From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell

by Megan Meister

New York City Auditions, Day 5

My last day in New York was devoted to a theatrical double header to see the work of directors and designers who might be recruited to do an opera production.

First up was OTHER DESERT CITIES, directed by Joe Mantello, who staged the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s first opera, DEAD MAN WALKING.  The set was by John Lee Beatty, and was really amazing—the living room of an affluent home in Palm Springs that looked like it could have been featured in Architectural Digest.  It was an exceptional new play by John Robin Baitz and was superbly acted by an ensemble cast headed up by Stockard Channing and Stacey Keach.

In the evening I went to a disappointing revival of Noel Coward’s PRIVATE LIVES that has inexplicably received very good reviews in England and in Canada, which led to it being imported to New York. It starred Kim Cattrall (of SEX AND THE CITY fame) and Paul Gross, and was directed by Richard Eyre, who staged a famous production of LA TRAVIATA at London’s Royal Opera, and the new CARMEN at the Metropolitan Opera that was part of their Live in HD series.

Everyone’s timing seemed to be off, and the pacing was slow.  The design of the production (by Ron Howells) looked cheap and unattractive, and didn’t really work.  The last Broadway revival of Coward’s comic masterpiece less than ten years ago was brilliantly performed by Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman in a marvelous production staged by Howard Davies.  Comparisons aren’t really fair, I know, but the current production simply wasn’t worth bringing to New York.

Back to Dallas this afternoon, and back in the office in the morning.

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