Friday, November 11, 2005


Dear NYCO:

Why you gotta treat me so bad? Seriously.

I really need to pinpoint what I am trying to come so close now and then. Ariane, for example. It wasn't good. But it was ALMOST good and the problems (namely, the Ariane and her mezzo sidekick...oh, and the spinning wall) were so obvious. Why didn't anyone step in and tweak it? Could they not have been replaced? Cast differently? Could the WALL have stopped spinning?

But I am not talking about Ariane tonight. I decided it was time I see the NYCO production of Turandot. OK, I know many of you bitches are saying, "that was your first mistake." Understood. But this season's incarnation got a nice review in the Times last week, and the opera has enough nice moments when performed well that I figured it was worth the trip.

On the whole, it was perfectly enjoyable. The production has many serviceable elements: The NYCO orchestra and chorus (under George Manahan) were truly at their finest. Lori Phillips, Philip Webb and Guylaine Girard as Turandot, Calaf and Liu respectively all turned in very listenable if predictable performances. Nothing to write home about, but perfectly pleasant.

Here's my real gripe: The production has some nice things but OH I wouldn't really know because the ENTIRE opera is performed behind a painted scrim. Yes, that's right. The scrim doesn't come up for three acts. Was it stuck? Was the scrim-raisers union on strike? I mean, seriously. Bring it up, kids. Let us see the princess' face. There's enough fog and dim "autumnal" light to hide whatever you're hiding.

Speaking of which, the whole thing looked vaguely gilded and foggy. And the backdrops resemble the Peoria Community Players' production of Into the Woods.

OK, I think I am coming to my point. NYCO is a place that has the freedom to push the envelope, to find exciting young talent, and to bring out the provocative elements of the standard repetoire. So why do I feel like I just opened a "Do-It-Yourself Turandot" kit? And when they DO push the envelope, why do they so often miss the mark (Their wonderful Mines of Sulphur, notwithstanding.)?

Then again, it's freaking Turandot, so whatever.

1 comment:

Maury D'annato said...

I once saw a Dutchman in Chicago that took place entirely behind a scrim. Thought I'd start screaming. Luckily, Malfitano relieved me of that duty.