Una opera in maschera

I despair.  I really do.  Yesterday’s MetHD broadcast of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera had so much going for it.  The singing was brilliant and David Alden’s production seemed to have plenty of interesting ideas.  I say “seemed” because we only got the briefest of brief glimpses of it in between the succession of close ups served up by video director Matthew Diamond.  On the odd occasions we got to see more than a head or a body it was usually from a weird angle.  It’s particularly irritating because the two elements of the production that seemed to be most important were the ones most ruthlessly undermined.  Alden’s movement of chorus, supers and dancers and the contrast between what they do and what the principals do seems to be important but who knows?  Similarly his use of contrasting spaces, especially in Act 3, is obviously important but when the viewer gets only a couple of seconds to establish the context before the camera moves in and loses it the effect is fatally weakened.


Even as a “concert in costume” though, which is pretty much what we saw in the cinema, this was pretty enjoyable.  Sondra Radvanovsky, Stephanie Blythe, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Marcelo Alvarez and Stephanie Blythe all lived up to their considerable reputations and diminutive Kathleen Kim showed she’s almost as agile of foot as of voice.  Fabio Luisi and the Met orchestra and chorus is also pretty much a can’t lose bet for Verdi.

Ballo itself is a bit of a daft “the king thinks with his dick” melodrama but it’s got some good music and at least for once it’s not the soprano who dies.

6 thoughts on “Una opera in maschera

  1. The Met seems to be falling down with the camera work lately. I was talking to a colleague over the weekend, and he brought up the Met’s broadcasts; he’d been to the one of La Clemenza di Tito recently, and said that in some parts the cameras were bizarrely close to the stage, so that one was occasionally looking basically right up the singers’ noses.

  2. I haven’t seen the hd yet. I saw this production in the house and really thought Alden had a great idea comparing Gustavos to Iearus. I thought it came off very well live. It’s a shame when the Met loses such a chance to preserve the production, as well as the performance, by using too many closeups. They missed a big chance with Romeo et Juliette in the second season too. That was a beautiful production in the house, IMHO, and it got lost in the shuffle with too many closeups, and not enough, in this case, full stage, shots.

    The same thing happened with Aida yesterday, when the final scene has Amneris above the couple in the vault, and the camera switched back and forth between the two places, instead of showing all 3 singers, which is what is amazing when you see it in the house. They reall should put some of us in charge of what they show 🙂

    It’s not only the Met that does this, but I usually see the rest on my fairly large, but not as large as an hd movie screen, computer. It stands out so much in the cinema.

    • I skipped yesterday’s Aida. I saw it when it was broadcast a couple of years ago and had no desire to see it again. Several people at the AtG party last night had seen it and were quite vociferous about the terrible video direction

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