Friday, December 14, 2012

International Herald

Offering no judgment, just have not seen this item on the list and wondering if anyone was interested.  The following is an excerpt from the International Herald.

Audiences fed up with a radical director's take on an opera usually save their rage till the final curtain calls. Monday night at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, in the first of four performances of Cherubini's "Médée," the audience couldn't wait and interrupted the performance. There are limits, it would seem, on just how far a director can go, and for many those limits were breached.

Several points of departure by the director Krzysztof Warlikowski apparently had a cumulative effect that led to an eruption of jeers. According to a spokeswoman for the theater, people yelled, "Stop the desecration of opera," and "I didn't pay money for this," as well as vulgar epithets. She also said that the audience was split, and that the catcalls provoked cries in support of the production.

According to the opera's conductor, Christophe Rousset, who was reached by telephone Tuesday, the episode began brewing at the end of Act 1 and culminated at the beginning of Act 2, which follows without a break in this production borrowed from the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. As described by Mr. Rousset, in Mr. Warlikowski's interpretation, Médée's husband, Jason, still feels a powerful sexual attraction for Médée (sung by Nadja Michael), even though he has left her for another woman, Dircé, and this sexuality is emphasized in the duet for Jason and Médée that concludes Act 1.

Then, as an interlude before Act 2, pop music from the 1960s is heard in a recording (according to the theater, the song "Oh, Carol!" by Neil Sedaka) during a party celebrating the forthcoming wedding of Jason and Dircé. Early in Act 2 Médée has a scene with Creon (king of Corinth and father of Dircé), for which Creon arrives in jogging clothes and then goes on to make a pass at Médée. During a passage of spoken dialogue, catcalls grew to the point that Vincent Le Texier, the singer playing Creon, told the audience, "If you don't like it, go away." After that, Mr. Rousset said, the audience settled down and the rest of the opera proceeded without incident.

Another factor undoubtedly feeding the rage was the spoken dialogue, which Mr. Warlikowski insisted on having rewritten and which is full of vulgarities and slang. According to Mr. Rousset, Mr. Warlikowski found the original dialogue, in Alexandrine meter, "stuffy." ("Médée" was performed in its original French version with spoken dialogue rather than the later Italian version, which has accompanied recitative.)

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