More coherent thoughts on Sellars’ and Currentzis’ Salzburg Tito

Spending a couple of hours on a flight with an impressive number of rambunctious children under 10 offers a good opportunity to sit through this unnecessary bloated production. At several moments I wanted to skip the extraneous music but faced with the joy of the child next to me playing with the tray I went back to Sellars et all 😉

Well, hohum. Quite the letdown. It’s got enough visual chutzpah to give an initial impression of thought out but there doesn’t seem to be any coherence at all due to the lack of strong relationships. The drama is pushed back behind the chutzpah and the endless choir action. I would under no circumstances show this to a Tito novice. But I think Tito veterans should see it for many reasons, none of which, sadly, have to do with the story of Tito – except in the general Tito context. It’s unusual but it’s not illuminating, unless you really wanted to know more about the MusicAeterna choir.

Let me start with what I liked:

  • whatever is going on during the overture. It’s enegetic and interesting, it hits you and it feels refreshing that you don’t quite know what’s going on.
  • I liked the idea behind the choreography on Non piu di fiori. The development was thin.
  • Servilia and Sesto have a lovely sisterly relationship the likes of which you’ve never seen in a Tito production.
  • the black/white/ethnic thing. It’s unusual (though not for Sellars) and it says something. An interesting conversation could be had regarding what exactly it does say. I am not entirely sure.

What I didn’t get:

  • the development was thin in general. I never got the important relationships, aside from Annio and Servilia, who look like a real couple and the nice revelation of Servilia and Sesto.
  • who is Sesto, really? What is his motivation, really? It’s never explained and you need that – there can’t be Tito without it laid out clearly. If any of you get it, please enlighten me. I am stumped. She looks like a student who hangs out with people of a radical bent, though the same people seem to really like Tito. She doesn’t look like a proper fanatic, especially when she starts feeling really remorseful. Again, if you saw something I didn’t, please argue your point. I would love to see more meaning that I could so far.
  • Vitellia! She reminds me of the one we know but, again, her relationship with Tito and, especially, Sesto, is unclear to me. The upshot is I loved Schultz’s musically. She needs a proper Tito production, I hope she gets to sing in one somewhere we (I) can see.
  • Tito dying lessens the drama and the message. In fact
  • the lack of proper relationships dilutes the message to the point where it’s hard to care about what is going on.
  • The MusicAeterna choir and their neverending closeups: yea, they’re good but I don’t see why Tito has to be used as a vehicle to push their agenda to the point where it’s more MusicAeterna choir than Tito.

I am still undecided on Currentzis yet. Some good stuff, some overdone, meddlesome. Whover advocated the extra music needs to be spanked with a wooden paddle (unless they particularly like it).

About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on August 16, 2017, in 1001 musings on la clemenza di tito, mozart and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. oof, am having Non piu di fiori in head again!
    i still dont have this one, could you share? though from reading this am having flashback again of my reaction to Currentzis’ DonG where i thought the extra embellishments were done to (self) promote the idea of “genius” rather than to contribute to the music. And i was thinking with E.Haïm for example, she doesnt do that but focussing on the singers and the story, and you hear the genius approach that way.)

  2. Interesting thoughts, I haven’t got hold of the video yet (was blocked here) but I listened to the audio. I agree on the inserts of non-Tito music, I does alter the whole musical impression and atmosphere a lot. Some of Currentzis’ approaches are quite funny and interesting though, so there are some arias/ensembles that work well for me and others that don’t work at all. In general, I could do with a more relaxed, less showy approach.
    What was really annoying was the interval feature of the BR klassik Broadcast, featuring Currentzis/Sellars interviews. There were quite a lot of Sellars explanations I found interesting, but what urges me is that these two ingenious buddies seem to think they are the only two people on earth who understand what Mozart really wanted. They talked about a ‘special spiritual connection’ Currentzis has with Mozart, so of course all adding of music is getting closer to Mozarts original intention….They even went so far to claim there was a masterpiece hidden under the traditional surface of character display, but you would have to look closer to get to the true meaning and understand Mozart’s genius (which of course only they can do). How pretentious and an insult to every thoughtful production of the past and present! (but to be fair, the radio presenter was totally buying into that and it may have been meant differently by Sellars in the uncut interview).
    Hope you did arrive well and have a great holiday!

    • You have to chuckle at anyone who mentions the “special spiritual connection” to anything 😉 Fair enough if their reading was so out there and illuminating, except it wasn’t. You listen to Harnoncourt or to Kertesz or to Colin Davis and hear respect and understanding without self aggrandisment. And you watch a number of the productions out there and see that something intelligent and affecting can be done simply by following the libretto, which sadly was not the case here.

      my flight was great in all other aspects 😉 and I spent today out in the mountains, thank you 🙂

  3. Choking back my laughter at “Whoever advocated the extra music needs to be spanked with a wooden paddle (unless they particularly like it).”

    I’m going to shamelessly share my own review of this production, since I think we had similar thoughts about how the personal drama was undercut by Sellars’ approach:

    • Thanks for linking to your review 🙂 I see what you’re saying about the black/white/ethnic thing, though I still need to scrutinise the details (why are the muslims/ehtnic people apparently so into Tito? Or are they just trying to crush him (with apparent adulation)?

      You’re right Tito would still face discrimination for marrying Servilia but I guess by having Servilia = white but the good sort and Vitellia = black but the bad sort things are given some nuance. On the other hand, the terrorist cell seem to be entirely white, so it’s not quite clear to me what the position of the ethnic/muslim people is. Maybe they are the oppressed. whilst now both (Western) black and white are in power, with the whites usually resenting the blacks and the occasional “Oreo” going for her own ambition?

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