The temptation to review this afternoon’s MetHD broadcast of The Enchanted Island in McGonagallesque (or perhaps more accurately, Samsesque) doggerel is strong but I think I’ve had enough of it for one day and do you really want to read stuff like:
Ten great singers get to sing trash
‘Cos Peter Gelb wants lots of cash
Jeremy Sams goes for broke
Which almost rhymes with baroque
For real baroque would too jazzy
for the New York bourgeoisie
Unfortunately that’s about as good as the libretto gets most of the time.
There are a few moments when one half suspects an opera is about to break out. The lovers’s quartet in Act 1 set to “Endless pleasure” is pretty good and Act 2 starts well with strong arias from Hermia (Liz deShong) and Sycorax (Joyce diDonato). Throughout the excellent cast sing and act with technical excellence and great commitment but the overall effect is still of the Royal Shakespeare Company doing panto with the funny bits left out.
It’s perfectly possible to do baroque in a way that is funny, engaging and accessible. The Glyndebourne production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen and Salzburg’s hilarious and subversive production of Purcell’s King Arthur show what can be done. The Enchanted Island doesn’t cut it, being one more proof that the Met’s formula of throwing lots of money at a bad idea doesn’t work.
Camera work and sound quality were no better than usual.
If you feel the need to read a proper review Olivia Giovetti’s is very good.