Ken Russell’s 1985 production of Gounod’s Faust at the Wiener Staatsoper makes an uneven and somewhat unsatisfying DVD. The music making is fine, sometimes very fine, and the production has some very interesting and effective scenes but the overall concept doesn’t quite work. Add to that quirky video direction and a picture quality that’s not good even by 1985 standards and the package as a whole just doesn’t quite make it. It’s a shame as this is more interesting than most opera productions of the period. Continue reading
Rossini’s La Cenerentola takes almost three hours to tell a very straightforward version of the Cinderella story. Generally directors, despairing of the this, either camp it up (for example the Els Comediants production seen, inter alia, in Houston and Toronto in recent years) or they try to find a few more layers of meaning as in Ponnelle’s film version. Michael Hampe does neither in his 1988 Salzburg production, preferring to tell the story as a straightforward morality tale. I guess if one really loves the music and it’s really well sung this could work but, ultimately, I found it rather dull. Continue reading
There’s been a fair amount of discussion of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s film version of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito over at The Earworm so I thought it would be a good time to dig out his La Scala production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. They have a lot in common; an obsession with statuary and heavy focus on verticality that makes the picture often seem taller than it is wide are just two. The Rossini, despite being filmed at La Scala is very filmic. It’s much more like a movie than a video recording of a staged performance. Continue reading
It seems to be “looking back at older Metropolitan Opera productions” week here in the blogosphere. Over at The Earworm there’s a series of posts on a 1980 production of Don Carlos. Our subject will be the 1991 Die Zauberflöte.
The production was designed by David Hockney and the look varies from the whimsical; the opening scene, to the grandiose; the final scene, with bits of Egyptiana in between. It’s very handsome. The direction is described as “original direction” by John Cox and “direction” by Guus Mostart. I’m not entirely sure what this means as there doesn’t really seem to be a production concept and the Personeregie is pretty basic. Basically it looks like acting is considered to be an optional extra. Some of the singers are good actors and some don’t even try. There’s no consistency. The impression is that the “production” is just a backdrop for the singers to do their thing. Continue reading