Monday, January 03, 2011

Minority Report (2007)

(The first of a series of catch-up blog postings, most started contemporaneously with the performance I'm commenting on.)

Apparently I'm the only person in the Bay Area who didn't love Iphegenie en Tauride, the surprise hit of San Francisco Opera's 2007 summer season. I'm getting some email brickbats over it, so, explanations herewith.

Most importantly, the music did not engage me the way it evidently engaged everyone else. Yes, the score has many beauties - the glorious choral writing and the moment of recognition, among others. But the extreme restraint and classical balance just didn't appeal to me in my mood of the day.

Now, I was not expecting Strauss's Elektra, an opera where the extremity of the musical expression matches the emotional tone of the libretto. But the production, with the writhing bodies and principals staggering around and suffering a great deal, looked more appropriate for Elektra than for the music I was hearing. So there was a disconnect between the visual and the aural. In addition, sitting in the orchestra, somewhat to the side, the principal singers all seemed a size too small for the house, even with the comparatively light orchestration, as wonderful as Susan Graham was. (To my mind, this means the opera itself belongs in a smaller house.) Bo Skovhus sounded sadly worn for a pretty young guy.

Whether I would have liked a more classical production better, I don't know. It Depends.

That said, there was one major delight, the surprise of Heidi Melton's Diana flooding the house with sound from somewhere up in the balconies. Woot!


pjwv said...

I love that you're doing this. Even though we disagree about this particular performance.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I probably should have gone to see it twice. I mean, everybody loved it except me. At least I know other people who hated El Nino!

pjwv said...

I did end up seeing it twice. As you mention, it might have been your mood. Gluck is difficult to carry off, I think, especially since the way we hear emotional extremity is so different from the way his time heard it.

El Nino reminds me that I have some catch-up entries of my own to do. . . .

doug said...

I enjoyed your take Lisa. Personally, I adored this production and haven't seen anything as compelling at SF Opera since then. Strong words, I know. I have a strong connection to the theatrical/visual elements of the full opera experience and I find most productions under the new leadership boring, boring, and also kinda boring. Ah well... Thanks for reminding me why I loved it even if you didn't. :)