So much has been written about Patrice Chéreau’s centenary production of the Ring cycle at Bayreuth that I approached reviewing it with some trepidation. I have decided to write about it “as is”; i.e. to write about what I see on the DVD and leave the undoubted historical significance, perhaps even revolutionary impact of the production, to others. Also, it’s apparent that what’s on the DVD, filmed in an empty house as was contemporary Bayreuth practice, must differ from what was seen on the Green Hill in certain key ways. This is a review of what;s seen and heard on the DVD.
Something rather extraordinary happened around here yesterday. The state of the Met produced a completely unprecedented amount of traffic. This year traffic has been running around 6000-8000 hits/month. It’s been steadily growing since I started in August 2011 but not wildly. Yesterday saw 5916 hits; most of them on the Met piece. It was 17 months before I got that many hits in a month. In less than 24 hours the piece became the most read thing I have posted eclipsing the previous “best seller” which was, oddly enough, a review of the 1992 ROH Salome with Maria Ewing. This has been steadily garnering traffic for two and a half years mostly, it appears, from people who Google variants of “maria ewing nude”. It appears that even a naked Lady Hall can’t compete with labour relations at the Met.
This is the first time I’ve posted about the current labour negotiations at the metropolitan Opera though I’ve been following the story closely. I have rather a lot of experience of contract and grievance negotiations and I think I can spot bad faith bargaining at some distance. Good faith bargaining typically occurs when both sides want to reach a settlement. The opposite when one side is more interested in ramming home some “point of principle”. This last was often a starting point on the union side in the bad old days ,especially in the UK and Australia but has become much less common. Nowadays bad faith is much more likely to come from the employer’s side, usually when they are bent on some principle like the “right” to hire and fire at will.
For the longest time the classic 1995 Glyndebourne recording of Janáček’s Věk Makropulos was the only video option. It’s now been re-released on DVD and Blu-ray in a completely remastered version. I watched the Blu-ray and it’s as well restored as the companion recording of Peter Sellars’ equally classic Theodora. As it’s drawn from a Channel 4 broadcast the picture is 4:3 and it’s presented here formatted for wide screens in what is, apparently, called “pillarbox” mode in the UK. At any event, the picture is excellent; certainly the equal of many more recent recordings, if not quite of the best HD quality. The sound, stereo only, is decent but a bit “boxed in” and the voices often seem to balanced a long way back.
The latest offering from Loose Tea Theatre is a show called AuroCorrect Operas. Basically it’s Mozart’s Bastien et Bastienne and Stravinsky’s Mavra updated for the internet age. I seem to have seen a lot of internet themed opera recently ranging from cyberbullying to screaming goats. Perhaps it’s a meme? The show runs August 21st to 24th at the Navillus Gallery on Davenport. Loose Tea’s previous effort; La tragédie de Carmen, was well worth seeing so this is probably one to see.
More details and tickets here.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the Tapestry LibLab; a structured creative collaboration between composers and librettists. Yesterday we got a preview of the results. Twelve works created in this year’s programme were given a run through by the previously announced performers plus singer/dance Eva Tavares. The works will form the basis of this year’s Tapestry Briefs show in November when they will be fully staged.
The Toronto Summer Music Festival kicked off last night with a concert by the venerable and renowned Emerson Quartet. The theme for the festival is “The Modern Age”; explained to us by the festival director as meaning the many threads and styles that emerged in the opening years of the 20th century. It might seem a bit odd then that the Emersons chose a programme of Beethoven, Britten and Schubert but in fact the rest of the programming doesn’t seem much closer to the tree with Bach, Haydn and Brahms all featured in upcoming concerts.