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Subject: Re: Guth's "Lost in Space" "La Boheme" for Paris
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Mon, 18 Dec 2017 14:35:32 -0500

text/plain (64 lines)

Mr. Liebert wrote:  

"Color me naïve, but when I go to see Puccini's La Boheme I want to see Puccini's La 
Boheme the way Puccini imagined it would be performed.  (Okay maybe he didn't imagine 
250 people on stage for the Café Momus scene, but it clearly fulfills his intent.) A Star Wars 
version of La Boheme should be called something else the same way West Side Story is not 
called Romeo and Juliet."

* * * * *

Why should anyone call you naïve?  You like what you like and no excuses need be made.  
My problem is those who don’t enjoy a director’s work, no one else should – or damn it as 
disrespecting to the composer.  Trust me, most composers would be tickled pink to know 
their work is performed, admired, loved and discussed long after their deaths.  They’ve 
created works of lasting power that crosses time 0 in many instances, centuries.
To insist a different staging should be called something else, one must really come up with a 
better choice than “West Side Story.”  First, of all, Shakespeare borrowed heavily from 
“Romeus and Juliet,” which predates his telling by some four decades.  Second, Bernstein 
and company move the story up about half a millennia, gives them all different names, 
changes the locale and ethnicities of the characters, and tells the story through song and 
dance.  Of COURSE it gets a different title – it’s a different work entirely.  

Guth’s production of Boheme still has the lovers in Paris, still has everyone intact, uses the 
same libretto and score, so why should it be called anything but “La Boheme?”  Rodolfo, 
near death, is remembering the story and relays it with fairly faithful attention to the 
libretto.  He sings nothing extra, there is no extra music, the descriptions of where they are 
and what’s going on, presented in his journal.  Such a “flashback” manner of telling a story 
is hardly new, but, as witnessed in Paris right now, highly effective and winning and moving 
audiences with tickets selling like the proverbial hot cakes, or in this instance . . . crepes.  

Mr. Wilson wrote:

“When I read a classic novel, do I want the settings, slang and milieu updated? Leave great 
art alone.”

I can only ask, how reading a classic novel can in any way be compared to seeing a movie, 
or play, or opera?  No one changes the words in "books" . . . they’re different beasts 
entirely.  Reading a book EVERYONE gets to play the director seeing it in his or her own 
light.  By the above argument, all performance-based art based on literature should have to 
be called something else.  And what of narrowing down a work of, say 800 pages into a two 
and a half hour movie or three hour opera?  I recently watched a lovely 2002 film of 
“Nicholas Nickelby” which pared down the novel, tightened plot lines, removed characters, 
but the story is still there and, movingly told.  Is this then a bastardization that should not 

I hold to my guns with my earlier post:  art is evolutionary by its very nature, it stands still 
for no one, even if we try to nail it down.  The only way it can stay the same is by our 
refusing to breathe new life into it, thus killing it.  


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