La Cieca (pictured) asks you to join her for a journey to a parallel universe where many of the things you see and hear will be familiar to you, whilst other details will seem so bizarre as to seem the merest raving of a lunatic. (This last role, a bit but a juicy one, will by played by your own doyenne.)
So let us imagine, then, in this similar-but-not-same place, there exists an opera house, called, oh, let us say “The Cosmopolitan Opera.” This organization is helmed by a very clever fellow (some would even call him a “freaking genius”), and this gentleman’s name is Peter Geld. Earlier this season at the Cosmopolitan, as part of his quest to bring newness and vitality to what is after all a very old art form, Mr. Geld has mothballed a fairly popular, very traditional production of an opera called Fosca. This production was directed originally by a legendary figure called, well, how about “Franco Lusinghieri?”
This staging of Fosca was replaced by a new one, rather drab, if truth be told, by another, younger director named Luc Blondie. The Blondie Fosca was booed rather loudly on opening night by the well-dressed Cosmopolitan audience, received decidedly mixed reviews, and (so one hears) doesn’t look or sound like much of anything when seen on television. (Parenthetically — thus the parentheses — the illness and subsequent cancellation of conductor Jimmy Divine has not helped matters.)
And yet Mr. Geld has loyally and tirelessly defended the quality of this staging (and, by extension, the soundness of his judgment) ever since that fateful prima.
All right then. So, while we are indulging in our little mental exercise concerning these personages and events belonging to a universe like our own, but not our own, let us peer some months into the future — to the month of September 2010, in fact, when the Cosmopolitan Opera opens its new season. Rumor (a powerful force, no matter what universe you’re in) has it that the opening night of that season will feature a shiny new staging of the opera Das Rhinestone by the avant-garde director Robert Lefolio — an ambitious production with unusually bulky and cumbersome sets.
Naturally, the opening weeks of the season will include other works, such as the popular potboiler Fosca. But what would you say, cher public, if you were to hear that in this parallel universe that is in some but by no means all ways like our own, Peter Geld is going to announce that, instead of reviving the new Blondie Fosca, he will put the old Lusinghieri production back into the repertoire?
Now, would Peter Geld really do that, do you think, cher public? And, if so, why? Could it be that the Rhinestone production is so elaborate and difficult to shift that it could work only with the simpler(?) Lusinghieri sets? Or could the whole “scene change” issue be a mere face-saving ploy for Geld’s 86ing of the (admittedly) failed Blondie Fosca?
Well, enough of this purely hypothetical mental exercise about the parallel universe. Thank goodness in our own dear universe such bizarre contretemps never occur!