Metropolitan Opera

Opera

Vivica Genaux talks to Michael Miller about Acting, Regieoper, and Taking the Waters: the Interview, Part III

Vivica Genaux has recently appeared in a George London Foundation recital at the Morgan Library, and Vivaldi's opera Ercole has recently been released in a superb recording by EMI with Europa Galante led by Fabio Biondi, in which she sings the part of Antiope. This is the third and final part of an interview held on December 13, 2011. MM I remember when I heard you in Paris in L'Italiana in Algeri—and I have to apologise that I never got a review out for that performance, which was great—but you were having some trouble at the time (At least it was announced in the house.), and all one noticed in the performance was that you were a little quiet for part of an act, and then you were right back into it.
Opera

Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina Revisits the Met after 13 Years

Even if the performance had not been as great as it was, we both, as newcomers to Khovanshchina, would have left the Met in a state of uncritical awe. Mussorgsky's historical tragedy, although the composer left it unorchestrated and unfinished at his early death, leaving a great deal of work for others, including Rimsky-Korsakov, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich in their separate efforts, has all the potency the greatest music and the most powerful human drama can lend it—all within a setting of the grandest spectacle. As the Met presented it earlier this month, its four and a half hours sped by, as we followed the hopeless and ultimately disastrous adventures of key players of various factions in the unstable years of Peter the Great’s minority. Even Mussorgsky's finished opera, his acknowledged masterpiece, Boris Godunov, does not leave us with such an overwhelmingly cathartic effect as the inexorable succession of assassinations, executions, and suicides with which Khovanshchina concludes. Mussorgsky, who wrote the libretto as well as the music, seems to have captured the tragic essence of history in it. There was a specific reason why the final effect of the Met performance was so moving, but to explain it, a little background is in order.
Opera

Live in HD? Donizetti’s Anna Bolena from the Met in Pixels

The audience poured out of the auditorium, through the lobby, and out into the parking lots with such a happy general purring that it seemed villainous to criticize the brave new entertainment Peter Gelb has brought the world. For almost five years now we have been able to watch High Definition video projections of performances at the Metropolitan Opera in movie theaters and auditoriums like the one at the Clark Art Institute, which I had just vacated. HD Live, as it’s called, has become a hit in most places, I hear—certainly in Great Barrington and Williamstown, where I've seen them, mingling with a dense, enthusiastic, mostly mature crowd. It's often harder to get a ticket to one of these projections than it is to get a seat at Met itself.

What could be more commendable than creating a show that provides so much enjoyment? It brings opera to a vast global audience at reasonable prices, and at various times in the past half-century many have feared opera was in danger of dying out altogether, either from the expense of production and operation or the sheer irrelevance of its elitist origins. The Met opera broadcasts, which began in the early 1930s, changed many lives and, in synergy with the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Opera News, helped raise significant sums of money for the Met during the Great Depression, when the house desperately needed funds and people needed cheap entertainment. Are the times not similar today? The broadcasts only created more opera-lovers, and what possible harm could they do? (Actually I know of one example, but I’ll leave that for another time.) Wouldn't the HD transmissions, with their spectacular images and vivid sound bring even more good into the world?

Opera

Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride at the Met with Susan Graham and Plácido Domingo

What a splendid idea to revive Gluck's final masterpiece, Iphigénie en Tauride, on two great stages at opposite ends of the continent. Gluck, the great reformer, has been too long little more than a chapter — or, worse — a section of a chapter in music history books, and recent attempts to bring his works to life on 21st century stages are for the most part commendable, whether they succeed or not, although I did sense a touch of cynicism in the excruciatingly fashionable Orphée of Mark Morris and Isaac Mizrahi — and a fashion statement (or ad) is not what we want in these unmitigatedly dignified works.
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