Daniele Abbado’s production of Verdi’s Nabucco, recorded at Covent Garden in 2013 was the vehicle for Placido Domingo taking on yet another Verdi baritone role. It’s set in the 1940’s because, Jews. At least it’s costumed that way because nothing else about the production has any kind of sense of time or place. It’s virtually monochrome and quite abstract. The Temple is represented by a set of upright rectangular blocks which are toppled at the appropriate moment. The idol of Baal is a sort of wire frame that comes apart rather undramatically and so on. There’s also nothing in the direction to suggest any kind of concept. It’s quite straightforward with rather a lot of “park and bark”. There’s some use of video projections behind and above the action but it’s rather hard to figure them out on video as they tend to appear in shot rather fleetingly.
What’s become of David McVicar? His 2015 production of Giodarno’s Andrea Chénier for the Royal Opera House seems typical of his recent work. It looks expensive. It features a starry cast. He flirts with dramatic risk but in the last analysis it comes off as a bit tame and even sloppy. Basically when the principals are at the centre of the drama it’s compelling stuff but when they are not it’s not and there are curious inconsistencies.
Bloor Hot Docs, after something of a hiatus, is showing three Royal Opera House productions in December. Here’s the schedule:
Saturday, December 3, 12:00 PM Norma (directed by La Fura dels Baus’ Alex Olle) with Sonya Yoncheva in the title role. It was described as “striking and perverse” by The Guardian. Sonia Ganassi is Adalgisa with Joseph Calleja as Pollione. Antonio Pappano conducts. More info.
Saturday, December 10, 11:00 AM Cosi fan tutte directed by Jan Phillip Gloger, conducted by Semyon Bychkov. With Angela Brower (Dorabella), Corinne Winters (Fiordiligi), Daniel Behle (Ferrando), Alessio Arduini (Guiglielmo) Looks like an updated “theatre in theatre” production. More info.
So further to my rant the other day about the ROH and ENO approach to their cinema broadcasts in Canada and the Met’s lock up with Cineplex Odious…
Suppose one were responsible for marketing the Royal Opera or ENO’s product in Canada what would you do? Personally I wouldn’t worry about signing up loads of suburban and small town fleapits. I’d go for the where the opera audience is in the downtown areas of the cities that have opera companies and maybe university towns. I’d also go for the upscale theatres with decent sound and bars with decent beer and that sort of thing. In Toronto that would be the TIFF Lightbox and Bloor Hot Docs. Elsewhere I don’t know but I’d like to push the idea with the ROH marketing folks so any ideas on the “right” cinemas in Montreal or Vancouver or even Hamilton would be most welcome.
I have now received the cinemaHD line ups from the Royal Opera House and the ENO. Basically if you live in Canada you are probably screwed. The baleful effects of the Met’s exclusive with Cineplex Odious are all too apparent. If one compares the ROH ballet line up with opera it’s clear. Whereas you can catch the ballet in just about every major population centre, the opera coverage is, at best, spotty. There’s nothing at all in Quebec and Ontario is represented by four screens in Waterloo, Kingston, Whitby and Orleans. It’s not much better elsewhere. And ENO apparently hasn’t figured out that Canada exists which sucks because I really want to see my favourite crazy lady’s Queen of the Night.
I really wonder about the Met’s motivation. They talk a great game about extending the audience for opera but then put barriers in the way of anything except their own rather boring product. I also wonder why on earth Cineplex agreed to an exclusive. When you pretty much have a monopoly you don’t need to take that shit from the Met. Without Cineplex they are screwed too. So it goes.
In the booklet accompanying David McVicar’s production of Le nozze di Figaro, recorded at the Royal Opera house in 2006, there’s an essay by the director in which he raises all kinds of questions about the rise of the bourgeoisie, the nature of revolution and romantic conceptions of love. He even appears to draw a parallel between Joseph II and Tony Blair. Then he declines to explain how he has embodied all these ideas on the stage and challenges us to “Watch, listen, participate”. Well I did and I’m none the wiser. What I see her is an essentially traditional approach; transferred cosmetically to 1830s France but so what? It’s darker than some Figaro’s but not nearly as dark as, say, Guth. Curiously, the main “extra” on the disks “Stage directions encoded in the music” tees this up much more clearly than the essay.