A co-production between the COC and Opéra de Lyon has just opened in France. It’s Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail with rewritten dialogues by Lebanese-Canadian-French playwright Wajdi Mouawad, who also directs. It can be watched online here. It’s geoblocked but you can use something like Tunnel Bear to watch it. There’s a very complete analysis of the production by Lydia Perovic over on her blog.
I watched the first hour or so; all I could manage on my Tunnel Bear data allocation, and I think Lydia is on the money. I strongly suspect this will feature in the COC 2017/18 season, if only for want of good Mozart alternatives given past patterns. How it will go down I don’t know. In some ways it takes quite a lot of liberties with the dialogue, in others it’s oddly conventional and there are enough wigs and crinolines to satisfy that crowd. In some ways of course it’s the trickiest of operas for our time; the relationship between the “west” and “Islam” being what it is (whatever that actually is). In other ways it’s such a lightweight piece that there’s only so much freight it can carry and Mouawad, while somewhat didactic, doesn’t seem to be pushing his ideas too hard. I also wonder whether Entführung is an opera people care about (or know well enough) to get upset about. It’s always struck me as curious that quite modest directorial interventions in La Traviata or Don Giovanni kick up quite a storm in certain quarters but apparently one can do what one likes to, for example, Handel (as long as there are wigs and pretty dresses).
We shall see.