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Subject: Re: Guth's "Lost in Space" "La Boheme" for Paris
From: gordon young <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:gordon young <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 17 Dec 2017 10:53:48 -0600

text/plain (125 lines)

Last night I watched the Paris Opera Boheme.  With these re-imaginings
there is a tendency to create odd inconsistencies that the designer
overlooks or is unable to resolve. The same thing happens in more
traditional productions as well. It is probably because I have been seeing
and hearing operas for 60 years that I tend to be more critical than I was
as an opera newbie.

Being a visual artist the visuals in a production are probably as the
important to me as the musical. If the stage picture is badly done I have a
difficult time concentrating on the music. For me this production has many

At about 12 I purchased a piano vocal score of the Boheme and played it on
the piano sometimes several times a day.  As an innocent I was able to sing
all roles and identify with each character. It was also one of the first
operas I saw performed. I cried throughout last night no tears. The concept
overpowered the music and the drama.

For me the most serious flaw was the lack of a clear definition between the
two time frames and spaces. There would be several ways to illustrate the
concept. The use of scrims to create the space of the astronauts as
different from the space of Mimi and her friends would have made the
concept clearer. Too often the characters inhabited the same physical space
on the stage denying the director’s essential concept. Projections also
could have helped. I felt this most strongly in Act 3. If a projection of
the Paris streets where Mimi and Marcello meet, over top of the “lunar”
landscape would create the sense that Rudolfo was remembering the event and
for me it would have made a more interesting visual.

The final act was the most problematic! What was the concept behind
treating it like a variety show with the characters popping in and out of
the “curtain” to sing their piece … and the introduction of the ridiculous
mime ... These concepts lessened the emotional construct so carefully
created by Puccini.

In Puccini’s opera Mimi dies in this production it is Rudolfo who dies as
Mimi walks through the lunar landscape with her candle.  Which brings up,
for me, another problematic directorial concept. What is the general time
frame of the Mimi scenes? If the astronauts’ scenes are in the near future
and the astronauts are in their, maybe, 30s that sets the Mimi parts in the
21st would she use a candle, a flashlight or a smart phone to find her way.

These are just a few of the conceptual decisions that gave me pause.


On Sat, Dec 16, 2017 at 8:27 PM, G. Paul Padillo <[log in to unmask]>

> Twice this week I turned off the Met for other operatic options.  "Death
> in Venice"
> substituted for "The Merry Widow" and today, Claus Guth's controversial
> "Lost in Space"
> "Boheme" from Paris knocked "Norma" out of today's lineup.
> From the silent opening, until the silence and black out of the end, I've
> not been so moved
> by a "Boheme" in years.  Shattered, is a better description of how I felt
> afterwards.
> I understand the opening night audience booed lustily, catcalling the
> production, but
> apparently subsequent performances have been met with nothing but cheers.
> I understand
> why.
> Visually, it was 100% a knock out feast for the eyes.  The ingenuity of
> the cast, well,
> actually Mr. Guth's, to recreate memories of their youth on earth, while
> hurtling towards
> death in a doomed spaceship had, at times a the "let's put on a show,"
> variety, using
> everything they had (including an already dead former crew member) to
> relive happier -
> and not so happy - times.  The explanations of the space journal,
> describing rationing of air,
> water and food aided in the hallucinatory nature of the storytelling.
> Musically, it was near perfection, aside from Ms. Cabal dropping off the
> "C" at the end of the
> first act - which actually worked, leaving Rodolfo alone.  Atalla Ayan was
> her doomed
> Rodolfo and he is as appealing in this role - and in this concept - as any
> Rodolfo I can recall
> of recent vintage.  Dudamel belied his youth and relative lack of operatic
> experience making
> it feel it was Puccini's blood flowing through his veins.
> I also could not always understand what I was seeing, but it only added a
> "newness" to a
> work I know every bar of.  This reminded me of how moved we can be by
> something
> without knowing or understanding why.
> Hours later I'm still shaken by this beautiful performance.
> p.
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