Dancing to Così

Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker is a well known, rather avant garde Belgian choreographer and not, perhaps, the obvious choice to direct an opera production but that’s the assignment she took at Opéra nationale de Paris in 2017 with Mozart’s Così fan tutte which was recorded at the Palais Garner.  Her approach is to double each of the six characters with a dancer and develop an elaborate, largely abstract and severely modern choreography for all twelve players though, naturally enough, with the more technical dance elements going to the dancers.  The choreography, as is apparently often the case with De Keersmaeker is explicitly geometric.  The stage is marked with circles and other geometric figures which inform or constrain the choreography.  Much of the time this results in a lot of running round in circles or standing in semicircles swaying backwards and forwards.  Indeed right up to Ah, guarda, sorella that’s pretty much all that happens though as things hot up emotionally the dancers get more to do with most of the big arias being paired with a dance solo and so on.

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Renée and her frocks

John Cox’s production of Massenet’s Thaïs at the Metropolitan Opera is probably most remembered for the rather extraordinary collection of Christian Lacroix frocks that Met perennial Renée Fleming gets to wear.  It’s rather more than that.  In fact it’s a pretty good example of what the Met does best.  It’s sumptuous and spectacular and has a pretty much ideal cast which, together, go a long way toward making this curious piece rather enjoyable.

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