Tuesday, April 04, 2006

St. Louis-on-the-Rhine

For the record, I thought that the American Rheingold at the National Opera was a bad idea long before I heard anything about it. There is nothing in the concept, such as I understand it, that wasn't done by Patrice Chéreau and Harry Kupfer. Wotan and his divine social club were presented as nouveau riche, power hungry socialites in both the Chéreau and Kupfer cycles. Alberich is always sort of a lower-class industrialist, rising above the station the gods want for him. The milieu is different, though not really all that different, but the concept is the same. I heard an interview on NPR with Francesca Zambello, and I was somewhat bothered by her ideas. Opera should be made accessible for the kiddies? Trust me, a 17-year-old who wants to see Das Rheingold is going to go whether or not the production appeals to him. The rest of the class is too busy watching The O.C. or TRL or, I don't know, Anderson Cooper 360.

The production is being trashed on the blogosphere. Rightfully so.


At 11:19 PM, Blogger T. Ambrose Nazianzus said...

Oh yes...the part about cutting operas down to an hour or hour and half (like they do with musicals...Lord), I found offensive. The idea that the notes aren't particularly important seems to contradict Wagner in some way. I think she's giving a lecture about Das Rheingold sometime soon, so that may be worth attending.

Do you recall what your musical classes were like in high school? Did you have to take those? The best musical examples we ever covered had to do with simple jazz, or pop songs. Perhaps if we started teaching some sort of appreciation of Western culture, and western musical tradition, we wouldn't be left with creatively bankrupt directors trying to guide second-rate opera houses to some notorious bit of fame.

65 orchestral players...for Wagner. It's the season of resurrections, why don't we shoot for getting Karajan back, and let him conduct the rest of the performances...at least he might do something exciting with the orchestra...inasmuch as Karajan could be exciting.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Listen, Regietheater is a reasonable and valid approach to opera. However, going through the text with a pair of shears and a guide to famous Bayreuth productions is stupid.

Teaching people about the Western tradition will either destroy opera today or cement the ascendancy of Director's Theater.


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