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Rêve divin! heureux délire!

Attendees of tomorrow’s parterre meet and greet (pictured) are reminded that Our Own JJ will be available in the Bar Thalia area of Symphony Space beginning at 2:00 for ticket pickup and registration for what promises to be a truly staggering door prize to be awarded during the second intermission of Les Vêpres Siciliennes.

Stragglers will be happy to know there are still a few seats available to the HD transmission of the opera from the Royal Opera House. And if you’re not up for five hours of Verdi but happen to be in the neighborhood, do drop in either between 2:00 and 3:00 or after 8:00 pm to meet your fellow parterrians!


  • grimoaldo says:

    Dull, yes, that’s what I thought too, I have never seen or heard a dull Vespri before, every note of that glorious opera thrills me to the core, this one managed to bore the bejezzus out of me.

  • Chanterelle says:

    After attending opening night in the house I was disappointed by the screening quality. The dark sets didn’t show well on the screen and it seemed to me that there was less energy onstage. Most importantly, the magical stage transformations didn’t come across at all. Herheim played with leaps of time and place, shifting realities. But the video flattened the spatial effects and the dim lighting obscured detail and depth. Too bad Symphony Space isn’t better equipped for these screenings.

    Singing was on a par with or better (Haroutounian) than opening night. Sound was muddy, however.

    Still, I’d rather be able to see these shows in imperfect video than not see them at all. Many thanks to our hostess for bringing us together for a fun event!

    • La Cieca says:

      I got the feeling there was more going on in those dark sets than we could see on the video, so it’s interesting to have that confirmed. I also noticed that Schrott, Volle and Hymel had detailed and energetic characterizations — Hymel’s more straightforward than the two “villains,” but still very aggressive and physical — whereas Haroutounian seemed a good deal more passive and generalized, the sort of suffering diva characterization that could fit easily into a standard Vêpres staging. I can’t say whether this is because she had only a short rehearsal period or she is by nature not much of an actress. I would not think offhand that Herheim was uninterested in the character because of how he staged the Act V trio as Helene’s fantasy of culpability in the massacre — up to reducing Procida as a projection of Helene’s “dark side.”

      Oddly, the fourth act, which is the strongest act musically, seemed rather tentative dramatically, without much point of view. Again, this act is dominated by Helene, and it would be interesting to see the production done again under different and less adverse circumstances. (Also the ROH should be covered with shame at cutting the ballet, which surely in this context would have been a great deal more than mere divertissement.)

      • Chanterelle says:

        Photos on the ROH website show Poplavskaya rehearsing Les Vêpres, so I would attribute Haroutunian’s vagueness to lack of rehearsal time, though without having seen her before it’s hard to make assumptions about her acting abilities. Also, she had just come off the September revival of Frankfurt’s Les Vêpres (Jens-Daniel Herzog production), which was set in postwar Sicily, very neorealist. Herzog’s Hélène was a very tough lady in black leather, which seems a better fit for Elza van den Heever, Frankfurt’s original Hélène.

  • grimoaldo says:

    “Oddly, the fourth act, which is the strongest act musically, seemed rather tentative dramatically, without much point of view.”

    Yes, maybe I was looking at it too literally, but the fact that it was so clearly established that all of this was taking place in the Paris opera house just wiped out the drama as far as I was concerned, I didn’t get what was supposed to be going on, if Helene is in the Paris opera house she cannot be about to have her head chopped off for trying to throw the French out of Sicily, was she supposed to be a character in an opera not a “real” person?

    ” Also the ROH should be covered with shame at cutting the ballet”
    It would perhaps be more interesting to hear the inside story of why the choreographer Johan Kobborg, the Royal Ballet, the Royal Ballet School and the Royal Danish ballet, which had been announced as participating, all walked out of the production, than watching the finished product was.

    • Camille says:

      There was an entire telenovela about the Ballet’s departure back at the time it happened, as I recall reading something about it all on these pages by Those In The Know, but don’t remember any specific details any more. ‘Twould be interesting to hear the tale again, and if this specific figuring of the ballet dancers in the overture came about as a result of the lack thereof, or if, indeed, it had been originally intended by Herr Herheim.

    • La Cieca says:

      Yes, you are looking at it too literally.

      • grimoaldo says:

        I didn’t understand it, I’m just dumb I guess, I still sort of wonder, what were they doing? what was going on? why was she about to be decapitated?
        never mind, it’s not important I suppose.