The waiting is over. The COC has announced the successor to Alexander Neef and it’s Perryn Leech who currently runs Houston Grand Opera. I think there’s a lot to like in this appointment. Leech is a guy who has done a lot in his career and I like that he comes from a technical background; in lighting as it happens. I would worry that someone from a stage direction background would want to hog that aspect of opera production. After all, it’s happened before at the COC. A conductor background would be redundant given we have an excellent music director. And the last thing we need is a business person with no real passion for opera.
In many ways Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots is a typical mid 19th century French grand opéra. It takes a sweeping, epic story; in this case the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and grafts onto it the elements the paying public demanded; spectacle, ballet, showpiece arias etc. The result is unwieldy and, when applied to such grim subject matter, almost grotesque. The 1991 Deutsche Oper production by John Dew (performed in German as Die Hugenotten) takes these disparate elements and works with them; mixing laugh out loud and extremely grim to create a piece of music theatre that is truly disturbing.