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Toutes ses chroniques .15
A gender-bending Ariodante is superb in its Salzburg revivalIlana Walder-Biesanz
To inspire his production of Handel’s Ariodante for the Salzburg Festival, director Christof Loy turned to a novel that shares a name with the opera’s source material (Ariosto’s Orlando furioso): Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. He makes no secret of this source, as quotes from Orlando (in Italian, for the sake of linguistic continuity) interrupt the overture and precede the third act. The concept is both consistent and effective. A mishmash of costume time periods from...
An overwhelming Wozzeck in SalzburgIlana Walder-Biesanz
There is always something happening in William Kentridge’s staging of Wozzeck. It can be hard to know what to look at—the supernumeraries creeping around in gas masks? The improbably piled-up junk that serves as a set? The charcoal drawings projected as backdrops? The little videos than range from absurd cartoons to scenes of abuse? It almost doesn’t matter. All these elements work together to create a cohesive atmosphere haunted by war and poverty. The production has...
The wrong cast for I due Foscari in SalzburgIlana Walder-Biesanz
Verdi’s I due Foscari is a definite contender for the title of “least dramatic opera”. Not much happens: the younger Foscari (Jacopo) is sent back into exile by the Venetian Council of Ten and dies on the way. His wife Lucrezia pleads and suffers, in vain. Led by the Foscaris’ enemy, Jacopo Loredano, the Council also votes to remove the older Foscari (Francesco) from his position as Doge. This double grief kills him. Despite his role as the antagonist, Loredano...
Boldly rewritten, Tito condemns the war on terrorIlana Walder-Biesanz
In Peter Sellars’ new production of La clemenza di Tito, whenever Sesto says “traditor” (“traitor”) in his end-of-act-one recitativo accompagnato, the supertitles read “terrorist”. This may seem like a small detail, but it’s emblematic of Sellars’ and Currentzis’s audacious reworking of Mozart’s opera. Sesto’s treason is personal, a crime against his friend and father figure Tito. Terrorism is general—the...
An explosive Lady Macbeth in SalzburgIlana Walder-Biesanz
Shostakovich’s final opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, has had a rocky history. It was a smash hit when first performed in 1934, but it was officially condemned by the Communist Party two years later for its sympathetic portrayal of a triple murderess. Nowadays, it hovers on the fringes of the standard repertoire (barely making it into Operabase’s 100 most-performed works globally last season). It’s exciting to see it newly staged at the Salzburg Festival this...
A memorable Met gala looks backwardsIlana Walder-Biesanz
On May 7th, the Metropolitan Opera threw a special gala to celebrate 50 years at the “new Met” in Lincoln Center. The design of the new Met has been debated and criticized since its construction, but one thing is certain: it has been an artistic home to many of the world’s greatest singers. They were there in full force and full voice on Sunday for this nostalgic celebration. Angela Meade, Michael Fabiano, Günther Groissböck sing “Qual...