Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Les Troyens Media Round-Up

The ink-stained yakkers on the latest sensation:
  • Joshua Kosman, Chron, whose review has been updated to discuss the fabulous chorus. (Yay!) He is more of a fan of Graham than I was; he is right about the dramaturgy and also about the fact that it hardly matters. 
  • Janos Gereben, SF Examiner, accompanied by a photo that clearly shows the Troy set before it opens up
  • Stephen Smoliar, examiner.com. The photo of the Trojan horse might be a spoiler for some. 
  • Greg Freed, Parterre Box, says about what I do in fewer and funnier words.
  • Mark Swed, LA Times. He was not very impressed. He also cites the 1969 ROH staging as responsible for the work's modern revival, missing Rafael Kubelik's 1958 complete Troyens, also at the ROH. 
  • Georgia Rowe, Mercury News. The disk suspended over the Act IV ballet is the city of Carthage from Act III.
  • Steven Winn, Classical Review. Steven was sitting two rows ahead of me, so I guess Antonacci stopped carrying in Row O.
  • John Rockwell, Classical Voice America (reviewing the June 16 performance)
  • Heidi Waleson, WSJ
  • Opera Tattler: Antonacci, Martens
  • John Marcher, A Beast in a Jungle. Well, as Joshua said, he adds in all that stuff because he can.
  • Lisa Hirsch, SFCV
Watch this post for updates; Patrick Vaz has a ticket and I assume John Marcher will be attending. Also, the Music Critics Association of North America is in town this week and perhaps there will be more reviews.

I miss Rich Scheinin's perspective on this one (and on the upcoming La Ciociara).

Odd ends:
  • I wish the production had found some way to put "Je vai mourir" on the set rather than in front of the drop curtain.  
  • The scene with the two sentries sounded to me a bit like an homage to the scene with the two armed men in Die Zauberfloete.
  • I've now heard several reports from people who couldn't hear Antonacci very well, but only Greg Freed and I call this out in our reviews. He and I and one of the audience members were in the orchestra, two were in the balcony, one was in the dress circle.
  • Did Wagner know this score? Given the brass writing, especially, inquiring minds want to know.
  • Mark my words, Sasha Cooke will be singing Didon in a future bring-up of this opera.


Anonymous said...

The two sentries are the other explicit Shakespeare-ism in the libretto (after the Jessica and Lorenzo quotes from the Merchant of Venice). Comic relief -- something otherwise unknown in French dramaturgy.

There's no way Wagner could have heard any of this, or seen a score, which was unpublished. The Berlioz piece he did hear and was deeply impressed by was Romeo and Juliet. The chromatic beginning of "Romeo Alone" sounds like a first draft of the opening of Tristan (without the half-diminished chord).

The people who certainly did hear it and knew what they were hearing were the people who assisted in the first production: Pauline Viardot, who helped arrange the vocal score, Saint-Saens, who was a rehearsal pianist, and Delibes, who prepared the chorus. There are Troyens-isms in Samson and Delilah, and as for Delibes, I find the following dates suggestive:

Troyens, 1863
La Source, 1866
Coppelia, 1870
Sylvia, 1876
Swan Lake, 1876
Sleeping Beauty, 1890
Nutcracker, 1892

Tchaikovsky was crazy about Delibes' ballet scores, although I don't think he had heard them when he wrote Swan Lake. But I think there might be a line of influence in the development of the symphonic ballet score that goes Troyens -> Delibes -> Tchaikovsky -> Stravinsky.

Lisa Hirsch said...

There's another Shakespeare reference in the libretto: Didon says she should have cooked Aeneas's son and served up his limbs. Titus Andronicus!

Joshua Kosman said...

You wrote a wonderful review, and thanks as ever for this roundup.

My failure under acute deadline pressure to cite the greatness of Ian Robertson's Opera Chorus was a huge brain fart, inducing shame and horror in equally voluminous measure. (Pro tip: Kids, get that review written more than 20 seconds before the editor is due to rip you a new asshole — otherwise you're going to leave out something or someone important.)

Happily, the fluid nature of reality on the Internet enables us to make at least small expiation for our sins of omission. Which is to say that the link you've cited now leads to an updated version of my original review, with the Chorus suitably praised.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you for the kind words! I have updated the roundup to state that your review has been updated.

I feel your pain about getting the review written in time. I filed Tuesday afternoon, about 18 hours late, because by the time I went to sleep Sunday, I had managed to write a big three paragraphs, all of which I threw out some time Monday. When I finally got going, I wrote the paragraphs about Runnicles, the orchestra, and the chorus first, even though they wound up at the end of the review.