In a newly published piece in the “Financial Times,” critic Martin Bernheimer tackles the ticklish subject of director-dominated-opera, a phenomena of post-WWII-productions that picked up enormous steam in the 1970s.
The European term, he informs us, is “Regietheater” while Americans prefer the term “Eurotrash.” It’s the mindset that gave us outrages like Berlin’s recent “Abduction from the Seraglio” which turned Mozart’s masterpiece into an evening of mindless rape and torture, as well as the now-infamous opening of English National Opera’s “Un ballo in maschera” with the men’s chorus seated (and singing) on the toilet! However, opera is a living art form, subject to the whims of producers, directors, and the times. Let’s face it: a certain amount of what we see and hear onstage must startle us — or we risk boring our audiences to death.
Read Bernheimer’s observant essay here.
I only wish Bernheimer had taken a little more time to dwell on the question of what (if anything) we owe the composer and librettist when we play fast-and-loose with their evident intentions.
Suzanne Calvin, Assoc. Dir. of Marketing, The Dallas Opera