Is it all?

Anna Theodosakis’ production of Britten’s Rape of Lucretia for MYOpera updates the piece from proto-historical Rome to somewhere in the mid 20th century which is fine but doesn’t seem, of itself, to add any layers of meaning to the narrative.  There are neat visual touches in a simple but effective set design and the nature of and relationships between the characters are deftly drawn.  The rape scene manages to be disturbing without being gratuitously graphic.  It’s skilful theatre.  But is that enough?

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The Devil it is

Boito’s Mefistofele is a rather odd work.  It’s truer to the original Goethe than other operatic versions of the Faust legend which means it’s very episodic and focuses on the Faust/Mefistofele relationship rather than on Margherita.  In fact she’s dead with an act and an epilogue still to go.  It’s hard to categorize musically too.  Some parts are rather bombastic, vulgar even, yet at other times we seem to be drifting into bel canto territory.  So it’s a bit uneven; listenable enough but not very memorable.

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Dessay is a spectacular Zerbinetta

A recording featuring Deb Voigt and Natalie Dessay, both high on my list of singers I’d like to party with, obviously has to be seen.  They feature in a 2003 recording of Ariadne auf Naxos from the Met.  It’s a Moshinsky production, directed for this run by Laurie Feldman.  It’s pretty traditional in most respects though there are some interesting touches in the second act.  We are squarely in the house of the richest man in Vienna c. 1750.  No Konzept here.  In fact, the first act is traditional too in that the acting is broad, going on coarse grained.  Dessay brings a touch of distinction, managing to effectively portray the more vulnerable side of Zerbinetta.  Voigt too is very fine, and very much with the overall mood, as a completely over the top stroppy diva.  She’s definitely playing for laughs.  Susanne Mentzner’s Composer and Wolgang Brendel’s Music Master are both quite competent but suffer a bit from the pantomime acting the director appears to want.

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