Peter Hall RIP

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John F
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
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Re: Peter Hall RIP

Post by John F » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:09 pm

When Georg Solti agreed to conduct the Ring cycle at Bayreuth, he chose Peter Hall as the stage director, based on their collaboration at Covent Garden. Perhaps the most important of these was the British premiere of Schoenberg's "Moses und Aron"; among other features was the use of striptease dancers from Soho as the naked virgins in the golden calf orgy. Hall's big idea for the Ring was to have the singers of the Rhine maidens swimming naked in real water; with a huge pool built into the stage and a huge angled mirror above it, they appeared to be swimming up and down, instead of just back and forth.


You can imagine that the auditions for these three roles were rather different from the usual opera house practice! As for the set, not only was it enormously expensive but it handicapped the scenery for the other three scenes and indeed the other three operas. Still, I would have liked to see it, but unlike the previous Boulez/Chéreau production, this one was not filmed. One reason for that may have been that the reviews of the production were all bad; another, that instead of returning to refine and improve on their first year's work, as was always done at Bayreuth, Solti and Hall quit, leaving their show in the hands of conductor Peter Schneider, a routinier, and an unnamed assistant of Peter Hall's. The production was taken off after only four summers.

Back in the friendlier environs of Covent Garden, Hall directed a production of Strauss's "Salome" with his wife Maria Ewing miscast in the title role. Vocally miscast, that is; she certainly looked the part of the teenage princess, especially after shedding the last veil and standing naked before the public.

If this sounds like a recurring motif of Peter Hall's productions, showing naked women on the stage, I should say that none of these operas was typical repertoire for him, and the Hall productions of plays that I saw were pretty straightforward; lennygoran would have liked them. :) And he had the reputation of working well with actors, getting the best from them. Less so in opera, but as I said, we saw only a couple of Hall's opera productions at the Met and they were soon replaced.

P.S. Now I remember: in "Macbeth," Hall retained the ballet music Verdi added for the Paris production, and had us laughing when he provided witches flying about on broomsticks like the wicked witch in "The Wizard of Oz." Also, there appeared a dancer as Hecate, though the Hecate scene in Shakespeare's play is a later addition by another writer, and yes, she was all but naked, though for the benefit of puritannical Americans she was wearing a g string. :roll:
John Francis

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