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Subject: GUILLAUME TELL at the Met - major cuts since they cancelled the show after 2nd intermission--Gesler lives, Tell is carried off and I am not happy (10-29-16)
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Date:Sun, 30 Oct 2016 04:02:49 +0000
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The Saturday matinee was off to a good start, despite the odd production, but nobody expected the opera to end early with them sending us home. 
  
Production-Pierre Audi 
Set-George Tsypin 
Costumes-Andrea Schmidt-Futterer 
Choreography-Kim Brandstrup 
  
Conductor-Fabio Luisi 
Tell-Gerald Finley 
Arnold-Bryan Hymel 
Mathilde-Marina Rebeka 
Gesler-John Relyea 
Jemmy-Janai Brugger 
Hedwige-Maria Zifchak 
Rodolphe-Sean Panikkar 
Melcthal-Kwangchul Youn 
Ruodi-Michele Angelini 
Walter-Marco Spotti 
Leuthold-Michael Todd Simpson 
Huntsman-Ross Benoliel 
  
On arrival to the house, there was a scrim replacing the curtain, as is so common in many new productions. This had two large white blobs at the top and bottom with a blue background and seemed to represent nothing and even after watching 3/4 of the opera seemed to make no sense of have no connection to the production; a waste of money for sure. 
During the first part of the overture we could see through the scrim to Tell who stood over the body of Jemmy on a ledge to the left which had an arrow through his chest. Had he killed Jemmy; was this a dream. No explanation. Tells clothing was somewhat Biblical with long flowing kaftan-like coat and virtually all the Swiss were drab colors. There were large rocks as well; another flashback to the previous night's Jenufa. 
The center of the stage had a huge suspended boat frame will rocks also in the belly(ballast?). 
I love the joke about the chorus Chinese-like hats as a mistake for thinking the Swiss Canton was something Cantonese!! The scrim went dark again and then rose to reveal the entire set with mirrored sides left and right and a wavy watery dark background. I loved the agate suspended flat slab that had a fake sheep and cow on top and also mirrored on the bottom. It was neat art and a cool effect, but made NO sense whatsoever. 
We learned quickly that the Swiss were drab gray and the invaders in black leathery silvery outfits. 
We had recently heard Mr. Angelini with Washington Concert Opera and his tenor was just as sweet here in the serenade. As he finished and pushed his unseen boat off, the agate slab with animals and giant boat moved up. There was a long ceremony for the 3 couples getting married who were dancers which included Meltchtal breaking 3 loaves. I would have thought that breaking a loaf would symbolize breaking up, not marriage. 
After this, three large A-frame rolling wooden contraptions moved on each with a different flat rock on top of it as well as the invader guards who beat back the Swiss chorus. 
We were now about 35minutes into the opera and save the serenade, I was ready for some good singing and loved the opening section for Mr. Hymel and then the duet with Ms. Rebeka. Both were in solid and luscious voice and the audience responded appropriately. I did worry that there was still four hours left, but then that issue never materialized with the Act IV cancellation. 
There was another ceremony for the 3 wedded couples enrobing on the platforms and then doing something with three men with canes and old man masks. Anyone have a clue? 
The crowd was again interrupted by Gesler's men, and I began to notice that smoke was often hovering over the set; that can't have been good for the singers. It reappeared often throughout the show. 
Panikkar's nasty Rodolphe was great with a silvery breastplate and shiny pants, coat to the ground but slit at the front. 
  
We returned after the first break for Acts II & III, which timed in at about 1 hour 45mins, but did not seem that long save for the ballet. 
There were three vertical pillars that seemed to be lit from within, they were white here and very bright and made a good effect. More boulders and ledges abounded. Ms. Rebeka all in black with a miniature top hat, veil, mask and riding crop wowed the house with "Sombre foret" and then was joined in the extended scena by Mr. Hymel which was simply exquisite singing. 
In the ensuing scene Tell confronts Arnold in another superb duet as Arnold's now dead father is borne in on a plank (shrouded). 
The three Swiss armies arrive and the act ends with a valiant chorale burst. 
Act III had a scrim with a blurred arch for the opening duet with Ms. Rebeka, now in white and Mr. Hymel. I gather the scrim was for the big scene change going on in back, but there was often so much noise from that it did become bothersome, especially when I was the only one to laugh at Arnold's "Quel bruit?" -what's that noise- right after a yell came forth from the stage. 
The scrim rose and there was now a red lit pillar and rear with the wooden A frames back with another one with a chair/throne on the top that both Messrs. Relyea and Panikkar had to keep climbing up and down, which did not look easy n those long cloaks. 
A group of "nobles" arrived dressed all in black and my best description of them is a cross between the Ascot crowd in "My Fair Lady," a Victorian funeral and some folks from "Wicked!" all having gone Goth. They were actually dancers and we had an awful ballet which could have easily been cut, and then Jemmy's aria could have been retained!! Two of the women grabbed their riding crops against the male soldier dances in a dominatrix way. Some Swiss folks dancers are also pulled into the fray and this seemed to go on endlessly making me wish they had a dinner service during the ballet as was done in the grand opera houses when this was composed. 
We finally got to a beautiful ensemble for Tell, Jemmy, Rodolphe & Gesler who had arrived in a black silvery costume as well with a black cap and a partial "Phantom" mask to match; he looked really creepy. The chorus joined and the effect was perfection. 
Tell's "Sois immobile" was gorgeous as well with a heartfelt, "songe a ta mere" but I was very disappointed when there was no arrow from his bow and the apple merely fell off Jemmy's head. Maybe a flash would of light or such would have hidden this cheap approach to the climax of the act, if not the entire opera. The huge finale was great with the Swiss and invaders facing each other off as Tell is tied to the bottom of the throne/chair contraption with Gesler on top. Mathilde arrives to save Jemmy, but Tell is still held as Arnold appears at the top on the boat frame (did I say that had come back) and then the curtain fell. 
The intermission for the last act was slated as 40 minutes, even with the last act only a mere 26 minutes. After about 43 minutes someone came out to say there would be a delay. Another 15 minutes passed and he reappeared only after the audience has started to applaud, make noise and yell. 
We were told the problem was not safe for the opera to continue and we started to file out amidst boos as he said we could get another ticket for another performance. Many of us come from out of town and that just isn't possible, so I would assume the Met will have some complaint calls coming in the next week! 
I was devastated to miss Arnold's great final aria and even moreso might not sleep tonight knowing that Gesler is alive somewhere. 
Rumor on line has it that some white powder was left on the podium and the timpani and the house was evacuated. 
Maybe they will write an opera about this...but please drop the ballet. 
Here's one write up on the cancellation,and now we have reports that it was someone sprinkling the ashes of a deceased person....MORE operatic material.  
http://slippedisc.com/2016/10/breaking-met-opera-cancels-final-act-of-william-tell/ 
  
ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC 


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