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Subject: a recollection of Santa Fe's L'Amour de Loin (reposted from 2002)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 2 Dec 2016 10:45:20 -0500

text/plain (30 lines)

My reasons for not going to see the opera are indeed pretty clear, so sadly I will miss out on the Met production. Also my busy schedule really prohibits it at this time.

But I felt reposting my remarks from 14 years ago might be of interest....

Last night's second performance of L'Amour de Loin in the USA was much more difficult for me. I found the music quite enjoyable for the most part. The set (by George Tsypin)with its huge pool of water covering the entire stage and two spiral staircases on either side representing the two worlds of the two lovers (Aquitaine & Tunisia) was stunning. The spirals had embedded lights in them (like giant diamonds) that often sparkled so bright they blinded us! The rear of the stage was open for the entire first act so you could see the beautiful hills in the rear and the colors of sunset (definitely not a quality of Aquitaine, but who cares) and the soft wind caused ripples in the pool. A large canoe-shaped boat with neon lights in it offered the Pilgrim's mode of transport between the two worlds. At times, but especially in the last moments, the magnifcent lighting reflecting off the water over the ceiling of the ENTIRE opera house in a rippling effect was stupendous!
The almost mystical music (conducted by Robert Spano) with many bells sounded oriental at times, and the chorus repeated the same feeling. They were split between men and women on either side of the stage in the areas outside of the theater, so that they were around the 5th-10 rows of the house and raise up on the sides. The men were left (the side of Jauffre Rudel), the women were ride (the side of Clemence). As the opera progressed I disliked the hissing "ssss" sounds they made more often. I thought they were getting too snake-like.
The two lovers were excellently sung by Gerald Finlay and Dawn Upshaw, their costumes(by Martin Pakledinaz) simple and really unexciting. Findley's Rudel seemed to be obsessed and affected right from the start; an almost mental case of some sort (note direction by PETER SELLARS). I liked this alot as it made me feel for the character. Indeed his agitation often made me into a nervous wreck! Upshaw's Clemence was more aloof until the final act where she broke loose after Rudel's death on his arrival in Tunisia.
The one word that really seems to characterize the music is "hypnotic," and a 2hours 15 minutes with NO intermissions, it just seemed a bit too tedious for me.
The Pilgrim of Monica Groop gave us am impressive portrayal, although she looked like a mercenary instead of a Pilgrim.
I am glad to have seen this work, but I can't say I would rush to see it again, as I would LITTLE WOMEN(which was performed the day prior).

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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