Cutting Room Floor

Opera! Porn! Other Stuff!

Imagine the looks on my colleague's faces when I pitched an idea about opera. Now imagine the looks on their faces when I pitched a show about filthy opera. (Basically, if you add porn to opera, even a non-opera lover perks up a bit.) I was shouted down, of course — but not until after I had shouted a few totally non opera/NPR terms. (I win!) So to call this a "cutting room floor" post isn't totally accurate. It's more like the foyer to the cutting room. Here's the story: a style of of opera direction is starting to flourish in Europe (mostly Germany) — it's called Regietheatre, or "director's theater." It's been around for a while, really, but the gist of it is rather extreme interpretations of operas that not only completely disregard the composer's specific directions, but will also veer stunningly — and occasionally disgustingly — away from major elements of location, chronology, and plot. And this, my friends, is not like watching Carmen set in Fascist Italy. It's more like watching Carmen set in the middle of a particularly nasty Quentin Tarantino film. I feel like I can't really put digital pen to paper to describe what actually goes on in some of these productions — not because I'm a prude, but because I'm not totally sure NPR wants a detailed description of the kinds of things that go on in many of these productions. (If you do, read this. And this.) Suffice it to say, intravenous drug use and gang rape are de rigueur. Now, I love theatre. I love opera. I love modern interpretations of both. But particularly in the case of opera, I find myself sort of old-fashioned on this front. At Juilliard, we were lucky to get free tickets to the Metropolitan Opera on occasion, and one of the things that made standing room (in heels!) bearable was the beauty of not just the music, but the productions themselves. Opera is a glittering world of detailed loveliness; even though they feature suicides, war, murder, and all kinds of brutality. For me, it's sort of the point; it's imperative that Madame Butterfly's suicide be as beautiful as her arias. And that's not to say that I don't love grittiness. I just don't love it in my opera. I can't tell if this makes me shallow or not... or anti-intellectual. (It might make me anti-Marxist?) It does, however, make me anti-regietheatre. And, I'm hoping to never see Carmen shoot up at the Met. That, I would not stand for.



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Art, on any level and in any medium, is always going to be somewhat subjective. These new, less tradtional themes being incorporated into the opera at the Regietheatre should not be scolded for polluting a once...let's say...pure medium of artistic expression. It's okay if one doesn't like it. That's the axiom of art. However, when the traditional, classic operas are being displaced by the new, then there is a problem. You can put as much dreck, and gore as you want in opera to jazz it up, but if the clean, formal operas are forgetton then what point will there be to go to a weird, sleezy one in the first place?

Sent by Connor de Bruler | 4:57 PM | 5-30-2008

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