“Reading the texts…I found to my fear and horror, words that killed, words that told every time of women’s undoing.” So wrote feminist critic Catherine Clément in her controversial 1979 study Opera: The Undoing of Women. Though the focus of her work was on classic operas like Madama Butterfly and Lucia di Lammermoor, her thesis, that violent mistreatment of women is central to opera, was confirmed last weekend when Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now presented new works in which women were variously gang-raped, eviscerated and executed by firing squad. [Observer]
A colleague’s review of the Met’s Roméo et Juliette has reminded me that one thing that is killing opera is the practice of critics’ comparing the singers they heard last night to dead or retired artists they either remember for their distant youth or else on record decades ago.
“So intensely theatrical—to the point of seeming utterly stylized—were these performances that they might have sprung from a high-concept production of this Shakespeare adaptation in which Gounod’s perfumed melodies depicted a case of histrionic personality disorder a deux.” [Observer]
“And what, after all, is this ‘love’ everyone keeps singing about and dying for?”
New York City Opera Renaissance’s Tosca “was opera at its most retrograde, an effort to recreate a golden age from a handful of tinsel.”
Fellow parterrians, my review in the Observer of this year’s PROTOTYPE festival does not appear until Wednesday.
“Puccini’s Tosca is what is known in the trade as a ‘bread and butter’ opera.”
There’s hands-on and then there’s hands-on, and the latter was definitely in play in the lobby of the Kaye Playhouse just before Thursday night’s performance of La traviata by the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance program.