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re: LA TRAVIATA at the Met - tonight
Posted by: NewtonUK 07:56 am EST 12/05/18
In reply to: LA TRAVIATA at the Met - tonight - singleticket 12:48 am EST 12/05/18

I pretty much agree with your assessment. There are so many great opera directors in the world whom the Met never hire. I guess they save money on Bart Sher and Michael Mayer because they are local hires. Two terrific theatre directors who just are clue free re opera.

While glittery, I thought the set was ultimately garish and hideous. ANd the decision to play the entire opera in one room for reasons that make no sense made - well - no sense. There have been productions of TRAVIATA that start with Violetta on her deathbed, while the prelude plays away. But usually it fades away a bit before the transition to Flora's party. In this production, when Violetta 'dies' in the tacked on prolog, she gets out of bed, and slowly backs up stage center, and exits through a door, so that we are left watching Alfredo and Germont and the Doctor and Annina mourning an empty bed. Really? In 2018? WTF? An insupportable choice.

But like all the bad things in this production - the garish costumes etc - Peter Gelb, the General Director, seems missing in action. Like a Broadway Producer (well - a good one), he needs to watch these productions develop and head off or question horrid choices that directors make (like the entire recent COSI, or Sher's HOFFMAN, or MARNIE, or John Doyles PETER GRIMES or ....). But Mr Gelb seems not to pay attention to what actually goes on on stage. While these productions are 3-5 years in the planning, no one at the Met ever seems able to notice bad decisions.

One thing you didnt mention was the horrid ballet. Choreographed by the same dance -setter who did WAITRESS, the dancers hop and jerk about the stage, doing nothing that vaguely relates to what the chorus is singing about. Yeah its stupid (maybe) that there is a matador ballet number at the Party - but thats whats in the score and libretto and lyrics. But to ignore this and substitute mediocre modern dance meets bad ballet, seems wilfully self destructive. And the cliche choice of making it apparant that the dancers, male and female, are just there to seduce the rich partygoers? yawn.

And of course the demise of the Met's corps de Ballet means every production at the Met with dancing has a different rag tag bunch of dancers on stage. Sometimes very good - sometimes - as on this occasion not very good at all.

And the introduction of Alfredo's sister? Innapropriate, distracting, and destructive to plot and character. She is indeed dragged around like a prop, I guess to prove that she exists. Certainly Germont would not have brought his virginal daughter into the home of a prostitute, nor would he have brought her to see the same prostitute (in his mind, and to be fair, more or less in reality) die of TB.

And you failed to mention that during the beautiful music intro to Violett'as death bed scene - this same mute Germont Girl, in wedding regalia and a forty foot bridal veil, walks slowly Robert wilson style across the stage as Violetta lies in bed. Obviously Mayer is obsessed with the fact that it is this young woman who causes the tragedy by merely existing.

And I think I am right that once again we dont hear Alfredo's cabaletta in Act 2.

I love Damrau - but she flails about like some 19th Century idea of a diva. Flopping onto a divan head first to attempt to show emotion.

ANd I recall that in Act 1 the Chorus (none of these theatre directors at the Met have a clue what to do with the chorus) jerk their arms around in unison as if they are fans of the dream ballet in the Daniel Fish OKLAHOMA, or refugees from THE PROM.

Another clueless night at the Met, courtesy of Peter Gelb.

That said - Yannick Nezet Seguin got beautiful playing from the orchestra, and great detail from the singers. A bright note. Maybe Gelb will let him be Artistic Director too. He certainly can't find worse productions than Mr Gelb usually does. (PS - there have been some GREAT productions in the Gelb era. THE NOSE comes to mind. But few and far between)

At the end of the day. a stunning, and moving, and modern Willy Decker production has been replaced by a hodge podge conservative production, joining the seeming 72 David McVicar productions that the Met is stacking up. Very pictorial, very old fashioned, stultifying to the art form.

End of rant.
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