Tuesday, August 28, 2012
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
Equaled in awfulness only by the horrendous Stephan Grogler 2004 production at the Santa Fe Opera also starring superstar coloratura Natalie Dessay, the 2008 production directed by Mary Zimmerman for The Metropolitan Opera made one wonder who was doing the sleepwalking. Another concept opera loaded down with directorial ego and post-modern irony, Ms. Zimmerman chose to set the opera in modern dress as (how original!) an opera within an opera. This led to much audience bafflement as to what was "really" happening and what was being rehearsed as the stars seemed to be going through the same loss of trust in real life as Amina and Elvino were enduring in the opera.
Bellini's gorgeous melodies were forced to take a back seat to actorial and directorial shenanigans which were forced upon an innocent opera from an innocent epoch. "Rape!" I wished to cry out when I saw the opera four years ago. HD director Barbara Willis Sweete did what she could to make sense of the confusion but all one could really do was to close one's eyes and let Bellini take over. Ms. Dessay and star tenor Juan Diego Florez made some fine sounds when they weren't acting out tantrums of one ilk or the other and the usually fine Met chorus was given a ridiculous collective tantrum of ripping up musical scores and overturning furniture at the conclusion of Act I. If one stayed for Act II which many folks did not, things went downhill.
Evelino Pido conducted. Jennifer Black sang the role of Lisa, Michele Pertusi assayed the role of Rodolfo, and Jane Bunnell sang the Mother. This disaster is what happens when a work of art is mistrusted and disrespected. Whatever possessed the Met to compound the felony by preserving this meretricious production on HD?
(c) meche kroop