Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hello, Ragazzi! (Part Two)

I just noticed that it's been about four months since my last post. I have been watching and listening to and thinking about opera...just not writing about it lately. So, I am trying to decide whether to spew all my thoughts out in this one post, or spread them out over a few days. I think I will spread them out.

So, last night I saw the Met in HD encore of the 2014 broadcast of Cosi Fan Tutte. This post is not about that. Seeing Cosi led me to binge-reading older Cosi posts on my own blog and at The Earworm. This post is not about what I learned during this late-night binge-read. 

This post also is not about the new high-end theater that hosts the Met transmissions (wine and cheese at intermission). This post is about is the other opera series—or what’s left of itat my local high-end cinema this year. There is one more opera in August. This post is about that opera. 

That opera is Puccini’s La fanciulla del west from La Scala. I am pretty sure I want to see that! But before I buy my tickets, I wanted to find out more. (The cinema website is not helpful about details. I guess they figure either you want to see it or you don’t.)

So, this is the Robert Carsen production—my curiosity is officially piqued­—with a typically Robert Carsen meta-theater concept, and what the Bachtrack review calls a “final, brilliant coup de théȃtre [that] brings us full circle.” It seems Mr. Carsen has taken the spaghetti western concept and really run with it. The opera begins and ends in a movie theater. OK, now I gotta go see it. But before I do, I research a little more. 

Apparently the cast in this performance is not the one originally planned. That's OK, it's still Robert Carsen and La Scala. Hmm, La Scala has a trailer on YouTube. Interesting, but not too helpful. Oh look, someone posted the whole opera on YouTube. 
Hello, Ragazzi!

And here it is:

I just started to watch it this morning, so my reactions are limited so far. My first reaction is I am very impressed on how animated and involved the (men of) the La Scala chorus are. It seems Mr. Carsen managed to light a fire under them ! 

I am sure I will be back with more thoughts. It's subtitled in Italian, but honestly, do we really need a translation of this opera to enjoy it? No. Do I still want to spend 15 bucks to see it in the theater, when I can see it for free on YouTube? You betcha! 


  1. Hey Rob, welcome back!

    There's a curious turf war going on here over this particular HD series, with two local art houses (one established chain, one scrappy indie) running it more or less concurrently. Between the two of them, it's excellent Exhibit A in how not to market an opera HD series -- run it at weird times, have minimal info (not even casting or location), and bury what info you do have either at the bottom of your Wordpress page where the sun never scrolls, or off an obscure link that doesn't really read to the human eye as a link. Urgh. Hope they both don't manage to kill it off before this Fanciulla comes around.

    On the other hand, Opera HD Turf War - who'da thunk it!

    1. Hey! Thanks for the welcome.

      As far as I know, this is the only theater in the area showing this All'Opera series. I found it by accident on the theater's website. And unfortunately, this is the last opera of the season.

      To demonstrate the importance (not) of this alternative HD series, the cineme actually scheduled La Favorite the same night as the Met La Boheme this summer. I already had bought my tickets and invited my new opera buddy to Boheme, so it was a bit late.(I really wanted to see Opolais and Grigio anyway!)

      But, as you said: weird times, no advertising to speak of; it'll be surprising if they bother to show them next year (if there IS a next year).

      Meanwhile, this cinema is showing the Met in HD. The 12 or 14) theaters are fairly small. Last fall, they showed the opera only in one theater; by winter they added a second theater. Even with the two theaters, the whole new season is nearly sold out already. Maybe they'll add a third?

      Actually, I am not sure our high-end place will feel they can sell out a third theater. At least two mainstream multiplexes in the area are also running the series. But there you don't get assigned seats or wine at intermission (although you do get loud action movies with loud explosions in the next-door theater!)

  2. Finally caught this at the chain arthouse. As you say, there was some confusion about who was actually in it! Beyond the Westbroek/not Westbroek thing, the cinema's advertising couldn't quite figure out if it was directed by Carsen or Graham Vick.

    1. Yay! I am glad you tracked it down. I'm going Wednesday night. Frankly, if I didn't already have tickets and a commitment to my opera buddy, I'd probably stay home. ;-)

  3. Thanks for drawing attention to this Carsen production, which is new to me! And, as Stray says, welcome back. :)

    1. You're welcome and thank you! I really enjoyed this production in the cinema. On youtube it has (a lot) less impact. I'd love to see this production travel. I guess I should review it now.


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