September 27, 1990 |
Here we go again. The wonders of a great opera are compromised by gimmickry. A meddlesome director and designer refuse to trust the composer. The procedure has become all too familiar. In some instances, re-creational modernists manage to violate the letter of the original law, yet still illuminate the spirit. That's terrific. Other second-guessers are so intent on imposing their own irrelevant vision on the piece at hand that they distort or even destroy the intended dramatic impulses.
September 16, 1990 |
IT'S LATE AFTERNOON in a brightly lit dressing room in the basement of the Los Angeles Music Center, and Maurice Sendak is slumped wearily in a chair, overseeing the fittings of chorus costumes for next week's opening of "Idomeneo." Suddenly, a young man with dark hair and glasses, the last fitting of the day, announces to the half-dozen costume fitters and wardrobe attendants that the open-front sailor's jerkin they've put on him is totally unacceptable.
June 9, 1990 |
Ah, whimsy. Wistful whimsy. Sophisticated whimsy. Eager whimsy. Whimsy with a message. Whimsy with a dark edge. Whimsy with hustling, bustling modern music bearing occasional in-jokes and clever quotations. Ah, children's whimsy designed for grown-ups. Heavy-handed whimsy. Whimsy that loses something, perhaps, in translation from page to stage. Whimsy that tends, in any case, to get a bit ponderous in the vast open spaces of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
June 3, 1990 |
Directions to Maurice Sendak's house here are a little intimidating. Over the phone, Sendak describes at great length country dirt roads with no identification, hard-to-see turns and easy-to-miss landmarks. On a rainy, foggy May day, the 90-minute drive from Manhattan puts one in mind of those mysterious journeys to a weird land Sendak's characters regularly take, especially Max's voyage in Sendak's popular children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are." What wild thing lies at voyage's end?
April 16, 1990 |
The program magazine at the Civic Theatre on Saturday heralded Mozart's "Magic Flute." But the San Diego Opera presented no such thing. For better or worse--probably worse--this was "Die Zauberflote." It was performed with even more German dialogue than one normally encounters in American houses. Ironically, there wasn't a single German on the stage. There cannot have been many Germans out front.
January 26, 1986 |
Even amid the endemic and fashionable gloom-unto-suicide of turn of the century Czechoslovakia, the melancholy of Rudolf Tesnohlidek was something special. His father was an animal skinner, and in a brief biographical afterword to "The Cunning Little Vixen," Robert T. Jones, one of the translators, says that Tesnohlidek as a boy would run screaming from the moans of the dying beasts. That might have given anyone a dark vision of existence.