Newsflash: Arthus too obscure for regie
If this were an opera as well known as Carmen or Tristan und Isolde, then perhaps such an approach could be more easily justified. Such familiar works demand to be rethought for the 21st century, and audiences will often understand the point that is being made in such productions. But with a piece like Chausson’s, this is impossible, since the overwhelming majority of the audience will never have heard, seen or studied the work. (Guardian)
Bollocks to that.
Whether Graham Vick’s production works or not I don’t know since I didn’t go see this it – though I pondered the possibility for 2 1/2secs as an unusual chance to go to Paris had briefly opened up (and then closed again) the week before. To say it simply couldn’t have worked is irritatingly reactionary. Enough with this anti-regie bile. Anything, even something suspiciously flowery-scented and pastel-coloured found tomorrow under a pile of Roccocco furniture, could work given a sensitive/intelligent regie production. To think that something as ingrained in public imagination as the arturian legend couldn’t is moronic. In any case, it’s not possible to start thinking about it even in a roundabout way as this chap doesn’t say anything beyond:
Men in modern casual dress wield broadswords in a cheap flatpack construction house with a garish plastic sofa and a vase of flowers.
Neither does he say much about the singing:
Jordan and his forces do Chausson proud and Alagna, in particular, gives a remarkably impressive performance which deserves to give his career a huge boost.
Proud? Impressive? What do they actually do? Come on, this is our once in a generation moment to find out and we weren’t there. But there are
three five (5!) noodling paragraphs about how the staging sucked. Nothing is described further than the modern dress, broadswords, construction house, garish sofa and flowers bit.
Better only are the comments:
I too am amazed at the Guardian allowing Martin Kettle to write at some length about a staging in Paris of an obscure opera. An excellent, thoughtful review covering the general and the specific. No rushed waffle. So many points made and supported.
And how! (from the same comment:)
It would have been so easy to edit out the reference at the end to the Covent Garden Mathis der Maler for being too obscure. It’s relevant – it does work.
Me too, me too, I love references to other “obscure” operas with my obscure opera reviews. It warms the snobbish cockles of my own heart. But I’m especially glad someone underlined the point that the reference was rather obscure. I know, it’s a tough day when the Guardian’s editors get something we thought was arcane. Maybe they were in a rush and skipped that bit.
There’s one common sense comment. Of course, it can’t be about the production since nothing concrete was said:
The intro is nonsense. Opera houses … depend financially on a finite corpus of enduringly popular works from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Yes, they do, except that the 18th century should also be included so as not to leave out Mozart.
But Kettle goes on: So it is strange that they mostly make … little effort to unearth less well known treasures from this … productive period.
Not strange at all because, when opera houses stray from the enduringly popular works, they suffer financially. So they don’t stage operas of which the punters are ignorant, be those works from the productive period or be they not.
All around article fail. Still:
I hope Mr. Kettle does more of this kind of thing. I got a lot out of it.
I, on the other hand, hope he doesn’t. All I got was 5 paragraphs of anti-regie whinging. Cheap commodity, that.