Saturday, January 07, 2006

Minutes from the Jews for Wagner Society's first (and only) meeting

Quel week.

One day I'll learn my lesson and go to the prima if I'm going to write things up, but as far as Wozzeck is concerned, I'm afraid I went to the ultima and can only basically stand around pointing enthusiastically at my betters and yelping, "what (s)he said, and then some!" I mean for instance it's certainly what the French call de trop at this point to let you in on the secret that Levine conducts Berg like a master, or even to add my recollection early in the evening of Strauss' demand that Elektra be played (as this score was) "like fairy music." So perhaps I should forego holding my hands out sooooo wide and waggling my eyebrows around a lot and just confine my critique to the words "holy shit!" and claim my rightful place beside Shaw in the annals of music writing. Perhaps there's one too many n's in that.

And, you know, the Wellsungs have already done a bang-up job of knocking the physical production, and I can only add my delight in knowing that Ikea has a branch in purgatory, should I ever be stuck there with a little time for shopping.

I'm almost as stymied by the overall excellence of last night's Wozzeck as I was by the middlebrowishness of the Lucia, you know what I mean? Can I get an amen? Well that's alright, I didn't really want one anyway. It could be asked that Dalayman sing this stuff a little more fear and lust, and I did find myself wondering what Steber (in English, alas) sounded like, but in the interest of not being one of those operatic necrophiliacs that would sleep with the corpse of Mary Garden if they could find a shovel and a big plastic bag, I'd like to move on with my life and applaud her for a rock solid Marie that has no reason not to become something more.

By the same token, though Wozzeck's monologue in the first scene has probably been ruined for me forever by Matthias Goerne's recording of it (detailed in a way some singers save for Mahler) I can't see letting that fact deflate my appreciation of Alan Held's urgent, thoroughly shattered but vocally quite refined Wozzeck. The physicality of his realization was, in the estimation of one of my companions, overdone perhaps to the point of parody, but I think I'm comfortable with that in this rep as long as there's something motivated and specific about it, as there was.

Oh. Before I go on. (This is structurally a propos, it is not lost on me.) There’s something richly cinematic about bluntly dropping the scrim between each scene, but if I were king, they’d fucking stop it right now anyway. Because as we all kow without reading Pavlov, when you drop a curtain, a scrim or a hat, audiences immediately contract galloping bronchitis, recall a sudden need to tell Aunt Rivka they like her dress, and generally go about the business of stomping mercilessly on any dramatic tension that may have built up like so many grapes in an I Love Lucy episode. I’m sure I’m turing into a regular librarian about things, but unless the interruption is an Italianate eruption of audience approval or ire, I’d just as soon eliminate the ringing bell that brings it on. (Now, the decision to play the thing without intermission is, on the other hand, very welcome.)

I'm not sure what those links were about. You must forgive me. Sometimes I just get giggly about Emma Goldman.

Graham Clark is of course a genius and you don't need me to tell you so. Even if there were a dozen tenors specializing in the "ew! ew! must take shower!" subfach, I think we'd all have to pinch ourselves occasionally for joy that someone does it so forcefully and with such precision. How excellent, then, to have found his bass clef counterpart in the meticulous pitchblende-voiced Walter Fink, whose doctor tipped the needle on the creep-o-meter to a reading of "Dick Cheney."

Time to change gears if I'm going to listen to the broacast of that opera about the sleeping potion. What's that you say? It's a love potion? I guess I always assumed otherwise for obvious reasons.

1 comment:

Ariadne said...

Maury! You crack me up and educate me at the same time. Couldn't ask for a better combo.

It took me reading both wellsung reviews to understand the "Ikea branch in purgatory comment", now I can't stop laughing ... evilly!

Levine totally rocks, of course. The opera necrophiliacs that ... ugh, thanks for that image (NOT) now can't get over that one either (thanks alot), and btw I totally appreciate the review of the performers.

As for the scrim "dropping" down, couldn't agree more. I'll print up "Make Maury King" bumper stickers so they will have to fucking stop it right now. Couldn't agree more. Reminds me of the killer (literally) scenery in the godawful staging of Sonnambula I saw recently. (Singing = very good, Staging = alternated between ridiculous & dangerous, sometimes ridiculously dangerous and nearly always dangerously ridiculous). See

I'm almost at a point of wishing we singers could go into each audition with a checklist. If these are not present in the production, I will not sing for you today, I put on my Diva Sunglasses and walk out, type thing. The Audition Checklist:

1 - Who's conducting? Not who's slated to conduct, who's actually in the pit looking up at me and waving the baton, setting the tempi we agreed upon, accompanying (huh? what's that???) and not drowning me out?

2 - On a scale of 1-10, 1 being a kindergartener would be safe on stage and 10 being not possible for anyone who is not already a certified stunt(wo)man, what is the degree of difficulty (read: "actual physical danger") for me as a performer on stage in this role?

3 - On a scale of Ultratraditional to Ultramodern, Ultratraditional being Mozart would recognize this production and Ultramodern being what I call the "Schprockets" school of staging, what us ionarts junkies have come to call "a lighbulb and a chair" (I add "and all black turtlenecks"), how would you describe the actual production? (Not what's planned, what I will actually have to wear, the furniture I will have to sit upon or walk around, and the overall century, mood and look of the production)?

Okay, now I'll sing this audition.

jnsuahja = a new jam-based high alcohol content Spanish sangria drink