Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Polar bear puppets make people happy

Not a ton to say about the Taymor ZF except that I can't imagine finding it anything but delightful. The constant play between astounding image and theatrical devices laid bare makes Taymor's stagecraft perfectly pitched to allow the opera's whimsy and seriousness equal footing. It manages, without resorting to kitsch or anachronism, to provide a sense of continuity with the Magic Flute as we feel it must have been performed in Mozart's time. This is spectacle at a human scale, and thus a very different, and refreshing, experience from the cinematic lens through which we are used to viewing musical theatre.

In that sense, it is worth noting that last night actually made me less stoked about the hypothetical of a Taymor "Ring". For all the spectacular, spectacular of Wagner's tetralogy, I think it may suffer from the performative and self-reflexive trademarks which make Taymor's staging so enjoyable. The "Ring" is meant to exist less than it is meant to be performed. While this has no bearing on whether a staging is literal to rocky outcroppings, etc., it does mean the fourth wall is supposed to be firmly in place, and the circle of suspended belief kept whole throughout. In this way, Wagner's conception of the stage really does anticipate film, whereas Taymor's strengths flow in the opposite direction.

The cast is very good, Mary Dunleavy and Eric Cutler especially. Miklosa hit the notes but she needs a little more volume and heft to make it into really memorable QOTN territory. Gunn's voice is Gunn's voice, but let no one deny his Papageno keeps the show in the black, acting-wise. One Anna Christy singing Papagena was dang near inaudible. Special jury prize for Morris Robinson's Sarastro--I don't know how the role gets much more satisfying than that.

The orchestra sounded fine, tho my critical faculties have been a bit spoiled by that Klemperer recording I heard last week.

On a related note, its funny how I had planned to get sick of Mozart after last week, but all I wanted to do when I got home last night was put on Don Giovanni.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My take on the staging is that it is a kitchy mess. Fun. But a mess. Samarui hero, frumpy princess, dragonfly queen, Jolly Green Giant Pappageno, Dr. Seuss's 3 boys (a.k.a. Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3), and a troll-like Monastatos (complete with requisite man boobs). All play on a stage with creaky plexiglass stairs, geometric portals, and Masonic-like symbols run amok. (More than once I thought of the Stonecutters - the Masons of Springfield, USA, on THE SIMPSONS.) Total, meaningless mess, but fun.