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Subject: Bernheimer/Met Productions
From: Nuala Hallinan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Nuala Hallinan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 7 Apr 2001 13:52:56 -0400
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I'm just catching up with the last few day's postings.

Re Bernheimer Parsifal review:  I have no strong feelings about him one way
or the other, but I do think he must not have much use for the opera to have
chosen the words he used. Yes, they can be interpreted to mean his view of
the production only, but I doubt it. If he liked/loved/respected Parsifal, I
think he would have taken pains to differentiate between what he thought of
the production and the opera itself.  However you parse his sentences, and
whatever his intention, what *comes across* is a very negative, contemptuous
review by someone who loathes the opera.

Re Met productions:  All in all, I don't mind the Met's more literal,
"old-fashioned" productions. I would rather have them than, say, the
mechanistic Dr. Faustus this year, which worked against the music and made
nonsense of the libretto. I think the success of this year's excellent
Gambler has come not only from its fine cast, but also from its warm,
opulent, even though basically modular production, all green and gleaming
gold. I suspect that if the opera had been a stark production set in, let's
say, modern Las Vegas, it wouldn't have *felt* so right and the music would
have *felt* more jarring. It seems to me that what you see on the stage
affects how you *hear* the music.

Based on the few ultra modern productions I've seen in Europe, and on
descriptions and videos of many others, I will be quite happy if the Met
eschews this route.  Let the Met be a bastion of realistic productions! Why
not?  The Met Ring, for example, is a huge success just as it is. Why?
Because it supports the plot. (Yes, I know a good production that leaves
things to your imagination could work too. And yes, it would be nice if the
staging/blocking were worked on, but please, let us keep this production!  )
If people want to see something different, let 'em go elsewhere -- God
knows, they won't have to go far!  There is this sense out there that the
European approach to opera production is somehow better than the Met
approach. (I can't speak for other American houses.)  We consider the Met
"old-fashioned."  I think the Met management should have the courage of its
convictions and continue doing these kinds of productions. But that *does*
means doing them well -- and creatively! After so much of what goes on in
many other houses, I should think the Met is a breath of fresh air. Foreign
visitors who pour into the Met seem to think so too.

What is missing -- and this was true of much that I saw this year, in
particular the Dutchman and Fidelio -- is attention to blocking.  There
seems to be so much hapless meandering on the stage, even in new productions
-- these are the things that need attention at the Met. But please, let us
have our meadows of daisies!

Before the slings and arrows start, I should add that I have liked some
recent, more minimalist productions at the Met and thought they worked well.
I even liked the Wilson Lohengrin -- because for me, the production didn't
fight against the music, but literally illuminated it. Same for the Onegin,
to mention two recent productions that caused somewhat of an uproar at least
on Opera-L.

Nuala Hallinan
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