Straightforward Otello from the Met

In 2015 the Metropolitan Opera premiered a new production of Verdi’s Otello directed by Bartlett Sher.  It was broadcast in the Met in HD series and subsequently released on Blu-ray and DVD.  It’s a bit hard to judge the production on video because of the video direction.  I don’t think there are any big ideas but it’s decorative enough with arrangements and rearrangements of plexiglass wall/rooms and some effective video projections for things like the storm scene.  Only Act 4 breaks the mould with a sparse stage with just a bed and a few chairs.  I strongly suspect though from the occasional wide angle shot that there was a lot more going on visually than one sees on the video.  Costumes are 19th centuryish and quite decorative.

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Patchy Andrea Chénier

What’s become of David McVicar?  His 2015 production of Giodarno’s Andrea Chénier for the Royal Opera House seems typical of his recent work.  It looks expensive.  It features a starry cast.  He flirts with dramatic risk but in the last analysis it comes off as a bit tame and even sloppy.  Basically when the principals are at the centre of the drama it’s compelling stuff but when they are not it’s not and there are curious inconsistencies.

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High contrast Traviata

The starting point for Peter Mussbach’s 2003 production of La Traviata for the Aix-en-Provence festival is his knowledge, as one trained as a medical doctor, of the effects of TB on a person’s appearance.  He argues that the disease produces a strange kind of beauty with the skin translucent and pale.  So, here Mireille Delunsch, as Violetta, wears a white dress, a platinum wig and very pale powder throughout while everyone else is dressed in black.  Couple this with a high contrast and highly dramatic lighting plot and very sparse sets and you have the essence of the “look”.  The blocking and Personenregie reinforces this with Violetta often appearing to be an ethereal, not quite solid, presence surrounded by a rather coarse material world.

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