For me the opera is about the music.
Is Mark Morris' Dido bad because the characters dress in strange not at all Greek outfits and move around in ugly angular movements? Or is it good because Stephanie Blythe sings it gorgeously?
Is the Met Ring bad because there is this huge, distracting piece of machinery on the stage? Would I perhaps get used to the giant machinery? Or is it bad because everyone sings it as though it were a Rossini patter song? I liked only the twins, Jay Hunter Morris and Eric Owens. I tried for a second viewing, but the boredom was simply too intense, and I went home.
Is I Capuletti bad because instead of a set there is a shiny floor? Or is it incredible because it has some of the most glorious singing, especially the duets, that I have ever heard? If I can't figure out what is going on, should I still like it?
Is Doctor Atomic a good opera when nothing happens except a bomb is hanging in the air? Is it a good opera because of the score? Or would the characters have to do something interesting, too? What if the characters are insignificant? Should I still like it?
If the people all look ridiculous should I hate Giulio Cesare? Would Julius Caesar invade modern Egypt? Does it matter that they are all enjoying themselves? Does it matter that the plot is astoundingly easy to follow? Except for the two basses which I can't seem to tell apart. If the music is lively and the singing wonderful, should I care how it looks?
My rule is: give me something. Laughter is something. Cecilia going off on a rocket is something. Amazing bel canto is something. Pattering your way through Wagner is not. A bomb hanging in the air is not. Xerxes and his cohorts standing around in boring costumes is not anything. I expect you not to bore me.
I'm beginning to be surprised by how seldom my opinions coincide with the majority of critics. We are expected to assume that Peter Gelb is a failure when no evidence is provided to support it. Just because they don't like him.
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