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Thread: The Met has voices but the repertory is dull

          
   
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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    The Met has voices but the repertory is dull

    Interesting NY Times article about the Met's season:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/a...ann-norma.html
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I wonder if the Met is losing audience simply because its seasons have been so dull, lately. Maybe it's time for Peter Gelb to go, and for someone else to revitalize the organization. Yannick will be new blood, but the general manager who has been putting together these boring seasons maybe needs to be replaced as well.

    They say it's hard to fill the seats - well, why would I want, for example, to see again... and again... and again... the The Magic Flute? Or another Aida? Another Bohème? Another run of the same Cav-Pag? Another Butterfly? Yeah, we have the US premiere of The Exterminating Angel (and I'll go there to see it in person) but even that is several years after the piece opened in London. At least there's Semiramide, Parsifal, and Norma, but the Met season looks extremely boring when compared to that of any major European house.

    I mean, not even I feel like going to the Met all four evenings when I spend one of my 5-days/4-evenings trips there which I do faithfully three times per year, every year... This coming trip in late October I'll only see Hoffmann and The Exterminating Angel. The other two days, there's the perennial Zeffirelli Bohème (which looks as old as the man himself... Zef is 94 now), and a production of Turandot I've seen already, as well. I didn't feel motivated to buy tickets for these two, regardless of who is singing.

    So, by being boring and repetitious, the Met has lot 50% of my tickets... I used to go all four nights and cut it down to two given the annoying repetition of the same old, same old.

    Maybe that's what needs to be fixed, instead of bailing out some administrative positions.

    Get a better product on stage and maybe the public will come back.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    One aspect of this is that there are a very limited number of operas that represent the total of operas that see staging at all, if I remember correctly. Baroque may add to the total. I have seen in one form or another, all of Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, Bellini and those of Donizetti that are available. I have seen the Ring and Mozart/DaPonte's operas. Ditto the French romantic era works. And R. Strauss. Contemporary works are not to my taste. So there are a very finite number to see at all. Operas that fill houses are a much smaller number that the total of what is available to produce. I suspect that experienced opera fans cannot satisfy their desires to see "new" stuff. So they look for new singers in "old" roles. It's a puzzlement!

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGerald View Post
    One aspect of this is that there are a very limited number of operas that represent the total of operas that see staging at all, if I remember correctly. Baroque may add to the total. I have seen in one form or another, all of Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, Bellini and those of Donizetti that are available. I have seen the Ring and Mozart/DaPonte's operas. Ditto the French romantic era works. And R. Strauss. Contemporary works are not to my taste. So there are a very finite number to see at all. Operas that fill houses are a much smaller number that the total of what is available to produce. I suspect that experienced opera fans cannot satisfy their desires to see "new" stuff. So they look for new singers in "old" roles. It's a puzzlement!
    Sure, but what is called "the standard repertory" does have up to some 200 titles, the Baroque adds more, and contemporary opera can be very good too. But my point is not even the titles, but the same productions being presented over and over. When the opera is one of the usual ones and the physical production is the same, the motivation to buy another ticket to see it again is not there, even with cast changes.

    The Met has reduced the number of new productions, citing costs. But then, the costs become even more of a problem because the public tires of the same old productions and stops coming. That's my point.

    I don't think one solves the ticket sales problem by becoming dull, but rather, by becoming daring, creative, and original.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    I don't pretend to know the answer to this question. However, one problem is the cost of new productions - opera houses need to be able to stage them over some years - renting them out, if possible, in between, to help make them viable.

    The Deutsche Oper still uses its production of La Gioconda - from 1968. Its production of Tosca, also is about 40 years old. I guess a warhorse is a warhorse so, if the production is serviceable, maybe the same old armor on the warhorse will still work?

    Zeffirelli's Boheme has another problem. It is a beautiful production that hits all the cylinders that some audiences expect to see at the opera. Unfortunately, it is so successful that it runs concurrently at several different opera houses internationally. I saw it in Vienna several years ago and thought OMG, not this again! Still, it was wonderfully sung by Piotr Beczala and Kristine Opolais.

    I enjoyed it, despite my crankiness. But, it was no where near as interesting as the staging done at WNO some years ago that had the opera set in a big city loft apartment (with a then nearly unknown Vittorio Grigolo). I like that kind of thing - and regardless of some liberties taken in the surtitles to make it all work, it was the best performance of the opera I had seen in a long time.

    About 30 years ago - give or take - the Washington Opera staged a production of La Traviata that was designed by Jean Pierre Ponnelle. It sort of looked at the opera inside-out, if I recall the reviews correctly. The overture started - at which the curtain went up on Violetta's casket (Catherine Malfitano), surrounded by the chorus - all in white face and masks - who kind of bounced up and down on their toes in time to the music. Act II, Scene II, Flora's house, the scene included an enormous roulette wheel front and center. When Violetta and Alfredo quarrel, he pushed her on to the roulette wheel - which did a slow turn with her on it. I loved it and stood thru the opera twice in one week. Many years later, I ran into Martin Feinstein, the opera's general director, in an antique shop. We had a wonderful conversation and, when I asked him about the Traviata (that was mercilessly panned by the Washington Post), he told me it was the biggest mistake of his career.

    It's a shame that the Met, in its wisdom, decided to cancel the Calixto Bieto La Forza del Destino. As you know, I loved Bieto's production of Carmen that I saw this past summer and would have looked forward to seeing his take on Forza - and how he would manage to temper himself to the more conservative NY audience. Of course, he might well have rejected any such tempering, which might explain the cancellation (either that or he couldn't figure out how to make the cast naked...).

    One might think it's just us big ol' demanding opera fans being overly fussy. But, it's interesting that when the singing is excellent, how a really cheapo production works better than one might think. Yes, Komische Oper, I'm looking at your Die Meistersinger, which was a revelation in the empathetic and high caliber singing of its not-so-flashy singers. The singers probably would not be hot box office material in big city opera houses in the U.S., but I would be more than happy to hear the same cast and production done again at the Kennedy Center. Any day.
    Last edited by Hoffmann; September 30th, 2017 at 10:56 PM.

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Some really good points there Hoffmann. The new Richard Jones' La bohème which replaced the 41 year old John Copley production received mixed reviews but most people liked it. There were some blocking issues. For example when Rodolfo sang Che gelida, Mimì had her back to the audience and you couldn't see Rodolfo for her head. Also the lads' stove has a chimney and often the chimney obstructed our view of a singer.




    There's a rumour that in 2019 ROH will stage a new La forza del destino. http://future-royal-opera.wikia.com/wiki/2018-19.

    Another rumour that a certain La bellissima will sing Leonora.

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Having seen (live) both the Met's current production of Die Zauberflöte and the Barrie Kosky version from the Komische Oper, I must admit that I prefer the latter. I wonder if certain productions simply age better than others (such as those from the DOB which Hoffmann mentioned).

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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Having seen (live) both the Met's current production of Die Zauberflöte and the Barrie Kosky version from the Komische Oper, I must admit that I prefer the latter. I wonder if certain productions simply age better than others (such as those from the DOB which Hoffmann mentioned).
    There probably is some truth to that, although I would suggest that 40 years old might be pushing it some cases.

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