After spending 20 years asleep, it seems possible, in a ring of fire, Terrence Malick has awakened to show us what happens when greatness goes unused. Right, in fact he made The Thin Red Line seven years ago, but I didn't see it so I can't very well write about it. And I'm not going to write much about The New World except to say that the three playings of the entire world-being-born-in-e-flat-major extravaganza from Rheingold are pretty much the only good things that happen. No, that's not fair. There are quite a few arresting images including one I would deem unforgettable, but somehow the man who gave us the soul-wringing narrative that runs behind each museum-worthy tableau of Days of Heaven has turned out an endless, tedious piece of dreck I have a hard time imagining anyone enjoying. The Wagner may be all that kept me in the theater, though the performances, one suspects, were good. It is hard to know--buried, as they were, in crap. Folks, this is the man who gave us the mean, lean Badlands. What the hell happened?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch: I keep hearing rumors of this Threepenny Opera with the potentially brilliant casting of Cyndi Lauper and Nellie McKay. I haven't gone mad, have I?* I've seen nothing official about it. In a way it's too bad because I have this little dream that Patti LuPone could get tired of doing Mrs. Lovett in the now long running do-it-yourself Sweeney Todd everyone's been so nutty about, and Ms. Lauper could somehow be persuaded to step in. You may or may not know this, but the woman has an impressive set of pipes. (I have been known to put "I'm Gonna be Strong" on opera mix cd's for reasons that one listening should explain with no room for back-talk.) It would involve some suspension of geographical disbelief, since I doubt that Queens honk is going anywhere, but then if the telecast with LuPone was any evidence, her British accent is sporadic to say the least.
All snowed in here at Palazzo D'Annato. Perhaps it's the ideal time to watch the rest of that old Elektra with Marton and Studer and just generally make things worse.
*"No, Maury," say the happy little voices. "You're as sane as...as...a really sane thing." It's so official it's got a website. And the translation is by Wallace Shawn, a man whose genius is largely unknown to the public due to the fact that he makes a really good visual punchline.