For me, the third act of La Bohème is the most important. Mimì, desperate to understand why her relationship is disintegrating, ventures to the outskirts of Paris to speak with Marcello. She wants to understand why her lover Rodolfo abandons her, turns from her, and accuses her of infidelity. When Rodolfo appears to speak with Marcello, she hides herself, and listens from a short distance. Rodolfo tells his friend that the real reason he wants to leave Mimì is because she’s sick, and he is poor; he doesn’t have the resources he needs to take care of her. He cannot bear to see her suffering, and not help.
In his fascinating book Domination and the Arts of Resistance, political scientist James C. Scott discusses what he calls the “infrapolitics of subordinate groups.” He defines this as “a wide variety of low-profile forms of resistance that dare not speak in their own name.” Infrapolitics is activism that happens offstage, beyond the scope of official observation—acts in the dark that seek to remain in the dark, though their ramifications extend outward into the public sphere. There is a bit of lawlessness to this work, a black market for the “unobtrusive realm of political struggle,” where trickery, deception, and defiance flare out “like infrared rays, beyond the visible end of the spectrum.” Read more »
It’s easy to see why Leonard Bernstein’s Candide was a flop when it premiered on Broadway. A quick look through Voltaire’s source material reveals a plot full of obscenity and atrocity: floggings, hangings, disembowelment, rape, dismemberment, impalement, bestiality, cannibalism, heresy, and sex trafficking. Such a catalogue of depravity suggests an adaptation of Pasolini rather than a Broadway musical. Read more »
The Met ushers out this wretched year and rings in the new with an elegant and effective new production of Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
Blood-and-guts singing is the reason to see Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera this season.
I can think of no other role that provides the most unique promise of humiliation, and consequently the most opportunity for glory.
Much like Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which launched the Met’s 2016-2017 season, Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin is an opera about love and death.
Anna Netrebko‘s Manon was deeply unforgettable for its wide scope, control, and incredible virtuosity.