Skip to comments.An Opera Staple Takes a Stark Turn at the Met
Posted on 09/22/2009 7:49:40 AM PDT by Captain Jack Aubrey
The Met opened its season on Monday night with a new production of Puccini’s “Tosca” by the adventurous Swiss-born director Luc Bondy. When Mr. Bondy and the production team appeared on stage during curtain calls, the audience erupted in boos. If there were cheers among the jeers, they were drowned out.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
people take their opera seriously
Botching Tosca is a very serious offense. It is a wonderful opera.
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Opera audiences have been known to tear the seats up and set them on fire, when they didn’t like the staging. Wagner was attacked because he put the ballet in the first act of “Tannheuser,” while the audiences preferred it in the second act, so they could arrive late and still see the ballet.
The review makes it sound absolutely dreadful. Perhaps the designer should have tried making a movie, like “Romeo + Juliet” with Leonardo di Caprio and Clare Danes. Then he could have used the author’s material as a showcase for his own ego without making a live audience furious.
I have boo’d at bastardized operas here in Los Angeles. They put folks in underpants, or minimize the staging, or add their own interpretations, even in Mozart. They set it up just right — you clap separately for the singers and then the stage director (or whatever he’s called). That’s when I booed.
My friend sings in the chorus. She said that people are HATING the ‘trendy’ stuff. But the PR folks told me ‘everybody LOVES it.’
The Swiss loser deserved it for trying to make a classic staple into some avant garde statement.
I took a semester course on Wagner opera in college. Fascinating subject.
Don’t mess with what works!!
I hate it when someone tries to put their spin on a classic!
There are lots of monied people who go to operas just to feel elite and sophisticated. They have no understanding or appreciation of the music. They are the same people who clap between movements during a symphony.
Was it the same production featured in the recent James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace”? If so, I can understand...
Heh heh heh...
Wagner was a genius. He knew how to capture the whole sound and passion of opera. But due to some little corporal Wagners name will be forever tarnished as a Nazi! Even though he lived 60+ years before Hitlers time.
Two of the most awesome experiences of my life was seeing my first Wagner Opera, Lohengrin and going to Bayrueth and seeing Wagners home.. Just loved it.
In Europe, opera directors have been doing the same thing for decades: everyone in black, stark expressionistic sets, lots of sex. Yawn. They get booed at every curtain call even by the Europeans!
I’ve seen Bayreuth only on TV. We saw “Tannheuser” in Tulsa, and it was very enjoyable. It wasn’t the full opera (I knew from my class ;-), but we’d left a baby with a sitter, so I really didn’t mind its not being almost 4 hours!
Hardcore opera fans tend to be very picky and demanding. It doesn’t take much to turn them into hooligans.
Almost no one arrives late at the Met. If you're not there at Post Time, they don't let you in until intermission or a scenery change break.
well i hate the jived up junk...and dont consider it opera.
Houston was like that, too. I was with a friend who has Chronic Lateness, and we had to watch the first act of “Turandot” on a monitor in the lobby.
However, during Wagner’s lifetime, the Parisian upper crust would arrive at the opera late - or so my dear old professor said, and he was nearly old enough to have been there!
Hard to screw up Tosca, but they managed. The description of the sets sounds more like Kafka than Puccini. I don’t blame the audience. I know how they feel. I have seen Viaggio a Reims in a 1950s setting, and PBS broadcast a Rigoletto several years ago that featured topless women dancing around the Duke of Mantua. Nasty.
My mother was a close friend of the family. I saw the entire Ring at Bayreuth when I was 14. The staging was extraordinary, and even years ago was avant-garde by U.S. standard, but really worked.
re Tosca, Peter Gelb is the former headof Sony Classical, has no experience with opera performance, and no business being there.
The Wagner operas are so long, I don’t know if I’d make it through a complete one live, especially “Parsifal.” Fortunately, with recorded performances, we don’t have to take it in one sitting!
In any case, why shouldn't people boo if they didn't like a production? It's tradition. And it's not like the back-benchers rushing the stage and assaulting the tenor for botching his job like they do in Italy.
There is a centuries long tradition of booing at operas, tenors in particular. And laughing at fat sopranos during certain scenes in “La Boheme”.
In Parma a good put down of a singer yelled from the audience would make it into the papers and would make you a household name until the next opera fan fired off the next good one.
It is one of my dreams to spend a month in Italy spending the days eating pasta and the nights attending operas. A week in Parma would be good.
Sounds like a dream vacation.
I have bood at bastardized operas here in Los Angeles.
I BOO’D THE “PARSIFAL” THEY DID HERE IN 2005, AND WHEN THE LA TIMES GAVE IT A GOOD REVIEW, I WENT BALLISTIC IN A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE CALENDAR SECTION. (TO MY GREAT SURPRISE, THEY PRINTED IT.)
Some of the productions here at the LA Opera have been simply horrible; ultimately, we let our subscription lapse.
Yet “non ho amato mai tanto la vida.”
Are you guys in Chicago responsible for that too! I don't remember if the Met is doing DA this year but they did it last year. I listened to it for about four minutes.
I have a general rule not to attend any performance unless the composer has been dead for a hundred years or so. It's not that I deny the possibility of something good being composed today, but the filter of time has a way of getting rid of the DAs.
My mother, sister, and I went to see a production of Cats on Broadway. Horrible. I knew it was a mistake to go to an afternoon production, but we couldn't make the evening show. Second rate signing, second rate acting. Ugh.
Saturday evening performances are the best, always.
Opera, musical theater, symphonies, are meant to captivate and move the spirit, encapsulating you for a brief period of time in a unique and adsorbing experience.
When you start thinking about your "to do" list or checking your watch, the production has failed. It's like paying for a rental car that stalls every time you come to a red light.
By the end of the ride, most folks would be furious, too.
If I remember correctly, it’s San Fransisco that inflicted that opera on the rest of us.
Have you ever seen “Nixon in China”? Houston Opera was running that the same season with the “Turandot” I saw, but I couldn’t get off work (to drive to Houston from San Antonio).
From the description of the production, this production seems to have been a thorough hack job.
I would have booed too. It sounds awful.
Was Leonard Pinth-Garnell the Master of Ceremonies?
No. It's not for me. (I've hears snippets. And it would violate my dead composer rule.)
I also would like to take side trip to the Bayerishe Statsoper in Munich. I have a lot of their recordings under the label “Black Dog Opera” and they are artistically solid and technically great. Wanna throw some money in the till, so to speak.
You don't have to be a hardcore fan to be disgusted when the sacreligious trash a beautiful work of art.
A tenor at La Scala sang a particularly challenging aria. To his surprise, the audience rose to its feet, stamping, cheering, and shouting ‘bravo!’ Naturally, he repeated the piece. Then, the same response from the audience. So he did it again. Once more, prolonged, thunderous applause.
Finally, he addressed his throng of admirers:
“My beloved fellow music lovers. I am deeply humbled by your warm reception of my efforts here tonight. But please, I must reserve what remains of my energies for the remainder of the performance, which will now proceed. Once again, I stand in awe, and admitted puzzlement, at this tumultuous response!”
A voice was heard to rise from the audience: “You’ll do it again until you get it right!”
I love opera audiences.
My wife broke both her legs and after a month or so of healing we decided that our first night out was to be at the University of Houston Opera. We made our way down the steps of the theatre, she on crutches and me on the step below ready to catch her if she fell. A woman who was sitting in an aisle seat leaned over as we passed by and said: “You go girl! Nothing can keep us from the opera!”
Couple of rows broke up in laughter.
I listened to the entire Tosca broadcast on XM sat radio last night. The singing was excellent. The orchestra sound great, one of the best Toscas I have heard.
However, I was shocked at the booing at the curtain call for the production staff. The audience went nuts for the singers and James Levine but then the designer and producer came out and it sounded like George Bush just walked in.
Here is a recording of the curtain calls. The booing starts about after about 2 minutes. Keep in mind, these are men in tuxedos and women in long gowns.
look what has happened to the national anthem. this will continue as long as people dont have to care about criticism and get grants and funding for having no talent.
By the way, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra played the National Anthem prior to the opera, as they alway do on opening night.
The opera house was full of opera singers; former, current and would-be. Thousands sang along loudly and it was truly thrilling to hear.
that sounds inspiring