I am firmly convinced that while I can enjoy second rate Verdi
performances, e.g. most of them in SF and even amateur Wagner
SF Lyric Opera's Das Rheingold this past Monday that I only
enjoy Mozart's operas, especially the da Ponte's (excluding Cosi
which I will never see again) when they are done brilliantly.
I need a first rate cast, a superconducter who understands how
to pace Mozart's bumpy and overlong musical indulgences and a
stage director who is a genius. When that all comes together I
can really love Le Nozze di Figaro, and have numerous times since
1971, sort of enjoy Don Giovanni--I kept going back for more to
Glyndegourne the first year of the Hall production--it was the
naked violence that caught me and thrilled me.
As far as Cosi after skipping it every season Muti did it at
Salzburg I let 2 Italian friends convince me to give it a last
chance. I loved Bruscantini as Alfonso a role I dislike, I
enjoyed Battle's Despina because she could play herself (a little
thorn) but by the middle of the final act when that endless stream
of arias begin I had to bite my tongue. I find all M's scores
evaporate up their own assholes in the final 40mins to an hour.
He can't shape drama and he never knows when to stop...when to
stop...when to stop.
This happens to Figaro and Cosi, almost happens to Entfuehrung,
happens to uncut Flutes. Only Giovanni seems properly proprtioned
and thrilling from the moment Elvira enters with "L'ultima prove"
to the end. I could do without the moralizing ensemble...so could
Mozart--he dropped it in Wien. Figaro's garden scene drives me
nearly mad but I've enjoyed the rest so much I suffer through it
for the deceitful but brilliant "Perdonas".
Cosi becomes intolerable. Idomeneo and Titus are masterpieces
IMO which simply proves I prefer artificial classical tragedy
and opera seria to proto-veristic black comedy.
When Mozart is done brilliantly I find him a genius--when it's even
one notch lower down I find him a talented windbag who doesn't
get music-drama. One notch lower is torture and I leave.
Thank God I'm not so demanding of Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi,
Wagner, Richard Strauss and Handel. And I love world premiers
cause no one can tell whether they're working or not. As I
wrote Tom Kaufman--Vive la difference--that's true about opera
in every area...You say the Pav and I say Yawn!...I say Windgassen
and some of you get it. We all seem to get Wunderlich and a few
others BUT that's the point. We all get something and none of us
wants to "call the whole (or any of its parts) thing off."!
Michael Barclay, D.Lett. [log in to unmask]
Opera Education International/OEI, Berkeley, California
http://www.operalover.net Please visit our website soon.