted delirium:

          (Which, incidentally, the composer could never have even imagined, still less intended.)

    • la vociaccia says:

      He lists the Zeffirelli Turandot as one of the “innovative” productions he participated in. Okay…

      • m. croche says:

        Well, he wrote “ground-breaking”, which in the case of Zef’s overloaded Turandot might literally be true.

      • Porgy Amor says:

        The Miller FANCIULLA was the one that made me blink a couple times. I’ll just say that if that was innovative, groundbreaking, or even good, it does not come through on the video release. It shares the bottom rung of FANCIULLA DVDs with Voigt’s (for different reasons; the Met’s has a better production).

        • Porgy Amor says:

          Now, one very bold, great, and powerful production with which Maazel was associated was Carsen’s Fenice TRAVIATA. I hope its omission from his list is not significant.

    • antikitschychick says:

      “If you object to a production, it is good to talk about it. It could very well have been an artistic failure. Other people might have a different opinion and an active dialogue would be positive and helpful. But broad brush condemnation of what is a serious artistic expressions is just lazy noise.”

      THIS^^^ I totally agree with you redbear. Ranting and raving about productions isn’t going to solve the problem of contextualization in Opera; an open dialogue/discussion between Opera aficionados, contemporary composers, directors and various other intellectuals on the other hand would be much more helpful. But Mazel is essentially damning certain specific features/elements of some productions without properly contextualizing them or fully explaining, from his point of view, why or how these “horrific trappings” as he calls them demean opera. (Saying that certain directors “disrespect genius of both librettist and composer” is just fallaciously putting the so-called librettists and composers on some imaginary pedestal that separates them from our contemporary world-society and therefore collective consciousness).

      I get that he is frustrated and as someone who has dedicated his life to Opera and classical music he has a right to voice his opinion but dealing with absolutes is a sure way to end a discussion before it even commences.

      Stating opinions as facts isn’t going to eradicate anything; first questions need to be asked and answered, even if they cannot be answered, what’s important is the process between question-answer-action-reaction because this is what exposes pre-suppositions and biases within the questions themselves; ranting and raving only serve to mask and therefore entrench traditionalist views imho.

      • kennedet says:

        Judging productions traditional versus modern obviously should be determined on its own merits.This is not a new discussion, whether debated by an esteemed maestro or anyone else.
        However, my problem is with ageism. The word old has too many negative responses and that is what needs to be addressed. Unless it’s dementia, maybe we seniors have something important to say.For those who have issues with ageing I always tell them that they can choose the alternative and die young.

        • m. croche says:

          Compromise! Instead of describing Maazel’s posts as the rants of a codger, we can more affirmatively describe them as a “High Solonic”.

        • antikitschychick says:

          I agree that ageism is a problem and its discriminatory to reduce Mazel’s opinions to the rantings of a demented old dude…but I didn’t mention age in my post and I apologize if I gave the impression that I don’t agree with him cuz…he be ‘old’ lol that wasn’t my intention. His views are, I would say traditionalist, and although traditionalism and ‘old age’ aren’t mutually exclusive, one need not equate one with the other.

          Furthermore, this type of ranting has been exhibited by young and old alike (just look at Piotr Bezcala’s statements about his little black book nonsense…srsly, he should just get a book deal and publish it as “The diary of an Mad Opera Tenor” and vent that way LOL).

          But seriously, the reason why this discussion doesn’t seem new is because the /approach/ that both Mazel and Bezcala have adopted is the one that has dominated the discussion, and the one that draws the most attention because lets face it, a good rant is good press :-P Also, I was only-half joking about my book suggestion because this is a subject that requires a more in-depth examination than a silly PR interview and couple of Facebook posts. This is why I appreciate artists like Daniel Barenboim and JDD so much….when they have something important to say about an important/polemical subject, they don’t just go and write a 5 sentence Facebook post or a 250 word tweet…they write well-thought articles and blog entries that allows them to fully develop/contextualize their ideas. I know not everyone can or even wants to be that articulate but it doesn’t hurt to try. Just sayin.

          • kennedet says:

            Antikitschychick, I want to make it patently clear that my opinions were not a ressult of your posts.Thanks for your sensitivity.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            It’s interesting that you mention Barenboim – himself no spring chicken at 70+, yet a seasoned and presumably supportive participant in nontraditional productions, both marvelous (Kupfer’s Ring & Parsifal, Chéreau’s Tristan) and not so much (the La Scala Ring).

  • Sempre liberal says:

    Cieca, did you get served?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_qShAZg2Zw

    It’s on!

  • Sempre liberal says:

  • m. croche says:

    Did anybody ever see that peculiar film Maazel made decades ago where he “lampooned” conductors? I only remember a couple of sequences from it -- Maazel sitting immobile in stone-faced contemplation of a bust of Beethoven, while a fly hovered around his face; a performance of the last movement of Chaikovsky’s Pathetique where buckets of sweat drip from every inch of his body. The film was just about as much fun as it sounds…

  • manou says:

    Maestoso Lorin Maazel (pickled) responds to La Sedia.

  • Signor Bruschino says:

    I’m just still so annoyed / pissed off / disgusted by Maazel mostly to this comment in his diatribe: “if you read that a new production at your favorite opera house will be given of La Boheme set in a Nepalese fish market with the Sex Pistols in the orchestra pit conducted by Sarah Palin, don’t go.”

    I will ignore the Sarah Palin as a conductor analogy, but throwing in the Sex Pistols as a negative in his argument makes him even more of a crusty elitist. While I’m not a punk fan, I do know that the Sex Pistols were innovators in their field, and I think musicians should respect innovators throughout the various and different fields of music- this is not an argument for cross-over in the opera house (that is a completely different debate) but by using them in his ‘don’t go’ argument, he is saying they are not up to his great classical standards, which is just sad… and considering the Sex Pistols haven’t been active since 1978, we aren’t going to see them in the orchestra pit at all (so he is also culturally and historically ignorant)…

    Now if he ends up hiring Sarah Palin to conduct at Castleton, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least…

    • antikitschychick says:

      and as a woman, I am tired of the Sarah Palin digs as well. She had no business getting into politics and running for the vice presidency, we get it, but continuing to bring her up only perpetuates her status as a cultural juggernaut…and that is NOT OK, just as it was not ok that ‘feminists’ were telling her to “go home and take care of her down syndrome bb.” That was just ott snobbery.

      Also, I agree with you about the Sex Pistols.

      • kashania says:

        There’s only one reason why Sarah Palin’s name stays on people lips: she works hard to keep her name in the headlines. Her habit of self-promotion, coupled with her profound stupidity, makes her a justifiable target for anyone looking for a punch line.

        • antikitschychick says:

          Yes but the joke is on us if we continue to giver her the attention she craves…for ppl like her any publicity is good publicity and every time her name is mentioned its like the women’s movement for rights/power in politics takes 3 steps back. Its hubris of the worst kind imho.

  • Gualtier M says:

    Can I reiterate a point I have made in the past when this subject comes up? There are good traditional productions that keep the story in the period but dig into the characters and relationships in a fresh unhackneyed way -- by questioning the standard thinking and going back to primary sources. Then there are tired traditional production which traffic in the same clichés and tired assumptions and standard bits that have circulated over a century.

    There are operas that benefit from traditional stagings -- Tosca, Falstaff etc. and others that benefit from modern regie -- Zauberflaute, Moses und Aron, Wozzeck, Le Grand Macabre. One size does not fit all. Frankly, I have loved many of the regie productions of baroque operas I have seen because they really revitalize the dramaturgy and are often downright fun. I would hate to see a traditional staging of a Handel opera -- I would fall asleep as I often did when I saw the old John Copley “Giulio Cesare” production at the Met. The McVicar is way more fun. The musical text of the current Met production is longer but the evening feels shorter.

    There is a lot of bad regie going around right now. Also current regie traffics its own clichés right now. I remember one critic making a laundry list of current directorial tropes that are tired -- trench coats, characters shooting up, writhing on the floor for no reason etc. Many of the directors in Europe are imitating their elders and betters.

    The question is one of style -- which style do you prefer? I have preferences for certain operas and styles -- but I call bullshit when I see it. If I see a static period costume parade with little dramatic insight and the singers left to do their own thing -- I call it bullshit. I see a whole bunch of “look at me” and adolescent “épater le bourgeouis” cheap shock tactic perpetrated to shock the audience or be different -- I call it bullshit.

    I see an opera production that uses the music and text to dig into the core truth of a work and create real gripping characters and dramatic tensions that work organically with the text -- then I call it a success. It can stay in period or change stuff but I call it a success. For example, the reviled here Jonathan Miller staged a “Traviata” in Glyndebourne (Marie McLaughlin on dvd) that was on the surface traditional but didn’t play that way. He brought out the sordid, unromantic louche and grim underside of the demi-monde and tuberculosis. Blood on Violetta’s pillow in Act IV that Annina was too scared to touch. Dirty old men in the Act III Spanish dance ogling underage adolescent ballerinas like predatory animals, etc. A big clock over the sets that showed time ticking away Violetta’s life.

    Then there the Willy Decker production seen at Salzburg and the Met and elsewhere. Also a big clock but very expressionistic. Decker changes stage directions -- he has Violetta and Alfredo together for “Dei miei bollenti spiriti” and keeps Violetta onstage for Annina’s comment about selling Violetta’s possessions for money. Okay changes the actual text here. But he creates a scene where Alfredo and Violetta are together and happy as a couple before the complications and Germont split them up. It actually ups the emotional stakes for everything that occurs later.

    Both productions dig under the surface and ask the singers to reevaluate the usual take on the character. Both tell the story in a compelling way. Both are good. One is traditional and the other regie.

    • Gualtier M says:

      A few quick points -- in the eighteenth century and nineteenth centuries operas were staged in the current theatrical style. All baroque operas were staged in modern dress with perhaps some period touches added -- a peruke with a laurel wreath in it for a work set in ancient Greece. Or a bodice and hoopskirt with a tiger skin sash for Hippolyta.

      Same goes in the nineteenth century -- almost all prima donnas wore current evening gowns slightly altered to suggest period gowns. I have seen pictures of Normas in corset and crinoline with a Greek key pattern on the hem and waistline. Hair done up in a bun or ringlets. So everything was done in the current theatrical style.

      The difference is that in those earlier centuries the operas were usually new or contemporary and worked with the staging.