Tuesday, April 19, 2011

öffnet den Schrein!

The greatest night I've ever had in an opera house was in 2003 when I was blown away by a production of Schreker's Die Gezeichneten at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. It was one of those magical nights that are like heroin to opera lovers, a night where a masterpiece --as Die Gezeichneten surely is-- meets superb singing, a great staging and a magician in the pit. I also attended a performance of the Der Schatzgräber mentioned in the linked review, but it was a horrible David Alden production only rescued by a superb musical performance.

I was reminded of that shattering performance of Die Gezeichneten today while reading James Jorden's (aka La Cieca) superb analysis of another Stuttgart production, Calixto Bieito's post-apocalyptic Parsifal. I'm a burned-out Wagnerian, tired of his musical long-windedness, characters I don't give a damn about and, well, Wagnerians. I do make the exception for Tristan und Isolde, easily in the running for sobriquet "Greatest Opera Ever Written" and Parsifal.

What I love about Mr. Jorden's piece is that he works from a premise that is alien to a lot of American opera-goers: taking seriously a production that isn't remotely set in the time and place specified in the libretto. This is a typical response, from operagirl40 at Parterre:

What absolute GARBAGE! The only one who should have been urinated on……….is the director!

Zzzzzzzzzzzz. I've had good (the Peter Sellars Malibu beach house Pelleas et Melisande here in Los Angeles) and bad (the Lenhoff "let's stare at 3 gray walls for 4 1/2 hours" Parsifal at ENO) experiences with so-called Regietheter, but give me something that makes me think over boring period sets and park-and-bark singers.

I'd love for the Bieito Parsifal to show up within 5,000 miles of me, but that's very unlikely, as is a DVD/download release.

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