I always think of Don Giovanni as half of the greatest opera ever written. Or, actually, about 2/3 of the greatest opera ever written. The first act is a masterpiece of the operatic canon. There’s sex, there’s danger, there’s suspense, there’s humor, and there’s absolutely great music. And there’s also a wonderful sense of ambiguity—for instance, what exactly is Don Giovanni doing in Donna Anna’s bedroom? is it a rape, or something else? Is Zerlina really just a naive young thing? “Batti batti bel Masetto” has such an artificial, coy feel to it that you have your doubts. All of these events converge in the suspenseful Act One finale. Read more »
One of my favorite terms to use to describe productions nowadays is “regie lite.” Regie lite productions dominate Glyndebourne, Salzburg, and increasingly, the Metropolitan Opera. Traditional stage directions are tweaked, periods are reset, but not in a way that radically deconstructs the work. If hardcore “regie” directors do a Michael Jackson total-deconstruction makeover on the opera, regie lite productions do a, well, Nancy Pelosi botox session. After viewing a new DVD of Stefan Herheim’s production of Rusalka, I’ve got a new category: “regie slick.” Read more »
One of the things that made François Girard’s 2013 production of Parsifal at the Met so compelling was the way he tried to make the tale of suffering and temptation relevant to a contemporary audience. The French-Canadian director set the looming devastation of Montsalvat in a bleak, desiccated landscape populated by characters in modern dress who emerged from behind a mirrored curtain that reflected the auditorium. Stylized gestures and dramatic lighting evoked an abstract reality that heightened one’s awareness of the way nature and society work. Read more »
The appeal of Ariadne auf Naxos (for me anyway) is the acknowledgment that underneath it all, opera (and all other forms of “high art”) is really show business.
None of my previous Elektra experiences prepared me for this stunning, overwhelming performance from the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
A good performance of a Rossini opera buffa usually bubbles along merrily.
After a long summer drought, suddenly new Blu-ray and DVD releases are falling, as it were, from the sky.
It’s rare to encounter a video of an opera that has zero redeeming qualities, but I think I might have found it: the latest Arena di Verona La Traviata.
For those of you still queasy after Mary Zimmerman’s sophomoric snarknado attack on Bellini’s La Sonnambula, the new DVD of the Stuttgart Opera production should provide a bracing restorative.
The Salzburg Festival has long had the image of this place where for a little over a month, the very best singers are brought together with the very best conductors and the very best directors to create the very best productions the opera world has to offer.