What’s black and white and red all over?

The 2010 Oslo recording of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea is one of the strangest opera videos I have ever seen.  Besides having an almost complete set of the characteristics that critics pejoratively assign to Regietheatre it also has a very unusual video treatment that goes well beyond quirky camera angles and overly intrusive close-ups.  So the box is being entirely accurate when it states “Based on a performance directed by Ole Anders Tandberg.  Adapted and filmed by Anja Stabell and Stein-Roger Bull”.

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Et in Bohemia ego

It’s a curious fact that two of the three most popular operas; Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s La Bohème, are about women dying from tuberculosis.  It’s also curious that they are almost always presented as frothy escapist fantasies in which Death makes his appearance only in the tear jerking finale.  It’s very curious because Death stalks the libretto of both operas, albeit usually well hidden behind brocade, champagne and Christmas decorations.  In 2005, at Salzburg, Willy Decker broke with convention and made Death an explicit actor in La Traviata creating the famous red dress production that has even been seen at that bastion of conservatism the Metropolitan Opera.  In 2012 Stefan Herheim did something similar for La Bohème in Oslo.

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