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Shipwrecked – A Response

Agreed. – Wooster Group's Sci-Fi mashup of Cavalli opera La Didone offered little sense of transcendental satisfaction for the die hard opera lover (of which I am one!). And really the whole conflation felt gratuitous. But as sheer entertainment...I had a great time! First off RedCat feels the perfect spot for this kind of hyperactive performance. Wooster really makes the most of all the technology available. The sound is amped and so are the cast, ready at any moment to take one for team Wooster. Probably my favorite performance was Scott Shepard as sir Piggy. He ran around snorting and grunting executing one prat fall after another, all the while clinging to his ukulele. When at last he is shot down, he belly flops onto … [Read more...]

Shipwrecked on Planet Kitsch

La Didone, The Wooster Group, Redcat Theater, Los Angeles, June 6 through June 21 – Open on a post industrial-style stage and a lush, restless soundscape of way-distorted noise levels with smooth pulsing undercurrents of Baroque chamber opera. The sensual meets cold steel, curvy bods are clad in nicely shaped silver bodysuits. The overall effect has some charms, but like most things that charm, there is a vacuous center. In the case of “La Didone”, a 1641 Baroque opera by Francesco Cavalli, you might argue that the voiding of content began in a palliated retelling of the Dido/Aeneas romance when adapted for Carnival by librettist Giovanni Francesco Busenello. In that opera, the tragic fate of Dido, the beautiful spurned … [Read more...]

Take That!

Achim Freyer's Redemption through Geometry, Metaphysics and Light Sabers Although I am focusing on design and direction in these notes on LA OPERA's Ring Cycle, it would be a travesty here not to applaud the spectacular vocal performances last night. I would single out Anja Kampe, whose performance was jaw-droppingly powerful, tender and transfixing...but then that would leave out Placido Domingo's powerful, expertly polished performance with its subtly Italianate flourishes so right for the part of Seigmund; or Linda Watson's spectacular Brunnhilde. Eric Halvarson (Hunding) has a basso so profound I would be terrified to be in the same room with him singing, and Vitalj Kowaljow performed a nuanced and complex Wotan. Michelle DeYoung … [Read more...]

Here’s Looking at You Wotan

The Dilemma of Watching Wagner – Theatrical eminence Achim Freyer has an astonishing portfolio: please check out the photos of the productions he's done at his own company Freyer Ensemble. http://www.freyer-ensemble.de The task of staging the mythic, grand and otherworldly works of the Ring cycle involves scholarly mastery and a theoretical rigor. Any major opera company needs to engage a theater artist who is credentialed and bears the imprimatur of a cultural establishment. Wagner after all is the epitome of a grand master, a model for the hyperinflation of artistic importance...big themes set to brilliant grandiose music, and backed up by the most refined musical skills that Western culture can provide. The musical … [Read more...]