Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday at the Opera - Un Ballo in Maschera - Bavarian State Opera

     The Bavarian State Opera live streamed their production of Ballo last Friday and then they archived it for a week.  I am so glad they made it available for a time to watch when it is convenient. The experience though was a bit of a mixed bad.  First of all, the singing was excellent - Piotr Beczala as Riccardo and Anja Harteros as Amelia were outstanding - I especially loved Amelia's 3rd act aria with the cello - beautifully sung and played. I also liked George Petean as Renato. I was not as excited by the Oscar of Sofia Fomina, not sure why, there was just something missing. I did like Sam and Tom and the chorus was good. The tempi over all seemed slow and the whole score seemed to drift a bit for lack of energy. But perhaps that might have been on purpose to go with the rather drifting production. Frankly I found the production rather perplexing and in the end unsuccsessful. It seemed to be a concept in search of an opera - and Ballo just didn't work for it. I did like the intro - setting up Riccardo as reckless seems to me to be right on, but then it floated away: why was there a bed in every scene?  If it was Riccardo's bed why was Renato and his child sleeping in it?  What was the point of the puppet? Why all the guns and why, for an opera entitled "A Masked Ball" were there no masks to be seen anywhere. I don't mind when directors try to reimagine a work and I have seen some that work incredibly well (the Theater an der Wien 2015 Dutchman for example is one of the best I have ever seen) but this just made no sense to me, there was no inner logic and it kept contradicting itself. Often in these inds of reimagininations the libretto can often undermine the concept, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.  For this production it was the latter - what we saw on the stage was so far removed from the libretto that it made no sense. Frankly I was kind of glad when it was over for between the weird production and the slow tempi I had checked out of this production at the beginning of the last act. I do have to say that Verdi filled this opera with some wonderful music, but this production leaves much to be desired. I much prefer the current Met production much better. Watch it for the beautiful singing, but hopefully this cast can use their talents in a better production of this opera. Not recommended I'm afraid.

The stream is available only for a week:

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