Sunday, December 9, 2012

Verdi's Masked Ball from the Metropolitan Opera

I wonder what  people think who are just being introduced to grand opera through the Metropolitan Opera simulcasts.   As the photo suggests we have two men, very serious. In fact, the man on the right is the king (which in this production is  bit hard to tell since it's in modern dress and he mostly wears a morning suit. The man on the right is his best friend until that good old code of honor gets in the way when the friend's wife and the king admit their love for one another.  Although each plans to forego any kind of consumation  (except for a very authentic looking kiss  in a sinister graveyard). The plot is hard to follow; the set is modern, stripped down, the costumes are formal but modern, the women's gowns suggest the 1940s.  his is a middle period Verdi opera when his republicant leanings mean trouble with the censors which lead to odd subject choices.  But he was attaining his great lyrical powers so this opera contains one of the truly great love duets and much other magnificant music. 

Still the story is disconcerting. The first scene seems almost like a Johan Strauss light opera, then we revert to the dark predictions of the gypsy Ulrica.  The drama convusles and grows darker, the king's personality is not very kingly. Amelia, the beloved, enters gowned and made up like a caniving woman from a 40s movie (she is supposed to be pure hearted but helplessly in love with the king -- we have no idea how this passion grew).  It's all prepostrous but the principles keep singing beautifully.  Will this gain an audience for the most difficult, and one of the most expensive, art forms in the West? 

I don't know about the rest of the country. I hope there are more young people in the many other theatres where this simulcast wa shown. Here I added my own to a sea of white hair.  I  wasn't very attentive but I did not see anyone younger than 45 and that's a guess.  I have had mixed feelings about the many new productions set in modern times or in surrealistic times (like their new La Traviata which I saw last April and despised).  I certainly wish Gennral Director Peter Gelb all success in his efforts to secure a younger, nationwide or even worldwide audience.  But this confusing opera with its strangely angelic winged messenger and the menacing skull headed masks at the ball and the men in black with their black wings  seems to me unlikely to appeal  to any audience except the already devoted. It seems a bit geared to a goth audience but I'm certain those of the goth leaning do not attend opera.

1 comment:

Ladydy5 aka: Diane Yates said...

It's a different time! God bless us white hairs!