Cher Public

The year in Dawn

For my 2014 retrospective, I’ve chosen two shows from the past year that are returning in 2015 and that really shouldn’t be missed by NY-based-and-visiting parterriani.

An Octoroon. This was the best show I saw in 2014 and I’m really glad it’s returning for another run. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has taken a seemingly unrevivable melodrama from 1861 by Dion Boucicault called The Octoroon and made it the basis of a stunning play. This work digs through the artifice, coincidences, vicious stereotypes, plot contrivances and mustache-twirling to find genuine pain, heartbreak, and unhealed racial wounds.

The author and director, Sarah Benson, have some special surprises in store for those audience members who think the only way to appreciate a melodrama is to snark at it.

I wish a creative team would apply a similar approach for Il Trovatore and show the racial suffering and abuse that make Azucena’s hysteria more than just an easy target for know-it-all directors. While we’re at it, I wish a golem in the form of Joseph Kerman would smite any critic that insists that the plot of Il Trovatore is claptrap.

Fun Home. Composer Jeanine Tesori’s career has generated lots of fodder for the pedants who like to draw bright lines between musicals and operas. This piece is, I believe, her best work, whichever genre you want to slot it into. The work, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel packs an operatic emotional wallop, and even has a mad scene!

Tesori and her gifted librettist/lyricist Lisa Kron deal with the discovery of one’s sexuality with creativity and insight. The piece is smart without being clever and devastating without being cloying, that is to say it is the antithesis of whatever Jeremy Sams is likely to inflict on The Merry Widow. This will cleanse you of all that slimy residue.

As far as the Met was concerned my highlight of the current season was arguing with anti-Klinghoffer protesters outside Lincoln Center.

  • messa di voce

    Kay Francis got top billing over Errol Flynn? Interesting.

  • pasavant

    Kay Francis got top billing over everyone! She was the queen of Warner Brothers. Watch her in Parmount’s Trouble in Paradise, and you will see why she was such a big star. No one wore clothes better than she did.

  • manou

    Do not forget to read the very small print at the bottom of the poster…

    • Camille

      “Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold”??

      Or--“A Warner Bros. Picture”??

      Just doing my eyecheck for driver’s license.

      Sounds like it would have been a lot of fun to argue with the Anti-Klinghoffer crowd. On the night M. Camille went, next to last performance, it was down to a dull roar but still happening, somewhat.

  • RosinaLeckermaul

    I totally agree on your recommendations. AN OCTOROON will have to be restaged some for the Polonsky Shakespeare Theatre, but it is one of the best things I saw in 2014. It will be interesting to see how the superb FUN HOME fits into the awful Circle in the Square.

  • The Conte

    Having listened to excerpts on YouTube, I’m warming to Fun House. It seems it could be the type of thing that would transfer internationally, so may make it to London. Or is that wishful thinking?

  • La Valkyrietta

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Happy new Year to La Cieca and all bloggers. Any predictions what’s going to be the operatic event of the year 2015?

    • Tory Adore

      Carmen in Oslo-
      “…Calixto Bieto’s racy and somewhat controversial production of the popular opera, which is famous for a fellatio scene that takes place behind a car and poor Zuniga getting kicked to death, only to be pissed on as he lay dying.”

      • Perhasp as a New Year’s game we could list all the fellation scenes we’ve witnessed in various productions, and tot them up. I give you Andrea Breth’s Brussels productyion of Traviata, of which I wrote, in part:

        Act three. Another wet night in the container park. Annina, still in her black dress, is on her knees giving Grenvil a blow job between containers -- his fee perhaps. She wipes her mouth with a tissue. A drugged prostitute in mac and stilettos lies flat out in the doorway to another container on the left (later she will wake to prepare and shoot crack). Violetta is asleep under a pile of polythene sheeting. Etc, etc. Audience yawns.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Happy New Year to All

    • La Valkyrietta

    • antikitschychick

      Happy new year indeed <3.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Luna De Vol and her colleagues in this video put to shame every opera singer who just doesn’t care enough to properly prepare and memorize their music for live performances of opera and operetta.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Sorry for the typo Luana!

      • Buster

        Netrebko was flirting more with the score than with Florez. Those “sexy” looks into her music were hilarious.

      • armerjacquino

        Yep. When singers use a score in a concert, it’s because they don’t care.

        Dear god.

    • bronzino

      thx, qpf, for an Elektra performance that we had never heard before (E is my very favourite opera on this planet and we just can’t get enough of it). However, we only got to 31.00 before we did a double/triple take and had to rewind and then rewind again to see if we were really hearing what we were hearing--wow! We have NEVER heard such a massive cut in Elekra’s response to K’s dream sequence. We always look forward to E’s response where she just goes on and on and on detailing the hunt of the executioner to the prey (K)--endless torment that is savoured with such delectability! But here--none of it! Not a feast of imagined revenge, not even much of an amuse buche! We are shocked! Shocked! We recognize that this is a live performance and E’s Response is supremely taxing and even some of the best recorded versions have a few cuts in Es lines, but this hacking is beyond imagining! Has anyone one else witnessed such cuts in this opera and still managed to stagger out of the theatre with any semblance of decorum?

      We are going to lie down to try to compose ourselves…

  • Cicciabella

    A Happy New Year to the entire Parterriat!

    It seems that Joseph Calleja is no longer with the lovely Victoria Meli. The woman in his Facebook family portraits seems to be this equally lovely portraitist: His FB friends will be able to confirm or refute.