Friday, March 23, 2007

The Lady in What Lake?

I'm sort of wondering, having cut and pasted that headline from the review I'm about to quote you, whether the production in Minnesota with La Podles had some kind of "Land of 1000 Lakes" tie-in. That would be funny, but not very, which is how midwestern humor goes.

You know, gentle reader, once in a while I post a review that feels completely uninformative and maybe without much of a point of view. But the great thing here at My Favorite Intermissions is that even if I don't have anything to say, sometimes I know someone who does. A local correspondent has this to say about last night's NYCO prima. Put on your sunscreen--it's blistering.

I can't remember when I last saw such an UGLY production. Boy, was it ugly. Not even the Met's gloomy Vespri can top this monstrosity.

And it was confusing as hell. I know we saw Barry Banks before we saw that new (?) tenor McPherson, whose voice was seriously strange, and I thought for the rest of Act One that McPherson was Banks, and I couldn't for the life of me understand what had happened to his voice. Their attires were so similar that they could easily be exchanged, and if one doesn't know the opera (who does?), confusion easily reigns. I was relieved, at intermission, to see in the program that there were actually two guys, not one, though I can't say Banks did himself a service in this production.

Back to the ugly. I know NYCO is on a right budget, but usually they have splendid costumes, even with very minimal and cheap looking sets. [Note from Maury: Dolly always said "It costs a lot to look this cheap."]

Now, this production came from Minnesota, so perhaps one should excuse NYCO, but did anyone, ANYONE, at NYCO ever actually LOOK at this production in Minnesota and LIKE it? Hard to believe. It was the dreariest, ugliest, and stupidest set I can remember seeing. Ever. And do you really think that the Scottish warrior would stand three rifles up to make them look like the skeletons of teepees? Yes, the production
came from Minnesota, but I'm sure there are people there who know that Scots and Native Americans aren't the same ;-)

Dining room chairs in the middle of a battle field? Or did the chorus just happen to forget to remove the last three?

Back to the costumes. The men's boots were widefooted, diligently shined black leather. Sure, that's what they wore in old Scotland, right? And Elena's confidante was stalking around in the battle field in high heels!

And those golden yellow dresses on the courtier ladies were singularly unattractive, badly tailored, seriously bad looking on most of those ladies. And does Elena really know them all --- she goes around at the end shaking the hands of every one of them as if they were old friends. How many years had it been since her dad was ousted? Does she really still know all those court people? I suppose it's to give her something to do while she's not singing?

Of course, one has to consider what the performers are given to do. That starts with a silly and at times laughable plot. At the showdown, well, almost, between the two suitors, I was sitting there rooting for Malcolm to join them. Having three suitors battle it out would have made it more fun than with two, right? And why not? It's dumb enough already. Actually, there were many titters among the audience near me, and a bit of head shaking.

Generally speaking, the acting was hammy and "blocky" --- sheesh.

Well, yes, there was some good singing, particularly from "Malcolm" --- who looked very much like Maria Zifchak, but of course wasn't her.

Oh, and I'm being kind ;-)

Aren't we glad we went? Well, I always go to things I don't know. Sometimes one gets lucky. This wasn't one of them.


Thanks, Local Correspondent!


Drew80 said...

Please do not be too hard on the Minnesota Opera production of "La Donna Del Lago".

Number one, the company devoted no money to the physical production, and this was by design--this production was a one-season-only presentation of a relative rarity, and the production is not intended to be revived in the future.

Number two, almost all of the company's financial resources this season were devoted to a fairly lavish production of Ricky Ian Gordon's "The Grapes Of Wrath", the most expensive production in the history of the company.

Number three, I don't think that anyone in the Twin Cities took the physical production seriously. In fact, I am surprised that the physical production was transplanted to New York (or anywhere else, for that matter), as it does not warrant such exposure.

Anonymous said...

And I think that's the most distressing point, Drew--why, oh, why did NYCO bother to pay even the cost of transporting that utterly ineffective set? They could have found better pieces on the sidewalk in Brooklyn. Pick your neighborhood.