Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nightmare at Covent Garden

Weirdo Wagner staging is something we do enjoy chewing on from time to time. So I ate up this commentary on the performance of the "Ring" cycle conducted by Valery Gergiev going on right now at Covent Garden in London. That is a slice of it pictured above.

How can you take an opera seriously when characters are wearing floor-length fluorescent wigs?

Can't they just let us enjoy the opera, you know?

I know Wagner was a mean man but we can still enjoy his creations. Please just let us enjoy them. But oh, everyone has to get in the way. Everyone wants to be new and different.

Got to at least get Wotan into a business suit.

Ha, ha! See, I just got on Google Images and did a search for "Wotan Business Suit" and all these pictures come right up! The above business suit is from once when Pierre Boulez conducted a "Ring" at Bayreuth.

Wagner takes the biggest hit in this department because he was a baddie and I believe people feel guilty encouraging other people to enjoy his music. But this sort of thing happens occasionally to other composers too.

Once I dragged my husband, Howard, to "Salome" at the Canadian Opera Company. He was new to opera and I thought, this would be a good first. It's only 90 minutes long, it's a Bible story everyone knows, it's taut and violent and the music is arresting. I love the music of Richard Strauss and I cannot imagine anyone else not loving it.

Guess what happened?

They managed to make the thing so confusing that even I had trouble following it! Some figures were in robes, some in modern dress, a video screen took the place of the "Dance of the Seven Veils." I have seen good production at the Canadian Opera Company but this was not one. The whole thing was pretentious and silly.

Result: Howard is still new to opera.

These wacky stagings, they are everywhere. It is an annoying and boring situation.

I do not see it getting better in our lifetimes.


  1. They look like Susan and Lucy looking for Aslan on the stone table in Narnia--while singing a track from Sgt. Pepper.

  2. Ha, ha! Ward, we should go there and throw tomatoes.

  3. Couldn't agree more - these silly productions

    are montrous. You should have seen Hansel

    and Gretal from Glyndebourne last year -


  4. Anonymous, thank you for the sympathy. I want to hear about that Hansel and Gretel from Glyndebourne!