Thursday, August 29, 2013

2012-2013 SEASON RECAP


Photo Credit: Lucie Jansch
Einstein came to Brooklyn.  A year ago Satyagraha cast a meditative spell on me at the Met, this year I remained entranced by the utterly unique experience of watching that bar of light in Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach almost imperceptibly rise to the beat of Glass' signature droning score. If you’ve seen it, you know which bar of light I’m talking about. Brilliant the places it takes you. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced, in completely unexpected ways. Thank you BAM. (Lui)

Photo Credit: Met

Giulio Cesare went to Bollywood (and other places too).  The most delightful and entertaining show of the season.  Not only we got baroque opera, which is in itself too rare a pleasure at the Met, but David McVicar spiced up this Giulio Cesare with Bollywood dances that went beautifully with Handel’s score and he played with times and styles mixing up roman armor, British colonial helmets, flapper fringes and baroque wigs. This pastiche fully worked, making the opera timeless and revamping its core. Also, it was a real pleasure to see Natalie Dessay at the top of her form as a multi-faceted whirlwind of a Cleopatra. Encore, s’il vous plait! (Lei)

Photo Credit: Met
Rigoletto went to Vegas.  If Lucic is singing it, Rigoletto could be staged in a safari in Tanzania and still work. Nobody made me cry more copiously than him this season. His duets with Damrau were the quintessential heartbreaking expression of father-daughter love and in Cortigiani vil razza dannata he was deep, raging and moving at the same time. On top of the extraordinary singing, the bold Vegas setting was refreshing and actually worked in unexpected ways. The Met should take these risks (and get Lucic) more often. (Lei)

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Mosè in the digital desert.  With their production of Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, NYC Opera is responsible for the most visionary staging of the year that made so very much out of what deceptively seemed like so little. The animated computer generated projections and use of rotating platforms on the stage floor were responsible for many surprising effects that I found dynamic and extremely captivating. Director Michael Counts and his production team are pointing the way to something new. His is a vision rife with possibility for future productions in this mold. (Lui

Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Eliogabalo brought sexy back.  It didn’t get much hotter than Gotham Chamber Opera’s titillating production of Cavalli’s Eliogabalo at the Box. The whole thing exuded sex. Gyrating virtually nude female torsos greeted the audience as they arrived. The emperor worked the catwalk that was set up through the center of the nightclub like a glam rocker. But the steamy sensuality of the whole thing was just icing on the delicious cake of Cavalli’s baroque score. Particularly memorable amongst the singers were Christopher Ainslie’s Ziggy Stardust of an Eliogabalo and Emily Grace Righter’s Alessandro. (Lui)

Image Credit: Opera Mission
Rodrigo (finally) made it to a NYC Hotel.  Rodrigo was Handel's first opera written for performance in Italy in 1707 but premiered in the U.S. only in May 2013. Opera Mission brought this baroque jewel to American life in the intimate lobby of the Gershwin hotel, with a committed cast of singers and a wonderful period orchestra. Second’s act thumping bass “Siete assai superbe, o stelle” by the tormented king Rodrigo was a great surprise of pure baroque fiery power. I hope there are many other hidden eighteen-century operas out there and more companies like Opera Mission to dig them out for us. (Lei)


Photo Credit: Met
Elisir lost its magic powers.  Gala openings should make a statement, either showcasing rarely performed pieces or revisiting old favorites in a new light. Elisir is my favorite Donizetti and I am still quite upset with the Met for having missed an opportunity to make it extraordinary at the underwhelming September 2012 season opening, that did not bring anything remotely new to the table and was certainly not gala material. Netrebko and Kwiecien were as usual quite good but not enough to save the production. Here’s to the Met redeeming itself with Eugene Onegin this next September 23rd. (Lei)

Image Credit: New York City Opera
Too much Powder [on] Her Face.  The NYC Opera had its hits and its misses this season. Their production of Adès’ Powder Her Face at BAM missed the mark. Jay Schreib and his team simply had too many ideas, too much going on, too many distractions packed into their staging rather than just let the varied and idiosyncratic music breathe. (Lui)

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg 
La Perichole & Jim Carrey.  Turning an opera buffa into a stupid screwball comedy will always be a turn off for me. No matter how good everything else may be, I just cannot forgive NYC Opera having its singers act like they’re in the dumbest of Jim Carrey’s movies. (Lei)

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