Monday, November 14, 2005

Carl Sagan presents: Romeo and Understudy

Despite the slightly unfair title of this post, I do applaud the efforts of Maureen O'Flynn, who, as Natalie Dessay's cover, stepped in relatively at the last minute this evening as Juliet in the Met's new production of Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. Seriously, brava. Sadly, despite these efforts, it was not a great performance of the role, especially when paired with Ramon Vargas--who turned in a very vocally assured if not particularly thrilling Romeo. I will definitely need to see this production again with Dessay in the role. Especially because I inadvertently already bought tickets.

The production itself is sort of like a Griffin and Sabine book meets a Nova episode meets a bad dream of Galileo's. There are massive projections of stars, moons, eclipses...inlaid wood. Not to say it isn't pleasant to look at...but what the hell is it? OK, the story is timeless, themes are universal blah blah WE GET IT. Though I will say it was ALL worth it for the opening of act IV...the bedroom scene. The curtain opens on Juliet's bed floating in a small pool of light amidst stars and a largely dark stage. It was truly lovely and was certainly the most (only?) truly affecting moment unique to this production. Regardless, this is not an opera I know very well, so I was certainly glad for this re-introduction. There are some truly spectacular moments. If anyone has recording suggestions, do let me know.

Surprise standout: Dimitri Pittas' glorious Tybalt. Bravo!

Update: The AP Review is in...ouch (the truth hurts).

1 comment:

Claudia Lane said...

I saw this production on Friday, 25th of Nov., with Dessay. She was glorious in the role and I hope you get a chance to hear/see her in it. Vargas was ok vocally, but he did not even try to look or act like the boy/man of my imagined Romeo - he looked much too mature. I wish he had at least been cleanshaven - petty perhaps, but it bothered me throughout.
Re the Galileo staging, I liked it and thought it worked, visually placing it in early Renaissance Italy. There is a room at the Met Museum with the same wooden panelling celebrating the revolutionary artistic idea of perspective. The sets reminded me of that. My final comment is that this production seemed choppy and less focused than previous ones I had seen. I attribute that to the restored music, which I learned about on your blog! Many thanks for the info. Claudia