About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Le Comte Ory

I went to see this live screening this past Saturday morning. I had a very full week, and almost didn't go. But these are three of my favorite singers, and I've enjoyed all of director Bartlett Scher's previous work for the Met, and Catherine Zuber designed the costumes. So I dragged myself out of bed, threw on something barely resembling clothes, slapped some Nutella on a slice of banana bread for breakfast, and I went.

It was well worth it. It would've been a huge shame to miss Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, and Joyce DiDonato all in the same show, each of whom is the best in their fach. Besides which, Florez had come directly from the birth of his first child (a son, Leandro). As in, the baby was born at 12:25 PM EST, and the opera began at 1:00 PM. He was clearly running on adrenaline and fumes, but did seemed completely focused on his performance. In the title role, Florez is disguised both as an old hermit and a nun, and his shameless mugging was hilarious.

Oddly, I'm not usually a huge fan of tenors. Sure, I've seen tenors who have been very good, but I don't find myself moved to adoration like I have been with baritones. There are certainly more baritones whose careers I follow than tenors. Don't know why that is. Open to suggestion. But Florez is definitely the exception for me. His voice is thrilling-it has such a bright, exciting sound.

Director Bartlett Scher decided to give this show a sort of a framing device--it is kind of an odd opera, as it is a medieval French farce set during the Crusades, with music composed by an Italian. To try to marry the two sensibilities, Scher set it in a theater during Rossini's time, so you can see period set mechanics and stagehands. For the costumes, Zuber made it look like they had just raided whatever was in the wardrobe closet. It was full of frothy pink confections, but the only thing I didn't entirely like about it was sometimes you'd catch a period from the future--I'd catch a Regency era gown here and there, and it was a bit distracting. But they did fun things like creating a storm with guys on the side of the stage shaking thunder sheets and wind machines, and someone was welding to create lightning (although the camera was having a hard time catching it).

Part of this stage device was a grumpy stage manager, played by Rob Besserer. It was essentially the same character he played in Scher's The Barber of Seville a few years ago, when he played the mute servant. I find it amusing because:
a) he looks like this little stooped over old guy, until the curtain call when he straightens up, and you realize he's the tallest guy on stage
b) he's the same dancer who played Herr Drosselmeier-my favorite character- in the DVD I have of Mark Morris' The Hard Nut.

Other things I enjoyed about the production:
- Choreographed stagehands twirling about while moving trees, therefore dubbed "treeography"
- A bunch of (often bearded) man disguised as nuns, hiding all the wine they've stolen under their habits. They also had a hilarious dance number.
-Rob Besserer's in-character creeping behind Renee Fleming as she introduced the broadcast
-The trio for the three leads as Ory sneaks into Countess Adele's bed, not knowing she's already got his page Isolier in there with her. They are ostensibly in the dark, so there was lots of hilariously entangled limbs and misplaced groping.

Here's a video of the scene I'm referring to, which I kidnapped from the Met's website:

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