Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Violetta...New Atomic

Someone please talk me out of faking sick so I can take in one of the non-sold out Harteros Violettas. Only another Traviata one hears oneself saying, but then there is the terribly overwhelming b-cast the other night, and this awfully tempting review from JSU:
To my mind it's a miracle that one who can be the rare sort of person Harteros' Violetta is onstage, opening long-unheard sonic-expressive vistas in the part, can also sing well and powerfully enough to be a star in this house.
Dang it.

In other news, sounds like Dr. Atomic's fundamental crappiness is not succumbing to the Met's shiny new production, despite our fondest hopes.

Watching the neat trailer video, I am re-intrigued the way I was before I actually saw the thing, and entertain ideas of seeing the new production and enjoying it and finding all the disappointment in between has just been a bad dream. But then I try to decide whether I was more bored in 2008 by Dr. Atomic or John McCain's acceptance speech, and I find myself choosing Dr. Atomic. And damn...that is just a tough, tough burn right there.

PS...A: For those of you who have not seen it yet but do have tickets, be warned: close to the end, when you will be praying for the end to come, there will be a countdown bit to the atomic bomb detonation. This countdown is not, I repeat NOT, in real time. It will say 5 minutes, but you still have 20, easy, to endure. Do not be fooled. Thanks to commenter E at Maury's place for reminding us of this. We had clearly repressed it.


Will said...

Oh, dear. Well I have a ticket and I'm certainly going to go, but I had hoped it would come to the MET and succeed. What do you think--is the opera basically flawed or is the production dragging it down? We had a luminous production of Nixon in China in Boston seve3ral years ago that people still talk about in awe.

Anonymous said...

I am embarassed to say that I was one of those who left at intermission. I did like "Batter my heart", but I didn't want my consciousness battered any longer. Every new opera I hear, I think "this will be a brilliant piece that I will appreciate and enjoy 25 years from now", and most new operas I hear, I cannot stay after intermission. (Indeed, new operas should retitle "intermission" as "escape".)

I still think that modern classical music speaks in a language that is relevant to an ecletcic few. When I leave an opera thinking, "interesting story - too bad there was music and singing", I know it did not speak to me.


Anonymous said...

Saw the premier at the Met. Sounds like Adams/Sellars reworked things somewhat from the version you saw -- the Groves' weight-loss stuff is now in the middle of the second act and, of course, the "We Believe" chorus had to be updated to "We BelieveD" to correct the physics (and, well, subvert your interpretation of it). Personally I found the first act riveting and the second soporific & inscrutable.

Same goes for the Met staging. I've seen a fair bit of Sellars' staging from the YouTube videos and the "making of" documentary, and the Met's is almost in conscious opposition -- which produces a strong first act and a strangely inert second -- with the exception of some wild American Indian stuff that you'd likely find even more appalling than the version you saw --

Though I guess you're not going to subject yourself to this opera again. I suppose the point of my post is to say that while I agree the opera as a whole is not a success, I wouldn't say it's fundamentally crappy. Only Act II is.

Totally agree with you on KM's last, though. Stunning, almost uncomfortably so.

Alex said...

Interesting points, all...I doubt I'll schlep up there in the next two weeks, but if I were in NY full time I think I would be going back to see the first act only. I'm pretty set on the opinion that the libretto is flawed beyond repair, but at the same time I still haven't fully separated it from the bafflingly incompetent stagecraft in the Sellars production.

It wasn't ugly or offensive, mind you, it was just so poorly thought out and distracting that it made me mad. Any production that doesn't have the superfluous dance corps prancing around the SECOND a singer closes their mouth has to be an improvement in some way.