Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

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lennygoran
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jan 15, 2022 4:43 pm

What a wonderful production-acts 1 and 2 were quite traditional with striking scenery and appropriate costumes-some nice music but the opera itself has a little too much drivel in these acts-especially act 2-then a completely imaginative amazing act 3 that even had a rolling elephant-my second rolling elephant in less than 4 days! Act 4 and 5 returned to the traditional and had lovely stirring music-over all a wonderful opera experience! I was surprised to see the Met actually did this opera. It was a $19.35 used dvd from Amazon.

The Met did it 6 times in 1924:

Le Roi de Lahore {1}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/29/1924
Debuts: Dorothy Wagner, Frances Weller, Leonora Nickerson, Marion Klebora, Yvonne Bailey, Marie Anderson
Review
[Met Performance] CID:86730
Le Roi de Lahore {2}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/10/1924
Review
[Met Performance] CID:86830
Le Roi de Lahore {3}
Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 03/18/1924
[Met Performance] CID:86940
Le Roi de Lahore {4}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/26/1924
[Met Performance] CID:87040
Le Roi de Lahore {5}
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/3/1924
[Met Performance] CID:87270
Le Roi de Lahore {6}
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/19/1924
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:99210

Here's a review of the Met's production from 1924

Review of Deems Taylor in the New York World

One thing should be made clear. There is no point in demanding of "Le Roi de Lahore" that it be something it isn't. It belongs to the great operatic family whose Father Adam was Meyerbeer and whose sole aim in life is to provide sumptuous settings, rich costumes, elaborate ballets and impressive pageantry for the eye, with rousing choruses, graceful dances, stirring marches, and all sorts of arias, duets, trios, and ensembles for the ear-in other words, a solid evening's entertainment, with no elements of uplift or dramatic unity or musical apotheosis or such like nonsense to complicate the spectator's enjoyment. An old, opulent, and respectable family that numbers at least one immortal - "Aida" - among its members, and which is no more to be despised than the Hippodrome or a Boston Symphony "pops" concert.

But Massenet has not done his part of the job. An opera of this school absolutely must have good tunes. The "barrel-organ" operas are much derided, but they did possess that requisite. There is hardly a theme that rises up from the orchestra imbued with life of its own from the beginning to the end of "Le Roi de Lahore."

If the production could save an opera, "Le Roi de Lahore" might have a chance, for Mr. Gatti-Casazza has given it a mounting that deserves the long-suffering adjective "sumptuous." The acting was prudently reduced to the minimum required by the Meyerbeerian formula - that is, to look heroic, raise the eyebrows occasionally, and clench the fists. The audience was a large and interested one, and the upper right hand corner of the gallery applauded louder and more persistently than one would have believed possible.

Here's a review from someone who didn't like it the way I did:

Mark E. Herriott
3.0 out of 5 stars Impoverished Theater?
Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2006
Verified Purchase
This is the second opera production from the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia I've purchased, the other one being Thais. Both operas should have a lavish treatment in both sets and costumes,as the subject matter and historical periods in which these operas are set call for that. Unfortunately, the Teatro La Fenice does not share this vision. The sets in both operas are modern and stylized, i.e. not much eye candy in these productions. Apparently everyone in Lahore buys their clothes from the same tailor, as there is little variation in the costumes and one would think that the main characters of Alim and Sita would get at least more than two costume changes in this five act production. It seems that the Teatro and I also don't share the same vision of Indra's paradise. I always pictured it as in a natural setting, with fountains and a few people painted blue here and there. The Teatro gives us a Victorian garden party in the Crystal Palace, which somehow seems historically out of context for a story which takes place way before Queen Victoria was even born. I found myself more interested in trying to see what the movie was that Indra was showing to his guests in Paradise than in the action of the opera. It seems that another reviewer had the same criticism of the Teatro's production of The Pearl Fishers. Its unfortunate that if a company is going to go through the cost and effort to record for posterity a production on DVD, that they can't put the same effort into mounting an opulent and unforgettable production. There is nothing memorable about this production. The singers are acceptable, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of chemistry between Alim and Sita. Poor Ana Maria Sanchez (Sita), perhaps if she were a tad lighter there might have been more closeness between Sita and Alim and my friend wouldn't have asked me if I were watching a new production of Die Walkure in French from the Bayreuth festival. Its unfortunate that this is the only version of Le Roi de Lahore available (the same case for Thais). If anyone wants to see French orientalism at its best, check out the production of Samson et Dalila with Placido Domingo and Shirley Verrett done by the San Franciso Opera. The Teatro La Fenice should follow their example and perhaps put a little more money into their productions or get a new artistic director.

And another one a little more enthusiastic:


Mr. Mc Warwick
4.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt at neglected early Massenet work.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 1, 2018
Verified Purchase
I'm giving this 4 stars purely for its unashamed attempt at staging and portraying a long neglected piece of French theatre and music which no major opera company has done in such a long time. I only knew it from the Bonynge and Sutherland recording of many years ago so to seeit was a great revelation.
Firstly the musical content which has some very elevating moments pointing to the much greater works of Massenet still to come. Then the Grande Opera theme of India with a ballet thrown in which was a very popular theme in the later 1880,s. The Pearl Fishers and Lakme are two that have that Hindu colour and style that attracted the public as something new at the time.
To move onto this production, which made with an obvious tight budget, serves the music and story quite well. I liked the moving domes and large pomander artefacts used to great affect. Some of the costumes were a bit over accentuated but at least the Indian character was obvious. I was not quite sure about the Paradise scene which was quite silly and out of character. It looked rather as if it had been borrowed from a cheap version of Dei Fledermaus with its Victorian entourage. We have the God being propelled around on a large model elephant on wheels which made it all very silly. Orpheus in the Underworld immediately sprang to mind making it very ribald and not fitting to the story but accepting that modern directors have some very crazy ideas I wave that point.
The singing was adequate and the artists did a good portrayal although Alim ( Giuseppe Gipaldi) has obviously had lessons in robot walking which became so annoying when watching him move as if his feet were magnetized to the stage! Orchestrally the music had very sudden changing tempos and didn't seem to flow comfortably. Even so its the only DVD of this opera on the market and at the budget price who can complain.
So, Quite watchable and acceptable and a good attempt at a neglected work.

maestrob
Posts: 15187
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

Post by maestrob » Sun Jan 16, 2022 7:46 am

Have never seen it and, frankly, even though I'm very much a Francophile, I doubt I'll pay $19.XX just to watch it once. At least I'm not in the mood for it this morning, said the curmudgeonly conductor! :wink:

Glad you enjoyed it!

lennygoran
Posts: 18019
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:03 am

maestrob wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 7:46 am
Have never seen it and, frankly, even though I'm very much a Francophile, I doubt I'll pay $19.XX just to watch it once. At least I'm not in the mood for it this morning, said the curmudgeonly conductor! 😉

Glad you enjoyed it!
Brian there are other Massenet's I've never seen-wish I could find more of his works on DVD that are traditional, have captions and are cheap! :lol: Another wish of mine-to find a decent Der Freiscutz. Regards, Len

maestrob
Posts: 15187
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

Post by maestrob » Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:31 am

lennygoran wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:03 am
maestrob wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 7:46 am
Have never seen it and, frankly, even though I'm very much a Francophile, I doubt I'll pay $19.XX just to watch it once. At least I'm not in the mood for it this morning, said the curmudgeonly conductor! 😉

Glad you enjoyed it!
Brian there are other Massenet's I've never seen-wish I could find more of his works on DVD that are traditional, have captions and are cheap! :lol: Another wish of mine-to find a decent Der Freiscutz. Regards, Len
I have the Gundula Janowitz on CD and haven't listened to it in years. There are some wonderful tunes, but with all the German dialogue, a DVD would be helpful. I'll scout around and get back to you on this.

lennygoran
Posts: 18019
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:41 am

maestrob wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:31 am
I'll scout around and get back to you on this.
Brian thanks-I found this movie version but am undecided? Regards, Len

https://www.amazon.com/Weber-Freischutz ... merReviews

maestrob
Posts: 15187
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

Post by maestrob » Sun Jan 16, 2022 9:28 am

lennygoran wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:41 am
maestrob wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:31 am
I'll scout around and get back to you on this.
Brian thanks-I found this movie version but am undecided? Regards, Len

https://www.amazon.com/Weber-Freischutz ... merReviews
Len, that's quite a good cast: I'm familiar with four of the singers who were at the top of their game in 1968. The four I've bolded were having international careers then. I may get this myself, as all the others seem to be updated productions. I'm more interested in authenticity than in sound quality at this point. Conductor Leopold Ludwig was much more than just another kapellemeister. I have an excellent Mahler IX on Everest by him.

Rolf Liebermann, Tom Krause, Toni Blankenheim, Gottlob Frick, Franz Grundheber, Edith Mathis, Arlene Saunders, Hans Sotin, Leopold Ludwig

lennygoran
Posts: 18019
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Our First Massenet Le Roi de Lahore

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jan 16, 2022 4:49 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 9:28 am
Len, that's quite a good cast: I'm familiar with four of the singers who were at the top of their game in 1968. The four I've bolded were having international careers then. I may get this myself, as all the others seem to be updated productions. I'm more interested in authenticity than in sound quality at this point. Conductor Leopold Ludwig was much more than just another kapellemeister. I have an excellent Mahler IX on Everest by him.


[/quote]

Brian thanks-I was hoping to pay a little less but I may have to throw in the towel and go for it! Regards, Len

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