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.

ffwWhether 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.


About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on June 7, 2015, in freeform weekend, french opera, rants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. did you leave a comment on that post? i think sometimes only those who agree with the opinion nodding while the rest stays quiet..

    reminded me somewhat of the critic who said b/c there was no bed in that derR in zürich nothing worked b/t Nina Stemme + VK.. it speaks more to some “expectation” they self generated and when not given reacted like a 3 yr old..

    • I didn’t, the comments were turned off already. That was the reason for the post 😉 I was fuming at how pointless and uninformative the article was.

      DR is one of those operas that people have very entrenched opinions about. If you change any little thing there’ll be someone bitching to high heaven how you ruined it. I’m always glad to see a DR production that strays from the norm, specifically for that reason.

      With DR I don’t think it matters what kind of bedroom they are in; it’s only got to be an older woman’s (older than Octavian) and that’s about it. All the rest, though some would say Strauss really wanted this and that, he was reminiscing about the Ye Olde Empire and whatnot – to me all that is extraneous (it’s got a certain charm, I’m not saying, but how many times have we seen it already?). The heart of the matter is the inbalance and attraction in spite of it between the two.

      • i was only using derR as an example, more that people have in their mind some kind of notion and when they don’t see it, the analytical part of their brain seems to shut down and reasoning fails and all things revert back terrible-3 behaviors.. even the notion of looks (that famous Sesto tandrum..)

        Anyhow, that first quoted paragraph in the post already makes no sense.

        (ps- interestingly i made the first comment from outside wp but was forced to “sign in”, but now get no feedbacks on replies, strange..)

        • which Sesto tantrum? there are so many…

          oh, who knows, WP has stopped informing me if somebody follows me and sometimes if someone both likes and comments I only get the like notification. Also I thought I posted the above comment last night but it turned out I didn’t…

          • oh wait, i got it wrong, DerR tandrum, poor Erraugh’s Octavian.

            • oh, that. You know, they criticised everything about that production and I think there was very little wrong with it even in hindsight (no bed! haha, they had that very large sofa). I thought she was a properly cute Octavian and Sesto.

              • i watched the whole thing, quite like her characterization! actually i’m quite impressed with her acting.. on the intuitive side more than “pretending” to be somebody.. though the opening scene was a bit much for me 😀 😀

  2. Regie, or Not Regie?

    Sometimes i think the only reason to read the Guardian reviews is to get annoyed by them

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