"Orlando" at City Opera

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Ralph
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"Orlando" at City Opera

Post by Ralph » Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:57 am

Yesterday I heard Handel's "Orlando" at the New York City Opera. It's not a favorite of mine but the production, with some young singers, was well done. This was a minimalist staging with eclectic clothes and props ranging from gowns that might recall Handel's time to metal framed beds and old suitcases.

An enjoyable afternoon, not much more.

FrankAderholdt
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Post by FrankAderholdt » Sat Apr 09, 2005 2:32 pm

I adore Handel's operas but have never seen and heard one live. I would prefer to see a traditional staging, the more lavish and over-the-top the better. Most of the libretti are outrageously campy, so why not the visual side as well?
"Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise." -- Martin Luther (1483-1546)

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Post by Guest » Sun Apr 10, 2005 2:27 am

Frank, in my experience it's the "modern" productions that camp it up, and some of them do a very good job indeed. The following is from my review - no longer visible on this site! - of David McVicar's Brussels/Paris production of Agripppina, which is visually quite sumptuous:

The potential for staging this tale of political scheming, corruption and power play like Dynasty is there in the libretto, snide asides and all. Agrippina is the Joan Collins of the show, a tall, dark, glamorous, sexy, rich bitch in little black dress and five-inch heels, a glass of champagne constantly to hand. She'll stop at nothing to get her son, Nerone, on the throne - but whatever dirty business she's up to is carried off with a swagger and a smile. Nerone, a breeches role, is a Di-Caprio-lookalike spoilt brat, sometimes in streetwear, sometimes in a tuxedo, hands thrust in pockets, gauche in his lovemaking, jerky in his actions after sniffing quantities of cocaine. Ottone is in tight, white naval uniform. Claudio is the emperor in a suit, or practising golf in jogging pants, his white hair brushed back, Clinton-like. And so on.

The ideas, though some may find them audacious, never quite betray the lyrics. Ottone does indeed find Poppea "resting among the flowers;" but the flowers in question are a large vase of white lilies on the counter of a piano bar (with a harpsichord where the piano should be), behind which she is slumped after one martini too many. The fountains or springs of which he sings pour from a vodka bottle. Nerone, prompted by his mother, delivers his wholly hypocritical speech on the poor, and how much better it would be to quit power and join them, to TV cameras.

FrankAderholdt
Posts: 161
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:37 am
Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA

Post by FrankAderholdt » Sun Apr 10, 2005 1:48 pm

Thanks for the review. My reference to "campy" may have been misleading. I need to clarify. I was referring to the stories themselves, not to the manner of staging. That being said, it's my personal opinion that "period" costumes and production design fit the libretti better than any modern rethinking can. I've seen some contemporary productions on video, and I can't get over the disconnect between the stories and the staging.

Upon further reflection, I realize I've been inconsistent on this very topic and should rethink my position. For example, I loved Ian McKellan's movie version of Richard III a few years back. Transforming Richard into a 1930's Hitler-style dictator worked for me. In fact, it seemed more "real" than the old, traditional Olivier version. Maybe the secret is in our ability to instantly recognize the modern tyrant and grasp Shakespeare's mastery of the type. (Doesn't hurt that it's great literature, either, something no Baroque opera can claim.)

I'm now hip-deep into aesthetic theory, which is way out of my league.

In the final analysis, I suppose that this matter is like most things in art: Some ideas work, some don't. As is always the case, time will tell which novel productions have lasting value and which will prove just to be crap.
"Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise." -- Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Guest

Post by Guest » Sun Apr 10, 2005 3:54 pm

FrankAderholdt wrote:In the final analysis, I suppose that this matter is like most things in art: Some ideas work, some don't. As is always the case, time will tell which novel productions have lasting value and which will prove just to be crap.
*Sigh of relief.*

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