Somewhat belatedly, I’m still musing on Glyndebourne’s Ariadne auf Naxos, seen on Tuesday, 4 June, so I just need to get some thoughts down. Apologies if it feels a bit disjointed.
Katharina Thoma’s production has had its fair share of detractors amongst critics, and with a modicum of justification. It’s interventionist, a faint whiff of Regietheater seeing it set in a country house, modelled on Glyndebourne, during the second world war. Dryad, Naiad and Echo are nurses tending to wounded soldiers during the opera. A bomb gets dropped in the gardens towards the end of the Prologue (well, if you will plan fireworks parties in the middle of the blitz, what do you expect?) In the Opera proper, all are shell-shocked and distressed, there is much assertive use of injections, for both bomb-ravaged soldiers and supposedly sex-crazed commedia dell’arte players (Zerbinetta also gets a straitjacket for good measure). Bacchus is a fighter pilot; I couldn’t quite tell you who Ariadne is in this concept. The composer prowls the stage watching his characters unfold in the opera but, in the process, blurring the divide between the imaginary and the all-too-literal. (more…)
The South Bank are embarking on a six-month festival tracing the development of C20th music, based on Alex Ross’s book The Rest is Noise. The London Philharmonic Orchestra are described as the ‘backbone’ of the endeavour and, fittingly, it was the LPO that kicked off the proceedings with a high-impact Strauss concert of both familiar and rarer fare. (more…)
It’s a couple of weeks now since we did our annual trip to Glyndebourne, and I just haven’t had much chance since then to sit down and write it up. Hence, this will be a quick round-up of both performances (seen on successive days): Cunning Little Vixen and LaCenerentola.
What to say of Vixen, other than that I still don’t quite get it. The story is thin, to say the least, but to its credit it is told simply and briefly. Janáček’s spare and direct musical and dramatic style serves only to emphasise the thinness, however, and up until the closing 20 minutes, I watch it mildly entertained, but never moved or gripped. (more…)
Despite its length, despite its huge demands for chorus and orchestra, despite its air – from the very first bars of the overture – of pompous grandiosity, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is, at its heart, an intimate tale. A small community, with its rituals and ceremonies, its civic pride in the very best sense, is thrown into turmoil by an outsider who captivates them whilst breaking their rules and dearly-held traditions. And in the process, one tale of love blossoms whilst another is set aside. And in David McVicar’s production for Glyndebourne, I can’t think when I’ve been more struck by this intimacy of the work, or seen it so thrillingly surfaced. (more…)