Another grim narrative of the Gelb years, and one I think is generally hogwash, is that the Met has (at least in theatrical terms) lost its way entirely. Those with a little less flair for offstage drama will at least acknowledge the success of an easily agreed upon core of imported productions that, in contrast to that alchemy or perhaps origami whereby successful theater directors are meant to be folded into successful opera directors, have actually marked a period of great creative innovation in the house. Read more »
Apparently, opera fans got the bright side of the bargain: say “Macbeth” in the theater and you court cataclysm; utter the name in the opera house and, as often as not, you merely predict disappointment. Read more »
There were rumors all day in the usual places, on the search string: Philip Glass, Lincoln Center, OWS. The opera, though hypnotic, passed quickly, and Glass took a curtain call, got a hero’s welcome. Well, we thought, he can’t be both places at once. Read more »
It’s a sad story, really. Debussy and Maeterlinck had what the kids would call Major Drama over who was to sing Melisande (Mary Garden vs. the person you’ve never heard of) and so Maeterlinck didn’t see Pelleas until years after Debussy had died, so he never got to be like “word!” or, I suppose, “mot!”
Les Troyens is one of those things, or often two of those things, that should be a big event or it practically needn’t happen at all.* The keynote is grandiosity in the best way, from the subject to the musical demands (let’s include the implicit challenge of one singer performing both Cassandre and Didon—not because it happens often, but because it’s hard not to think about it simply on account of its ever having happened.)
Elektra occupies a special place in the Met’s rep, in a cheap way. It’s no easier to cast than any number of things that inspire well-rehearsed refrains of “put it away for fifty years,”* and really over the last quarter century many a somber compromise has been made in casting. What sets it apart is that folks seem willing enough to lie back and think of Mycenae while Gabriele Schnaut humps the leg of Strauss’ towering score, content to soak in the piece under any conditions.