Saturday, December 10, 2011

FAUST simulcast Metropolitan Opera

Classical grand opera stories have very little to do with modern life. A boringly larger percentage feature the worst of a defunct patriarchal society. Even Gounod's Faust, once so highly regarded it was chosen to be the very first production of the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, has a righteous, unloving brother who curses his sister for being pregnant out of wedlock. He joins a vast array of operatic fathers and brothers who care more for a code of honor than for their families -- it raises my hackles to such an uncomfortable level I feel like a stegosaurus trying to lean back in a narrow theatre seat.

That is only a small irritation I felt at today's simulcast of the Met's new production of Gounod's Faust designed by Des Macaluf [perhaps spelled wrong] When stage directors are offered a chance to spend a lot of money on a production of a very aging warhorse they generally decide to set it in a more modern time period irregardless of the ethnos that informs it. So this Faust was set approximately 1930 with a nuclear physics lab, lots of steel framing the stage and a mishmast of costumes from early 20th century. Nothing made any sense. The story is medieval and hasn't been relevant for several hundred years. I hated it from curtain up to the end. There are many glorious arias and dance tunes, voices of the principals were as find as expected -- that was enjoyable.

The pretentiousness of the production was appalling and the lighting was always dim. I can understand the logic for that, as I understood the logic for the dimness of the National Theatre's Collaborator production a week ago. But I think it's grossly arrogant for a director to dim the lighting as a metaphor for the darkness of his subject matter when it means that the audience who paid handsomely to see a live performance, can't see what's going on on stage. This was corroborated by the woman who went with me when she said she had spoken to someone at intermission whose wife had just seen the Collaborators in London and complained of being unable to see the actor's faces. I would vote for retiring this opera from the repetoire.

1 comment:

Kass said...

I considered going Sat., but didn't really have the time. Now I'm glad I didn't.