||[Jul. 19th, 2018|12:44 am]
I’m not going to argue that Bernstein’s Mass isn’t a big hairy mess, because it is that. Musically, theologically, stylistically, it’s a late-60s frappe. But, for all that, it has a plan and it sticks to it. It’s not an underbaked sort of mess, it’s not the kind of show that hasn’t figured out what it wants to be when it grows up. For all its warts and excesses and juxtapositions, it’s riveting and powerful.
The production this week at Mostly Mozart (presumably originally slated for the now-defunct Lincoln Center Festival) embraces all of it. It would take a strong hand to do the piece and try to avoid the fact that it’s 1970. Contemporary resonance, sure, but in the opening sections especially, there’s no dodging the time of its composition.
It also doesn’t try to smooth over the patchwork, transition-by-fiat aspects. This follows that follows the other because. It just does. That’s the piece. There’s a ton of great music, even if the whole misses greatness. And for a “religious” theatrical piece, it directly addresses the difficulties of faith and the power of community. As a work to consecrate a theatre, its ultimate message is about the power of a mass of people sharing an experience.