Thursday, October 31, 2013

Must see: Parsifal by Romeo Castellucci and Hartmut Haenchen

In the sea of theatrical mediocrity that we are offered to see at the opera houses these days, some gems still get to shine through.
Tcherniakov hits the cord every time he stages a new opera (he managed to sculpt the life-loving story out of Les Carmélites, render Il Trovatore not-racist, return Onegin the Russain romanticism,...); Warlikowski manages to tickle our subconsciousness by his thrillingly complex (emotionally and intellectually) productions; Bieito with his razor-sharp theatrical language finds and conveys a deeper and emotionally or socially engaging content of any given opera to his public. There are a few others that probably match these standards but not to this extent or not as consistently at that level as the above mentioned guys...

Romeo Castellucci is the other kind of gem. He is not an opera producer. He is a hard core avant-garde of today's theater and his take on Parsifal was very peculiar, philosophical, intellectually stimulating, deeply human(izing) and also spectacular [despite its  somewhat unspectacular ending]. It was one of the very few opera productions that remains with your for a very-very long time after the show, haunting your brain and your heart. *

Now, good news is that you can order a copy of DVD of that sensational production of Parsifal that I was more than happy to be able to see at La Monnaie/De Munt in 2011, and then blogged about here.  DVD is never a substitute for the real show but it is the best approximation we might have. I saw the DVD last night and I absolutely loved it although I have trouble focusing at my work today ;)
[Did I say that Anna Larson was by far the best Kundry of all time?!]

Trailer below.

Note that in June/July 2014 La Monnaie will give a new production of Orphée et Eurydice staged by Romeo Castellucci and with an amazing Stéphanie d'Oustrac in the role of Orphée. Do plan your trip to Brussels.

*) This is to date the only opera production signed Romeo Castellucci. If you get to see his "Sul concetto di volto nel figlio di Dio", it is very engaging and deeply touching as well. Unfortunately, when it was given at Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, it was a trigger for the protests of ultra-conservatives who organized the demonstrations in front of the theater every night so that the police special forces had to ensure the minimal security conditions for the shows to happen. The protesters were mostly politically manipulated by those who did not want to understand a deeper meaning of the content of the story but preferred to see the imagery that they found outraging. And yet that was one of the best evenings at a theater I have ever experienced in my life...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

La mort d'un grand homme

To me Patrice Chéreau will be remembered as one of the great men of 20th century theater, a man who embraced opera and elevated it to the heights that assured its status of gesamtkunstwerk  to our days. He will also be [and should be] remembered as a great man who had courage and intellectual audacity to take Wagner away from the hands of fascists & right wingnuts and show the world that The Ring can be interpreted in a radically new way, as to resonate with our time and with us.

He was one of the precursors of the modern day theatrical language in which theater offers a quality that no TV or cinema can offer; in which a pure human emotion transcends the limits of mostly poor operatic librettos thanks to his ability to distinguish those emotions and shape them on the stage in a very peculiar way (cf. his stagings of the two operas by Berg).

Naturally, the late Chéreau did not have that same vigor to defy the crowds of those who believe that "art must be beautiful" or that "the opera staging is about the colored tableaux", but still remained true to his art that we dearly loved and deeply respected.