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Subject: Re: 10/22 MET NORMA
From: kurt youngmann <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:kurt youngmann <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 12 Oct 2017 17:10:22 -0500

text/plain (33 lines)

In 1997, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Norma approached, but did not exceed, the company's all-time low in production level. (That honor goes to a Rigoletto that was so awful and off-track that it defies description! It was almost as preposterously idiotic as the Calixto Bieto production, somewhere in Europe, of Ballo in which the conspirators were seen sitting on toilets defecating while reading newspapers).

This Norma was so completely wrong that it makes you wonder why management even considered staging it. The opera is time and date specific: Gaul, about 50 B.C.E. The Romans have occupied the land and have subjugated the inhabiting Druids. For some reason, whoever dreamt up this production decided that the opera would be better served if the action was moved up to Napoleonic era France, a time that saw very few Druids left there. Best estimate is that there were perhaps 2 or 3… 

Lyric, along with other companies, has often defied time and logic. Capriccio, for example, was moved up by LOC to the early 20th century even though baroque composers are discussed as contemporaneous with the action. The Met’s recent Manon Lescaut is time-shifted to WWII. So how in hell does a Nazi vessel transport Manon and des Grieux to “the desert of Louisiana” in 1944??? Tosca has been mucked about with as occurring during WWII even though it absolutely and specifically happens on 17 June 1800. (No, not the 15th; the news of the Battle of Marengo, which took place on that date wouldn’t have reached Rome until 2 days hence).

So the opera companies are trying to make operas relevant? Perhaps today’s young people are geographically and historically ignorant to fall for it but enough of us older and smarter folks have sense enough to recognize idiocy. And we, for the most part, are still the ones who buy tickets.

Kurt Youngmann

> On Oct 12, 2017, at 2:49 PM, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Call me a traditionalist, but I think it's always nice to see a set that bears *some* 
> semblance to the actual setting - as much as is practical, of course. So yes, if the setting 
> is a forest, I think we should see something that gives us the sense of a forest.

“A word to the wise is not sufficient if it doesn’t make sense." - James Thurber

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