Sunday, January 23, 2005

Pamela Rosenberg

I wish her well. I have experienced enough of the European, especially German speaking, opera scene to know that Pamela is completely in tune with it. She did not invent the style of production that has so scandalized San Francisco. It's quite common all over Germany and down into Switzerland. On one of my trips to Zurich to see the Italian singer she was singing in Haydn's L'Anima del Filisopho. The action, which concerns Orpheus, took place on a bare, steeply-raked stage with windows on the sides where many of the subordinate characters' heads appeared. Most mysterious was the tribe of natives with large heads (or perhaps masks) who seemed to be the chorus. Or? What they meant in a story about Orpheus, I will never know. The Italian was in drag in this opera and sang fabulously. She gives value.

My position is simple: if it makes the story clearer, as in Armida, I'm ok with it. I might even like it. If it distracts attention onto itself with no apparent connection to the story, I'm against.

I know that Robert Commanday is irate over how she manages the opera financially, but this has never been my grievance. My chief complaint is with the decline in the quality of the singing. It's not a steep drop, but it's enough to annoy. She saves money on singers in order to spend it on productions. One begins to wonder about the price of one's ticket, and once this thought has occurred, there's no going back.

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