Sunday, October 16, 2005

Opera Now

I found a copy of Opera Now at my neighborhood Borders, a British magazine I had not seen before. The September/October issue contains a number of interesting things:

It has an excellent appreciation of the life and career of Victoria de los Angeles, one of the truly great singers. I'm apparently not the only one who thought her French singing was marvelous, though the article does not mention her Faust. She was a kind of genius, I guess, a person in tune with music to its very depths. I especially liked the description of her one and only master class where she played the accompaniments for all the students. Her taste and musicality is unsurpassed.

They review Cecilia's Cleopatra, panning the production, calling it kitsch. My requirement is that the production explain what's going on, and I felt this one did that. In situ these operas didn't have productions and weren't really intended for what we are trying to do with them. One singer stood on one side and the other on the other. If there were three, one stood in the center. They dressed like fancy versions of people in the audience, and the set was the same for every opera. It was about singing. Only the rescue machinery like the flying Amor in Poppea distinguished it from a concert.

Pamela Rosenberg came to San Francisco from Stuttgart, and the two companies exchange productions. Evidently Busoni's Doktor Faust has been presented there in the production from San Francisco. The magazine also found it incoherent.

There's a nice article about John Adams in anticipation of Doctor Atomic. There is a sentence with the words "there was no need for theatrical dialog." If you want to call it an oratorio, I'm ok with that, just don't try to trick me into thinking it's an opera.

This is a European perspective with a very lively tone. I like it. Predicting the death of opera may be premature. Opera seems alive and well to me.

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