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It'll be all Rite on the night

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Author Topic: It'll be all Rite on the night  (Read 617 times)
Neil McGowan
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« on: October 01, 2015, 11:39:02 am »

Yesterday I saw a ballet performance of Stravinsky's THE RITE OF SPRING, given by "Moscow Classical Ballet' in a double bill with THE FIREBIRD.

The productions claim to be 'inspired' by the original productions (in the first decade of the C20th, a hundred years ago) of these ballets - and in the design ethic of Diaghilev's 'Mir Isskustev' ('World Of Art') artistic group.

I'm afraid I hated Firebird - too crude for my liking.  But perhaps because I had got used to this extremely simplistic staging approach by the second half of the program, I was more interested in RITE OF SPRING.

There has been much discussion on the internet about producers and directors 'updating' works. Even works which are not 'updated' are nowadays seen very differently to the way they first appeared - due to modern lighting systems, modern dress fabrics, and other technological improvements of the modern age.

What do members think?  Is there a place for "authentic" productions of stage works...  "authentic" to the degree of what nowadays looks like barely adequate lighting (with almost no changes in the light scheme, except for a red light for the Firebird, etc) and rather gloomy costumes?

The orchestra of Moscow Novaya Opera was rather deftly conducted by Valery Kritskov, who gave the heavy brass their head in The Rite.
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2015, 07:13:46 am »

It is one of the scandals of our misguided age that people do not adhere to the original staging instructions for operas. For example, here - in translation - is what is written in considerable detail on the first page of the first act of Parsifal:

SCENE: In the Grail district. - A wood, shadowy and serious, yet not dark. A clearing in the centre. Rising up to the left begins the path to the Castle of the Grail. In the centre, at the rear, the ground sinks down to a forest lake at a lower level. - Daybreak.
GURNEMANZ (an ancient rustic) and two LADS (tender adolescents) are camped under a tree, sleeping. - From the left, as though from the Castle of the Grail, is heard the solemn morning call of the trombones.

If at this point I see no trees, no lake, and no lads I can without further ado condemn the show as a failure. It would be no more than an irritating waste of time to sit through the rest.
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2015, 09:42:08 am »

It annoys me intensely that modern opera producers invariably feel they have to "make their mark" by staging a piece in some wholly original way - Fidelio on board a space ship or some such nonsense - instead of just playing it straight. As my wife says, almost always they stick in a gratuitous rape scene. It is sheer vanity. The producer wants to draw attention to himself rather than the opera; that is not his job. He should be a conduit between the composer and the audience, in the same way as the conductor is. Imagine if a conductor conducted all the fast scenes slowly and the slow music molto allegro - it would be equivalent. It would get the conductor talked about all right, but not in a good way.

There is absolutely no reason why operas cannot be staged today in the correct period costume and following the stage directions in the score. I would not go so far as to ask for period authenticity in the technology for lighting, etc. You would need to extend that to front of house and have girls selling oranges, and insist the audience all wore wigs. But let us see operas as the composer intended. And let us complain and shame producers who put their vanity above all else.
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