No theatre please, we're opera fans


While the subject of opera is getting some commments, I should mention this good essay in Sunday's Newsday, titled Cutting - edge? Cut it out. The entire thing is worth reading, but I'll quote some favorite parts.

(Naturalism, by the way, is a problematic notion in opera, which traffics in artifice and myth.)


For all that New York is a center of cutting-edge art, its opera lovers seem innocent of the fact that the intentional fallacy was debunked long ago. "Give us the opera as the composer intended," they whine. But nobody knows what long-dead creators had in mind. Even with the benefit of documentary evidence (explanatory notes and eyewitness accounts), no one has ever been bound by the chimera of authorial intention.

Times change. Do theatergoers clamor for boys to portray Juliet and Cleopatra, as Shakespeare expected? The original production books for several Verdi operas still exist. Verdi expert Julian Budden offers withering appraisals of their composer-approved stage business: "worthy of the Folies Bergere," or "remarkably crude."

By the way, the Peter Sellars operas mentioned in Newsday are now out on DVD: Marriage of Figaro (set in Trump Tower), Don Giovanni (set in Harlem with the hot Perry brothers playing the Don and Leporello), and Così fan tutte (set in a seaside diner). Supposedly these are available as a complete set, but not anywhere I can locate.

[images from the Decca web site]

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Published on August 1, 2005 8:17 PM.

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