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sirpupnyc

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Luisa Miller [Apr. 19th, 2018|01:41 am]
sirpupnyc

Verdi’s Luisa Miller returned this season for the first time in quite a while, featuring superb-to-spectacular singing from the whole cast. The main attraction of the revival is Plácido Domingo as Luisa’s father. Miller is, however, a baritone role, so this was no attraction at all. Thankfully, there was one performance with an actual baritone, and a good one, Luca Salsi, who was very impressive in Il Trovatore a few months ago. He was equally good here, and I’m glad to have seen it with the proper balance of voices—Domingo can sing the notes, and from all reports has been giving an outstanding performance of the character, but he’s still no baritone.

The production is of the hyper-picturesque variety. These are always impressive, with their massive, detailed chunks of each require location, but they do stretch things out and undercut the flow. The Met’s stage machinery is up to the job, but it still takes several minutes between scenes to swap out one packed stage wagon for another. (And yet, on the evidence of La Bohème and Die Meistersinger, we know these huge changes can be done in a comparative flash when necessary: each of those gets about 90 seconds.) The plot is right out of the handbook of standard opera plots: intersecting love triangles, parental interference, imprisonment, sacrifice and ultimately poison (with a side of stabbing). Verdi’s always good for dressing those up, and this one’s no exception. With music and singing this good, a hoary old plot doesn’t get in the way. (And, as tangled as it is, it’s still simpler than a lot of others.) one performance left, though with Domingo; I won’t say don’t go, just buyer beware.
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(no subject) [Apr. 18th, 2018|01:06 am]
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(no subject) [Apr. 17th, 2018|12:58 am]
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(no subject) [Apr. 16th, 2018|12:48 am]
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(no subject) [Apr. 15th, 2018|01:46 am]
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Carousel [Apr. 14th, 2018|01:16 am]
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For Renée Fleming’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” you should go. OK, and for Joshua Henry’s “Soliloquy” and the whole bench scene (“If I Loved You”). And just generally for Jessie Mueller.

And the dancing. The staging of the opening Carousel Waltz seemed a bit frenetic and unfocused, but Justin Peck’s dances are otherwise dazzling and well performed.

As much as many of the parts are very good, though, I didn’t come away with a sense that the whole even equals them. There’s nothing really wrong with the production—it isn’t grand or joyful or compelling in any way, it’s just solid work. Why are we doing this, why is this happening, it’s not so clear. And to some extent that’s the show. Good parts, not so coherent a whole, not like R&H would do with South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music a decade and more in the future.
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(no subject) [Apr. 13th, 2018|12:56 am]
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Mean Girls [Apr. 12th, 2018|01:15 am]
sirpupnyc

Never saw the movie, no expectations, no real idea beforehand what it’s about. And I kinda loved it. Mean Girls is loud and garish and slick as fuck and will dance on a dime. There are a lot of words and it doesn’t seem too concerned if a few slip past, but if you miss a punch line the next one’s coming along in just a sec.

Casey Nicholaw’s Susan Stroman tendencies are nowhere in evidence—the show sings and dances at the drop of a hat, but never without a reason. Keep your hands and arms inside the ride, because the projection-driven production is eye-popping and fluid and will run you over without a blink. Not that that makes sense, or it never stops—the rat-a-tat pace of it pauses for a scene here, a song there—but whether one scene is just going directly to the next or via half a dozen fragments in between, it’s a swirl of light and furniture and movement that’s perfectly coordinated in a smooth arc from start to finish. There’s gimmickry, of course, but strict obedience to rule number one of staging gimmicks: they’re single-use only.

Today Equity announced a push to add an ensemble Tony Award. It may never happen, and certainly not this season, but ensembles like this one are exhibit A. Stylish and crisp and joyous and a single body when they need to be but still a body of individuals.

Look what it’s done to me, these sentences are horrors. Definitely a sign that you should go.
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Così fan tutte [Apr. 11th, 2018|01:45 am]
sirpupnyc

Well, there’s another one not to see again until the next new production...

Much as I love a lot of Così fan tutte, there’s just too much of it for me. And the Met’s new production somehow makes it seem twice as long, on top of trampling all over basically the whole opera. The Coney Island theme and its attendant ensemble of speciality performers are more than enough distraction, but somehow there’s still more: endless busy business. There are hardly any moments where it’s just allowed to stand still and sing. (Thankfully, one of them is Ben Bliss’ fantastic “Un’aura amorosa.”)

My guess is that it worked better in HD. Closeups probably eliminated the wearying effect of seeing the whole thing all the time. But even so, after the astounding work that Phelim McDermott has done for the Met before (meaning Satyagraha, not The Enchanted Island, which was a total dud before he staged it), it’s quite a surprise that this is so thoroughly wrongheaded.

And then when I got home I read this in the Times:
A friend who writes for television says her writers’ room has an expression for any trite, overly familiar idea — basically, anything that feels too much like TV. She calls ideas like that “tied with a chive,” after those inane bundles of green beans that caterers used to serve. Something that is tied with a chive is manipulated in order to express elegance and care, but in fact only communicates their absence.
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(no subject) [Apr. 10th, 2018|12:53 am]
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