I feel like reacting to one point in Jane's interesting topic, regarding
the current Met production.
It is interesting to see how the work was originally staged, when it had
its world premiere, at the Met, in 1918. I wasn't there, of course, but
I know of a rather revealing picture, reproduced in the operatic New Grove
(entry : SUOR ANGELICA). Based on that picture (which shows the Miracle),
it would seem that the staging was quite different from what one sees
nowadays - there was a crowd behind the chapel doors! Not only the Virgin
Mary was standing there, but also a rather large group of angels - some
of them playing music, some of them in prayer, some of them dancing in
the background (!!!). What's interesting, though, is that none of those
people (not even the Virgin) was really prominent (although she is
standing in the middle and is slightly taller than the rest, as befits a
lady of her standing). The true hero of the scene was the child.
Apparently, the staging (in a production designed by Pietro Stroppa) was
as follows : the door were flung open, and the child appeared, prominent
in the foreground, with the Virgin and the angels standing behind he; both the
Virgin and the angels were standing still while the child walked out of
the chapel, and then down a couple of steps, in the waiting hands of
Geraldine Farrar, kneeling outside. No big stage effect (as far I can
see), something very simple, a bit eerie, will all the attention focussed
on the mother-child relationship.
Pierre M. Bellemare
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