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Subject: Re: The Met's New Barbiere
From: Jon Alan Conrad <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Alan Conrad <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 15 Nov 2006 11:47:39 -0500
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On Nov 15, 2006, at 11:33 AM, James Bodge wrote:

> The MET shares a rather common opinion that a 25 or more year old
> production tends to need replacing, if only because the physical
> production is in need of serious repair.  If the money is to be
> spent, one
> might as well start all over.

They decided to the contrary with the Zeffirelli FALSTAFF, spending
the money on refurbishing the extant designs; I wish they had done
this with the BARBIERE too. (And the Merrill/O'Hearn FRAU.)

> I would also add that in the early 1980s,
> when the previous production was new, it was much denigrated - and
> people
> lamented that the older production, dating from the mid 1950s, was no
> longer being used.

By some, perhaps. (The negativity I recall was not about designs, but
about the passing of the supersized Italian-opera personalities seen
in the previous production: the Corena-Siepi-Merrill combination, for
instance.) But there was also lots of praise for a beautiful and
ingenious production. It made better use of the Met's revolving stage
than almost any other production they've had (that FRAU would be
another such). It had a unique atmosphere, redolent of Spain's
contrasts of blazingly sunny and colorful exteriors and cool shadowed
interiors, many views of the house itself as it revolved to show ever-
new angles and rooms. And it really lent itself to vivid acting by a
variety of casts. And I recall several critics singling out these
features; there may well have been "denigration," but I seem to have
missed it.

I haven't seen the new production, so this is meant as no reflection
on it. But the now-defunct one should be given its due.


Jon Alan Conrad
Department of Music
University of Delaware

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