Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Opera For the Present?

Word on the street is that people don't like the Met's new Tosca, which premiered last night to loud boos directed towards the production team.

Much of this displeasure is aimed at director Luc Bondy who has put a contemporary spin on the production, making it rife with commentary about our current world.

And so continues the debate about regietheatre or as some call it, Eurotrash.

Does opera allow for high-concept productions or should it remain true to the plot?

Is their room for Tosca or La boheme in the present?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think as long as the adaptive concept actually works for the production, it's worth doing. We continue to see Bohème and Tosca and all these great masterpieces because there is something about the characters and the music that speaks to us and is relevant to our lives. The "updated version" has gotten a bad wrap from far too many directors ignoring some portion of the opera to make a concept work. When you look at the plot but ignore the music, or get 90% of an opera to work with some concept while hoping the audience doesn't notice that 10% that's a real stretch, you're better off abandoning the interpretation and sticking to something more traditional.

--Chrissy F.

Anonymous said...

We're going to post this comment by Keturah Stickann
who made this comment on our Facebook page.

***

Opera certainly allows for contemporary commentary. Many operas stand up to a more modern approach well - there are so many timeless stories that have been made into operas. However, there are some operas that are quite entrenched in time and place, and TOSCA is one of them. This is Puccini's most political opera, whose story is very specific to... Read More a certain date in time and a certain place. Without the political and historical context, the libretto doesn't make sense. In the same breath, though, I think that the lessons we can cull from TOSCA are just as relevant today as they were then. With stories like these, I think it's possible to give the opera its appropriate context while still making parallels to our society and political climate today.

On the other hand, we should not be afraid of stepping away from tired conventions in order to dig deeper into a story that is perhaps stymied by tradition. It's when the directorial choices pull away from the text that I get upset...