Tuesday, June 09, 2015

More Troyens

My Troyens review will be going up shortly at SFCV; as always, I'm worried that I haven't been sufficiently effusive, especially since this was one of the most overwhelming productions I've ever seen. I was sufficiently stunned afterward, in a good way, that I went home and basically stared at the computer for several hours, writing a few paragraphs that I had to toss, because they were terrible, and start over.

A few minor points I couldn't quite make in the review:
  • Boy, was this ever a reminder of how much I miss hearing Donald Runnicles on a regular basis. He was as good as it gets.
  • If the production is ever sold off, I'll be first in line to buy a few of the Carthage costumes, which were just made for someone like me. Also, they are gorgeous.
  • There's not much logic underlying the choice of Crimean War era costumes for the Troy acts, but it also doesn't matter or in any way undermine the sheer power of the work and the whole of the production.
  • There was ballet, and for once it did not bore me to tears, perhaps because of the ever-inventive M. Berlioz himself.
  • The production takes a pretty good run at the scenario he wrote for the Royal Hunt & Storm, although it would have been more effective if they'd just disappeared into the cave.
  • Can I possibly attend on the 12th or 20th and see Michaela Martens?


Patrick J. Vaz said...

OK, I say this without having seen the production yet (I'm going on the 25th), but: I heard about the Crimean War-era costumes (I've also seen them described as "Victorian") and my assumption was that McVicar was trying to draw a parallel between the developing British Empire and the birth of the Roman Empire. Maybe not the most relevant or pointed comparison for an American audience, but then I think the original house for this production was British. (I reserve the right to back away from this theory once I actually see the show.)

Michael Strickland said...

You did a very nice job, and since I'm not getting free reviewer's tickets for this one (I didn't ask), I don't have to write about it other than to say "Wow. Go."

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you, Mike!

Lisa Hirsch said...

Patrick, it is entirely plausible that McVicar was thinking just that, but I'm not even sure that a British audience would make the connection. If you were making that analogy, maybe you'd dress the Trojans in Indian clothing, since they are about to be conquered by the Greeks. Also, the Crimean War was fought Out There and where were the women in British mid-19th c. clothing in the war??

Robert Gordon said...

I didn't take it as being about the Crimean War or any other particular war. To me McVicar presents Troy as a small European kingdom with an identifiable royal family that is the focus of national identity, in a way that would resonate in Britain. Priam, Hecuba, Helenus, and Polyxena only sing in the ensembles, but the staging puts them front and center in a very touching way, and makes the coming catastrophe both collective (a genocide, really) and individual.

That said, if I were staging this I would be tempted to make Troy look like Sarajevo under siege.

Also, in my imaginary staging Carthage looks like Henri Rousseau's Africa, but inside the Chrystal Palace.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

As a follow-up to the Crimean War comment – I don't want to take over your comments section with this, nor do I want to seem to mount a vigorous defense of a staging that I haven’t even seen yet, but the Crimean War was the Florence Nightingale war, so there actually would be some British women on-site, though of course they’d be in whatever they used as a nurse’s uniform and not dressed as members of the royal family would dress. But I agree that the analogy kind of collapses if the Trojans aren’t dressed like residents of Crimea. McVicar is the one who did the Raj/Bollywood staging of Giulio Cesare, so . . . maybe he just likes the period, the way Kenneth Branagh seems to (I always thought it was so odd that he made a film of Hamlet that scrupulously included the entire script, including topical jokes about the rival companies of boy actors, and then set the whole thing, for no discernible reason, in the 19th century).

I would love to see a Rousseau-inspired Carthage.