Opera Directors. Phooey ....

I really shouldn't read the news. It often irritates me. And leads to me producing the following, which is likely RIFE with typos and grammar problems, in addition to being really long winded.

After reading the link above, you may well think "hey, look ... MRD is veering into politics in the pointless section." Politics and politics in many ways seem to go hand in hand.

Oh, but wait ... why should I sully the purity of this website, so heavily concerned with things artistic, with crass politics? There's a non-political way of responding to this article.

How, you may ask, MRD, will you move the statements of the leader of a world power AWAY from politics?

Well, here's how ...

HEY, Mr. Director Guy ... Hans Neuenfels, the factoid sheet tells me ... what is the great purpose to including the severed heads of Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha in this production? Neptune, I can perhaps understand the decapitation of Poseidon, given Poseidon has a role in the opera, and as a symbol of humankind moving away from religion, destroying the need for the concept of a god. But the others? Doesn't make sense (especially given Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad DIDN'T EXIST during the period of Classical Greece), although I'm sure it seems clever to someone ... not me though.

According to another report, here's how the staging works ... "In the epilogue, Idomeneo, the king of Crete, comes on stage comes on stage with a bloody sack in his hand. He then pulls the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed out of the sack and places them triumphantly on four chairs." Sweet ... I get it ... a human killed the gods. We wouldn't want anyone to miss a subtext of the opera, so let's go ham-handed shall we? Additionally, let's ignore the fact that only POSEIDON is actually a god ... Jesus is part of the trinity if i recall my Christianity, where Muhammad is a prophet (equating him with divinity makes you an APOSTATE if you're a person of the Book, and just plain rudely ignorant if you're not) and Buddha a teacher only. So clever, yet theologically WRONG. Even I, not a theologian, know this. I also know you don't have to slam a subtext in people's faces, unless you think they can't think. Which is likely the case, but I always figure artists should encourage thought, not make it unnecessary.

I always figure, if you want to re-make a story, REMAKE IT. You want to re-do Romeo and Juliet in New York ... write West Side story, so you don't have some weird issue where the text of a piece says one thing and the stage action contradicts it.

I'll use an example ... Atom Egoyan's direction of Richard Strauss's Salome in Toronto in the 1990s. The dance of the Seven Veils became a scene where Herodes RAPED Salome. Radically different than the text called for (Oscar Wilde never had her RAPED), and a sequence of events that made it somewhat unlikely that ...

a) the other party guests who were SUPPOSED to be onstage at this point wouldn't have reacted to.

b) I'm pretty sure that Herodias, Salome's mother, might have complained. Considering complaining is about all she did throughout, that seems likely.

c) Salome might have been a little less likely to make out with a head after being raped.

Perhaps I'm missing the point, perhaps I should have cognized this scene differently ... but perhaps EGOYAN WAS MISSING THE POINT. You want to use the Salome story to actualize the lust of Herodes, do you? WELL .. do your own! Strauss didn't need anything other than the dance and the stage action to get this across, nor did Oscar Wilde. Of course, neither Strauss or Wilde could have imagined having guys in suits walking on stage with video cameras, apparently recording all the action. I'm sure Egoyan had something to say about a security state or something, but I sure didn't want to hear it in that context. Make your own movie BASED on the story if you've got something to add, but leave Strauss's version of Wilde alone. Thanks ...

I'll say the same to opera directors, and probably stage directors to. I've seen some out-there re-stagings of pieces that WORKED (I think first of the film version of Richard III starring Ian McKellen, where the move to 1930s Britain worked ... even the "My Kingdom for a horse" didn't seem out of place, even in a 1930s urban wasteland, given the film established the historical reality that horses were still in limited use in military roles at the time), so I can't oppose CREATIVE reinterpretation, which is what performances are all about. However, reinterpretation that doesn't make sense, that breaks the illusion, or disrupts the illusion created by an opera unnecessarily, well ... it should just not happen.

You've got a radical retelling to do, director types, make YOUR OWN PIECE (again back to film ... Akira Kurosawa had something to say in a retelling of King Lear ... but it took a big rewrite to fit it into feudal Japan in Ran ... he didn't stint on the work though). Oh wait, you probably can't, for reasons of ability, finance, or viability. You're stuck as a parasite on someone else's work, defacing it to make yourself look good. Glad I didn't eat before writing this, 'cause I feel ill thinking about it.

And, based on the COC production of the Ring Cycle, I'd have to say ...

"Hey, Wotan ... Valhalla is a total dump. Never hire the Fasolt and Fafner brothers as architects again ... although they're pretty funny contractors, what with trying to kill each other after finishing the drywalling ... "

Why not do something pointless yourself,like, for example, coming up with a response to the above and filling it in in the form that you will see if you click the link following ... contact MRD ... for any reason ...

If you got here by some garbage link in a search, you can always go see the main MRDe-music homepage.
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