Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Opera News Censored

Today's big opera news is about Opera News.  Peter Gelb does not want them giving his productions negative reviews, so now they will not review the Metropolitan Opera.  Since most of the magazine is about the Metropolitan Opera, I assume this refers only to the section in the back where operas around the world are reviewed.

This story is in the New York Times.  The only possible conclusion is that Peter Gelb has a very thin skin.  I regard his regime as very bold and daring, bordering on iconoclastic.  His biggest success is something I am very grateful for--the establishment of the network of HD simulcasts into movie theaters.  It's very nice to sit in a movie theater and watch opera, especially when you know it is happening right then.  For the first few years there were a lot of technical glitches.  If you don't think about it, you don't notice that there are no more of these.  Sometimes my local theater turns the volume down too low, or up too high, or forgets to turn up the lights during intermission, but these things are out of the control of New York.

Up until Peter Gelb began his tenure the Metropolitan Opera was one of the (if not the) most conservative opera houses in the world.  Zefferelli, who favors elaborate naturalistic productions, was king.  Gelb daringly contracts people from outside the world of opera to create productions  The much maligned Eurotrash movement, it should be noted, is not doing this.  The to our eyes completely outrageous, modernistic productions seen everywhere in Europe are created by opera producers.  My favorite is still the fashion show Manon Lescaut at the Wienerstaatsoper.  It's all about couture.

He wants to have his cake and eat it too.  He wants the cake of iconoclastic productions, but he eschews the eating up of hostile critics.  Did he really think this wouldn't happen?  I recommend that he adopt the musician's motto:  when in doubt, fake it.  He's definitely not faking it very well.


Dr.B said...

I apologize if I have misused a metaphor.

Dr.B said...

He backed down.