Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lucerne Opera

We'd come to Zurich partly hoping for some music but it seems we are a week ahead of the season so we wound up last night half an hour away at Lucerne for a performance of Mozaart's La Climenza di Tito.

Well, folks--as they say--it was an experience, though I don't mean that quite as bad as it sounds. Lucerne offered an array of young singers, with strong voices and good instincts for drama, if a bit light on technique--beaujolais nouveau on stage. Or at least "nouveau:" this is the first Tito I've ever seen where Tito winds up in a wedding dress and seems more eager to jump his best buddy than his intended bride (fact is, that wedding dress may need to be retired from overwork--it seemed to wind up on almost everybody in the cast at some point before the evening was over). I can think of at three ressons why you might do this sort of thing. One, the internal logic of the drama, although if thst was the case here it eluded me. Two, there seems to be a priciple among German impersarii that anything tht can be tried, must be tried (I remmeber a Così fan tutte done on what seemed to be on an old LP turntable, with trap doors). Three--maybe the most plausible and acceptable--this is, after all, opera seria and in opera seria, directors feel more or less obliged to do whatever they can think of to fill up the langourous repeats.

Anyway, the net effect, giving credit for good singing and good drama was something close to farce--successful farce, turning a ponderous piece of high neoclassicism into a rollicking good romp. This gives rise to two questions. One, did it work? I'd say the answer is yes, it did work, if you were careful to take it on its own terms. And two, did the presenters intend it to be farce? Here I really have no clue; I suspect maybe they did not intend it, but that they have a farcical hit on their hands anyway.

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