Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bluebeard, Bluebeard, Everywhere

I count productions of Bluebeard's Castle in the last few years (or coming up real soon now) at the following organizations (conductor in parens):

  • Seattle Opera (Rogister)
  • Los Angeles Opera (Nagano)
  • Washington National Opera (Reggioli)
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic (Salonen)
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra (Levine)
  • New York Philharmonic (Salonen)
  • Cleveland Orchestra (Boulez)
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Boulez)
  • Berkeley Opera (Khuner; once in the 1990s, once in the 2000s)

Bluebeard's Castle is a monument, one of the great operas of the 20th c. It does not need a fancy-schmancy staging, as demonstrated brilliantly by the two fine productions at Berkeley Opera. It's not expensive to put on, with only two singers.

Why oh why can't SFO or SFS perform it?


Kevin said...

More Bartok, indeed!

First, the SFS has no excuse, especially because of its progressive renown. But, there's quite a few works from which to draw, so it's more my wish than an SFS omission.

Second, while I think BC is a fantastic opera, I think the SFO has different obligations. Judging from the smattering of adverts on 102.1, they are looking to impress through sheer spectacle. That is, they seem to be trying to persuade those attracted to the "biggest" and "most". The potentially low-cost BC does not seem to fit their current model.

On the other hand, it's great to have a resource like the Berkeley Opera, which can do small, off-the-beaten-path productions. I would like to see more small opera companies and orchestras venture into the wild. I would be more than happy to support them.

BTW, this is my first comment, but have been reading for some time. Keep up the good work.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Aw, thank you!

Re SFO, yes, spectacle has been a big deal, as have big voices, but the indications are that there will be a ton of belt-tightening, with fewer productions and (my bet) a move from repertory to stagione system.

I agree completely with you about Berkeley Opera, which is reaching great artistic heights these days.

Henry Holland said...

The problem in the opera house, of course, is what to pair it with, it's too short to be a stand-alone.

There's the Mets Erwartung, but that's still less than 90 minutes. LAO paired it with Gianni Schicci which flat out didn't work. If there wasn't such a division between opera and ballet, I'd say an all-Bartok evening of The Wooden Prince > Bluebeard's Castle > The Miraculous Mandarin would be nice.

Or, since Szymanowski's glorious King Roger is only 80 minutes, how about the Bartok as a curtain raiser? Whoever sings Roger and Roxana could sing the dysfunctional Bluebeards.

Lisa Hirsch said...

An all-Bartok evening would be great,if GRIM.

Berkeley Opera had two inspired choices: in the 90s, they paired it with the unfinished "Fall of the House of Usher," by Debussy. Last year (or whenever it was they did it last...), with "L'Enfant et les Sortileges." It worked beautifully with the Ravel!

I'd love to sing "King Roger," of course.