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Subject: Re: Zeffirelli (was Re: Worst staging nominations)
From: Roger Brunyate <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Roger Brunyate <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 22 Dec 2017 15:48:15 -0500
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Thanks, Max, for your balanced view.

I would not do without the Zeffirelli *Cavalleria*, for example, for there
is no better way of showing what *verismo* is really about; there was a
whole world on that stage. On the other hand, I greatly admired the recent
McVicar production, because with virtually nothing, and setting the whole
thing in a barn, he managed to say something deep and timeless about the
bonds of ritual and tradition in such a community. I did not like his
*Pagliacci* nearly as much, because it was about surface, not substance.

As a former assistant director, I can tell you that the old museum pieces
present a terrific challenge to keeping successive productions fresh. You
can't simply do it the way one of your predecessors has written it down in
the book; you have to allow for the singers' creativity while sticking to
the ethos of the original production. It is terribly difficult, and very
few companies can retain that standard over more than a few years.

Roger.

On Fri, Dec 22, 2017 at 3:33 PM, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Roger Brunyate wrote:
>
> "But what were once fresh and interesting productions, benefiting from his
> incredible sense
> of period and eye for detail, have become fossilized museum pieces."
>
> My objection to Later Zeffirelli was not that his productions were "museum
> pieces" - nothing
> wrong with that, if the production is a good one, and in these times a
> museum piece new
> production might be a real novelty.  Productions like his "Falstaff,"
> "Cav/Pag" or "Otello"
> would be particularly welcome today, and his "Boheme" and "Turandot" are
> still magnificent.
> Although as the NYT critic wrote when the latter premiered, it had "all
> the emotional impact
> of a night at the Ice Capades."  But then, I think "Turandot" is a rather
> empty work anyway,
> although very effective when performed well, so I think Zeff's
> over-the-top glitz works for
> the opera.
>
> The problem with Zeffirelli's later productions at the Met was that they
> were ponderous and
> empty excess without any real drama.  The later "Carmen," Traviata," and
> "Don Giovanni,"
> were all examples of this.  And the "Tosca" really started the problem,
> with that pointless,
> showy elevator scene change in Act III.
>
> But - it must be acknowledged that even when bloated with excess,
> Zeffirelli's productions
> usually guaranteed a full house, which was very important for the
> company's bottom line.
>
> MDW
>
>

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