L’Elisir di Steakhouse

Today was the first MetHD broadcast of the season and we got Bartlett Sher’s new production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.  It’s what I would call a “steakhouse production”.  It’s like a meal in a top end steakhouse.  Your steak is a fine piece of meat, they don’t mess it up and ditto your baked potato.  And it’s all served in luxurious surroundings with attentive service.  It’s a terrific steak dinner but it costs the same as the tasting menu at a place with two Michelin stars and it’s still just a steak dinner.

So, a brilliant cast; Netrebko, Polenzani, Kwiecien and Maestri, singing and acting up a storm in a production that was pretty much devoid of ideas beyond a few odd costuming choices.  Since when did Italian peasant girls get to dress like they are attending a ball in a Jane Austen novel?  Still the girl singing Nanetta was cute and had the best dress.  Gary Halvorson’s video direction was about par for the course in terms of virtually incessant close-ups.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon but ultimately forgettable.

10 thoughts on “L’Elisir di Steakhouse

  1. Just got back from watching the same production and I agree with you though perhaps I’m a bit more disappointed. I found the production and conducting rather pedestrian. No one seemed to have much of an idea about what to do. Kwiecien was fine as always but Polenzani who I’d never seen before doesn’t seem to have much acting ability. Lovely voice but park and bark. Even Netrebko’s acting was uninspired though she poured out some beautiful sounds, and I’m a big Netrebko fan. My touchstone performance is still the one from Lyon with the newly married Alagna and Gheorghiu. Wonderful acting, singing and stage business and even updated rather well to the 1920’s which should meet with your approval.

    • I don’t disagree with you, except maybe about Netrebko’s acting. My expectations were very, very low having read opening night reviews by people I respect. It wasn’t as dire as I expected and a point by point take down of a Bartlett Sher production isn’t worth the candle. I thought the best comment on Sher’s ability as a director was the one he made during the interval when he said he didn’t know how Anna was going to play the part until the Final Dress. Anyone who has seen Anna work with a real director knows that she is a consummate pro who tries as hard as she can to give the director what he wants. Assuming he knows what he wants.

  2. This is where having the HD performances one month later (In New Zealand I mean) works to my advantage. I was pretty sure I was going to give this a miss and now I know for sure that I’ll save my $33 for a DVD of something else.

    • This year I severely cut back my MetHD plans. I’m only planning on seeing six and the lemur isn’t going at all. I am resolved to see more live performances even if it means going to, eg, Hamilton. Several other people I know have made the same decision. The product really isn’t as good as the hype.

      • Same here. I started going to everything a couple of years ago but this season. seems very unattractive. I refuse to watch Botha in anything since he nearly put my kids off opera for life in Aida, and I can’t stand listening to Giordani, so that’s a quarter of the season out. Can’t see the point of seeing Giulio Cesare with that cast, how could it live up to the Glyndebourne perfection, and I refuse ever to watch that wretched Aida production again. The only must-sees for me are The Tempest for Keenlyside, Parsifal for Kaufmann and Maria Stuarda for DiDonato.

      • My own feelings more or less exactly. I’m also curious about the Parsifal as it will be seen in Toronto though not I suspect with Kaufmann. I’ll see the three you mention plus Franceska di Rimini and Les Troyens because chances to see them are so rare. I’ll also see Clemenza even though that means I will be seeing Clemenza at least three times this season but I do love it.

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