For quite some time I have wondered whether it’s possible to reinterpret Puccini’s Tosca or whether the specificity as to time and place in the libretto makes it effectively impossible? Indeed I had never even seen it tried. All this despite the many and obvious anachronisms in the libretto. All the Toscas I had seen were clearly set in Rome in that one week in 1800 (or at least the implausible version of it that’s contained in the libretto)! Phillip Himmelmann’s production for the 2017 Baden-Baden Easter Festival breaks the mould in giving it a contemporary, or perhaps near future, setting.
Rossini’s rarely performed opera seria Maometto II opened at the Four Seasons Centre last night in a production by David Alden and with substantially the same cast as when it played in Santa Fe on 2012. This is the restored Maometto in the edition prepared by Hans Schellevis in an attempt to get as close to Rossini’s initial Naples score as possible. So, no happy ending and all the complexity of Rossini’s original design.
Die Meistersinger is a problematic opera, particularly for Bayreuth. It has rather disturbing elements of German nationalism and a performance tradition at the festival of those being used for ends that most people would rather be able to forget. No surprise then that Katharina Wagner’s production, recorded in 2008, tries to deal with both. It’s a bold effort. Like Robert Carsen’s Tannhäuser it tries to use visual art as a metaphor for music and art in general.