I finally got my act
together and watched Berlioz'Béatrice et Bénédictfrom
only available for a few more days. (I don't know whose "midnight" is
the cutoff time, though I'd guess it's GMT.) However, I am sure it will show up
somewhere else. It’s not performed often, and one can imagine why. It’s a
pleasant little piece, and this is a fun production, but not terribly profound
or moving. It’s short enough to absorb (unlike Les Troyens) in a single shot. The cast—especially Stephanie D’Oustracand Paul Appleby as the
title couple—act well and sing beautifully. The chorus seems to have fun and does a great job (as does the orchestra!) And no one dies in this one.
The look of Laurent Pelly’s
production set vaguely in a 1940s “black and white” film is startling at first,
then soothing—makeup and costuming are all in blacks, whites, and greys. During
the curtain calls, it’s startling again, when the “life-like” creative staff
show up on stage, in an odd contrast to the cast. The set consists of boxes,
representing the expected way of life that Béatrice et Bénédict do not wish to follow—they don’t want to be “put
in a box.” However, if you know the play on which this is based (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About
Nothing, which most
people do in fact know), you won’t be surprised when they give in to love, and end
up in a “happily married” box.
I am trying not to say “fluffy,” but there’s
not a lot of substance to this little opéra comique. That said, there is some
pretty music—particularly a duet and trio for the principal women, and Béatrice’s
aria, in which she realizes she really is in love with Bénédict. The production
is fun, well sung, and looks pretty; and it’s pretty amusing. If you can catch
it on the Glyndebourne site in the next day or so, do take a watch and listen.
(And/or watch for it to show up elsewhere.)
I haven’t had a chance to watch/listen to this new performance of Wozzeckyet—I did do a quick random click-through just to get a taste. But I wanted to call attention to this performance on concert.arte.tv. It looks very interesting—almost a Punch and Judy-like setting. Based on the cast, it should be very well sung.
What is it about Wozzeckthat attracts fine Lieder singers?
P.S. Sorry. I couldn't disable the accursed auto-play for this post, so I am settling for posting this link.