Author Topic: Lulu (Alban Berg)  (Read 7407 times)

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Cosi bel do

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Lulu (Alban Berg)
« on: October 29, 2014, 03:16:29 AM »
I haven't seen any topic specifically about Berg's masterpiece, for sure one of the most essential works of the last century. Except a few things about CD versions, and also on the Berg topic.

As almost everybody knows, the opera (based on Berg's own libretto after two plays by Wedekind) was left unfinished, and only since 1979 is it performed entirely, after Friedrich Cehra orchestrated Act III after Berg's short score and different orchestral fragments (the first 268 bars, and the two interludes included in the Lulu-Suite). The first production was Boulez and Chéreau's, in Paris, in 1979, with Teresa Stratas in the main role.

Shortly after these performances, Boulez recorded what remains the reference version on CD, a tense and precise vision with a superb Stratas, as much an actress than a singer, even on CD :



What do you think about Lulu ? And what about your favourite versions ? There's quite many of them on DVD and Blu-Ray (or other video formats)...

Video versions
- Evelyn Lear, Wiener Symphoniker & Karl Böhm, Otto Schenk (Theater an der Wien, 1962) / Unfinished version in 2 Acts !
- Teresa Stratas, Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris & Pierre Boulez, Patrice Chéreau (Paris, 1979)
- Julia Migenes, Metropolitan Orchestra & James Levine, John Dexter (NY Met, 1980)
- Christine Schäfer, London Philharmonic & Andrew Davis, Graham Vick (Glyndebourne, 1996)
- Laura Aikin, Orchestra of the Zurich OH & Franz Walser-Möst, S-E Bechtolf (Zurich, 2002) / Unfinished version in 2 Acts !
- Agneta Eichenholz, Orchestra of the Royal Opera & Antonio Pappano, Christof Loy (London ROH, 2009)
- Patricia Petibon, Orchestra del Liceu & Michael Boder, Olivier Py (Liceu Barcelona, 2010)
- Patricia Petibon, Wiener Philharmoniker & Marc Albrecht, Vera Nemirova (Salzburg Fest., 2010)
- Barbara Hannigan, Orchestre de la Monnaie & Paul Daniel, K. Warlikowski (Brussels, 2012)
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 09:06:35 AM by Cosi bel do »

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2014, 03:18:11 AM »
I've decided to watch a few video versions lately, but only watched the Boder/Py production for the moment. Here's what I said on the listening now thread :

Quote
Berg, Lulu
Boder / Py production (video) with Patricia Petibon
from Liceu Barcelona



Good production, Petibon is an incredibly physical and tormented Lulu. Boder's conducting lacks the precision and detail of Boulez's though. And Py is as usual good at actors direction but questionable in his choices, his sense derision masking a lack of ability to express tension. Also, the set is unnecessarily distracting. Still a good performance overall. I'll compare it with Andrew Davis / Graham Vick production with Christine Schäfer.

I'll now watch Boulez/Chéreau in video (I'm happy that I found it !) and Davis/Vick. Then I'll look for the other Petibon version in Salzburg. Also, the Met version from 1980 gets high praise.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 03:19:50 AM by Cosi bel do »

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2014, 04:27:49 AM »
This is the Lulu I own on BR, and it's a fantastic production with equally wonderful performances. It was quite a shock to primarily only know Petibon from her Baroque recordings, but she is a marvel here. A major highlight is the opening of the 3rd act with the performers mingling within the audience. Great video quality and nice direction for a filmed opera.





« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 04:46:11 AM by TheGSMoeller »

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2014, 04:36:46 AM »
About Petibon, she has really succeeded in making hers two great roles in 20th century opera : Lulu, and also (for quite some time now) Blanche, in Poulenc's Dialogue des carmélites.

Offline ritter

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2014, 04:38:25 AM »
I've decided to watch a few video versions lately, but only watched the Boder/Py production for the moment. Here's what I said on the listening now thread :

I'll now watch Boulez/Chéreau in video (I'm happy that I found it !) and Davis/Vick. Then I'll look for the other Petibon version in Salzburg. Also, the Met version from 1980 gets high praise.
Great idea to start this thread, Così! I really like Lulu, so I'm sure I can learn a lot from what will be posted here..

I think I almost like Lulu better than Wozzeck; I admire that latter immensely as well, but find Berg's second opera perhaps more varied and more developed. The surprising thing is that I don't really care much for Wedekind's circus-like aesthetics (an exhibition I recently saw in Munich's Theatre Museum was a huge disappointment), and yet believe Lulu works incredibly well on all levels.

You found the Boulez / Chereau / Paris Opèra Lulu:o AFAIK, its only available with (very annoying) embedded Japanese subtitles...I really can't understand how this classic hasn't been made available more widely on a major label  ???

I myself am not much of an opera on DVD person (well, there's exception: I have the full Bayreuth videograp`hy  ;)), and much prefer to listen to opera on CD...I've been listening to Maderna's Lulu from Italian radio recently, and found it compelling, except Ilona Steingruber's portrayal of the title role, which I found annoying...

High time I revisit the Boulez version on CD...
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 05:50:57 AM by ritter »
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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2014, 08:20:10 AM »
Video versions
- Evelyn Lear, Wiener Symphoniker & Karl Böhm, Otto Schenk (Theater an der Wien, 1962) / Unfinished version in 2 Acts !
- Teresa Stratas, Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris & Pierre Boulez, Patrice Chéreau (Paris, 1979)
- Julia Migenes, Metropolitan Orchestra & James Levine, John Dexter (NY Met, 1980)
- Christine Schäfer, London Philharmonic & Andrew Davis, Graham Vick (Glyndebourne, 1996) / Unfinished version in 2 Acts !
- Laura Aikin, Orchestra of the Zurich OH & Franz Walser-Möst, S-E Bechtolf (Zurich, 2002)
- Agneta Eichenholz, Orchestra of the Royal Opera & Antonio Pappano, Christof Loy (London ROH, 2009)
- Patricia Petibon, Orchestra del Liceu & Michael Boder, Olivier Py (Liceu Barcelona, 2010)
- Patricia Petibon, Wiener Philharmoniker & Marc Albrecht, Vera Nemirova (Salzburg Fest., 2010)
- Barbara Hannigan, Orchestre de la Monnaie & Paul Daniel, K. Warlikowski (Brussels, 2012)

Correction:  The version with Christine Schäfer is the 3-act version, the one with Laura Aiken 2-act.

Lulu's an obsession of mine, my favorite opera really, and I've got all of those video versions except the one with Stratas (never released commercially, though it is available as a "pirate"), the Aiken (I did borrow it from a friend.   Aside from being the two-act version, I absolutely hated the production), and the Hannigan (which will be in my next amazon order). 

Aside from the Zurich production, I don't much care for Loy's Covent Garden version (practically a concert version.  OK, maybe not really, but close enough).  All the others are at least good, my favorites being the Glyndebourne and Met versions, though the latter does show its age.  Too bad the 2010 revival with Marlis Petersen as Lulu wasn't a "Live in HD" and DVD release.  The Met's supposed to be doing a new William Kentridge production next season, with Petersen again.

My one "live" Lulu so far was Paul Curran's 2008 Lyric Opera of Chicago production, also with Petersen.  It's a shame that one wasn't taped, and AFAIK it hasn't been done elsewhere.
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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2014, 09:09:21 AM »
Correction:  The version with Christine Schäfer is the 3-act version, the one with Laura Aiken 2-act.

Yes, wrong line, thanks !

Lulu's an obsession of mine, my favorite opera really, and I've got all of those video versions except the one with Stratas (never released commercially, though it is available as a "pirate"), the Aiken (I did borrow it from a friend.   Aside from being the two-act version, I absolutely hated the production), and the Hannigan (which will be in my next amazon order). 

Aside from the Zurich production, I don't much care for Loy's Covent Garden version (practically a concert version.  OK, maybe not really, but close enough).  All the others are at least good, my favorites being the Glyndebourne and Met versions, though the latter does show its age.  Too bad the 2010 revival with Marlis Petersen as Lulu wasn't a "Live in HD" and DVD release.  The Met's supposed to be doing a new William Kentridge production next season, with Petersen again.

My one "live" Lulu so far was Paul Curran's 2008 Lyric Opera of Chicago production, also with Petersen.  It's a shame that one wasn't taped, and AFAIK it hasn't been done elsewhere.

I really don't understand the choice they made in Zurich, not to perform the complete version. A way to work 1/3rd less for this production maybe...

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2014, 09:43:23 AM »
I really don't understand the choice they made in Zurich, not to perform the complete version. A way to work 1/3rd less for this production maybe...

There a bonus feature on the DVD, with Franz Welser-Möst trying to give a tortured explanation for that choice, but it didn't make much sense to me.  Perhaps something got lost in translation...

The Vienna State Opera did the three-act version for the first time in Oct./Nov. 1983, with additional performances the following June and October.  For their next production, in 2000, they returned to the two-act torso, and used that version in their most recent (2005) performances.  For shame!
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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2014, 11:29:33 AM »
Another big fan of Lulu here; it's probably in my ten favorite operas. (Wendell, impressed that it's your favorite!)

I haven't seen many of the filmed versions, except for the Olivier Py production with Petibon, which I mostly liked. Petibon was new to me - hadn't seen her Baroque work - and now I want to see the other production with her as well. But I found the Py staging interesting. The sex seems appropriate, and you either love or hate the constantly moving set pieces; I thought they gave the opera a not-inappropriate lurid, carnival atmosphere.

I have seen it live at the Met a number of times - at least once every time it has appeared in the last few decades - with these singers: Julia Migenes (1985), Catherine Malfitano (1988), Christine Schäfer (2001), and Marlis Petersen (2010). I like John Dexter's Art Nouveau-inspired production, though after seeing William Kentridge's terrific production of The Nose, I think he might be an inspired choice.

All that said, I'm a big fan of Barbara Hannigan, after seeing her sing Ligeti and Grisey here, as well as the DVD of George Benjamin's Written on Skin (an excellent new opera), so I'm eager to see what she will do.

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« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 11:34:28 AM by Brewski »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2014, 12:31:32 PM »
Lulu was an opera which I must have seen three or four times in the 1990s, when Andrew Davis was acting as its advocate in London. I remember thinking that the musical language becomes so natural with familiarity -- as accessible as any opera by Mozart or Wagner.

Anyway more recently I decided to buy the Glyndebourne DVD and I was really disappointed by Graham Vick's production. My taste in opera has become very adventurous, I like regietheater,and really what I'm looking for is a production as bold as Calixto Bieito's Wozzeck. So if you find one, please say.

I think I prefer Wozzeck. The outsider idea is always attractive. But maybe I should be more open to feminism in Lulu. I'm open to being persuaded. Up to now I've had to content myself with these snippets

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/sJnmrKmA1gM" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/sJnmrKmA1gM</a>  <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/tUn6mMxMnek" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/tUn6mMxMnek</a>

I'd be interested to read the plays it was based on -- if there's a decent translation in English or French. And Wedekind sounds like a fun person to find out about:

Quote from: wikipedia
Wedekind's first major play, Frühlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening, 1891), which concerns sexuality and puberty among some young German students, caused a scandal, as it contained scenes of homoeroticism, implied group male masturbation, actual male masturbation, sado-masochism between a teenage boy and girl, rape, and suicide, as well as references to abortion.
 
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 12:40:41 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2014, 12:39:52 PM »
Anyway more recently I decided to buy the Glyndebourne DVD and I was really disappointed by Graham Vick's production. My taste in opera has become very adventurous, I like regietheater,and really what I'm looking for is a production as bold as Calixto Bieito's Wozzeck. So if you find one, please say.


Just found an excerpt - the final scene from Act I - of Olivier Py's production on YouTube. Not sure if it's "Bieito quality"  >:D but it's definitely not traditional. (I haven't seen the Vick.)

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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2014, 01:20:26 PM »
I'd be interested to read the plays it was based on -- if there's a decent translation in English or French. And Wedekind sounds like a fun person to find out about:

I've had this volume, The Lulu Plays and Other Sex Tragedies, translated by Stephen Spender, for about thirty years. 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lulu-Plays-Other-Tragedies/dp/1847491871/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414617146&sr=8-1&keywords=the+lulu+plays+wedekind

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lulu-Plays-Tragedies-German-Expressionism/dp/0714508683/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414617493&sr=1-3&keywords=the+lulu+plays

And, of course, there's George Perle's The Operas of Alban Berg, Volume II: Lulu.  The music theory's above my head (though I did at least skim those parts, and did learn a bit), but there's plenty of other interesting stuff.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 01:30:26 PM by Wendell_E »
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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2014, 11:57:15 AM »
OK so I've recently watched two more versions : Albrecht/Nemirova with Petibon from Salzburg 2010, and the video of the 1979 Boulez/Chéreau production with Stratas.

And I'm absolutely amazed by Boulez-Chéreau.

I mean, the Salzburg version is very fine, in some ways better than the quite vulgar one from Barcelona by the way; Petibon really excels in the role, the stage direction is quite literal, the cast is very good (despite the painter by Pavol Breslik, whom I found very weak on the dramatic side), the Wiener Philharmoniker add even more brilliance. Even if, and very personally, I find all that a little... well how to put it... very drame bourgeois, and, not as harsh as it is supposed to be, lacking a little character and tension...



But the 1979 video is... Well it is just a dream of an opera production. The kind of thing you can watch over and over again and always thinking that there's decidedly no possibility of doing any better (the kind of feeling you get at watching Christie & Villégier's Atys, or Barenboim & Chéreau's Tristan). The dramatic tension is mesmerizing, the cast is guided by Chéreau with a sens of urgency that does not fade in the spoken dialogues. And I don't think how Lulu could be more convincing than with Stratas singing her part. Singing, saying, playing, and always perfectly...

Also it seems quite obvious to me that this production has inspired most of the more recent ones...

All I could dream of now is for the Opéra de Paris to recreate this production (it's not impossible per se, but of course there's no hope it could be done for so many reasons). Anyway, it is impossible to understand how this has not been released again on DVD/BR. It is TV video quality, what is available around are unofficial and compressed files (with cropped image and sync issues...), but the source must be comparable to the Ring from Bayreuth, and therefore, for such an incredible document, it is clearly sufficient for a commercial release.

A few highlights :

 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/5ScJKYaPor0" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/5ScJKYaPor0</a>

 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/GoX2eEVSQHw" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/GoX2eEVSQHw</a>

 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/fy3_rpjnHk0" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/fy3_rpjnHk0</a>

I'll next watch Davis-Vick and Pappano-Loy. But I'll wait a couple weeks before that, it would be unfair to directly compare it with what I've just seen...
« Last Edit: November 02, 2014, 12:01:33 PM by Cosi bel do »

Offline pjme

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2014, 02:17:05 AM »
This is "only" the suite from Lulu - but it is an absolutely stunning performance.

<a href="http://youtube.com/v/MPxLIcR-CF4" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://youtube.com/v/MPxLIcR-CF4</a>



Offline ritter

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Re: Lulu (Alban Berg)
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2014, 04:19:23 AM »
This is "only" the suite from Lulu - but it is an absolutely stunning performance.

<a href="http://youtube.com/v/MPxLIcR-CF4" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://youtube.com/v/MPxLIcR-CF4</a>
Looks very interesting, pjme! Curious how soprano Anna Prohaska has as of late to some extent cornered the market for performances of the Lulu-Suite (she's done the piece with Boulez in Salzburg--also available on DVD), while AFAIK she hasn't performed the full opera...
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New "Lulu" at the Met
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2015, 01:54:09 PM »
Last night was fortunate to see the new William Kentridge production of Lulu at the Met, starring Marlis Petersen (who has said this will be the last run of the role for her). They are broadcasting it in movie theaters on Saturday, November 21, and all I can say is, if you like this opera - or don't know it and want to give it a try - this feels like something of a landmark.

Kentridge (the South African artist who also did Shostakovich's The Nose) has come up with a fascinating, multi-layered production with far too many interesting threads to even absorb at a single viewing: artistic, political, historical. Petersen gives the performance of a lifetime, singing the difficult part with great accuracy and expression, and the rest of the cast are mostly very good, too. (Susan Graham makes a surprisingly touching Countess Geschwitz.) Lothar Koenigs is the conductor, replacing James Levine, and does a splendid job, moving the score along swiftly (almost too swiftly, according comments from one orchestra member). And the orchestra sounds fantastic.

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« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 02:02:59 PM by Brewski »
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: New "Lulu" at the Met
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2015, 06:45:46 PM »
Last night was fortunate to see the new William Kentridge production of Lulu at the Met, starring Marlis Petersen (who has said this will be the last run of the role for her). They are broadcasting it in movie theaters on Saturday, November 21, and all I can say is, if you like this opera - or don't know it and want to give it a try - this feels like something of a landmark.

Kentridge (the South African artist who also did Shostakovich's The Nose) has come up with a fascinating, multi-layered production with far too many interesting threads to even absorb at a single viewing: artistic, political, historical. Petersen gives the performance of a lifetime, singing the difficult part with great accuracy and expression, and the rest of the cast are mostly very good, too. (Susan Graham makes a surprisingly touching Countess Geschwitz.) Lothar Koenigs is the conductor, replacing James Levine, and does a splendid job, moving the score along swiftly (almost too swiftly, according comments from one orchestra member). And the orchestra sounds fantastic.

--Bruce

I am somewhat apprehensive about this, since the Met's classic Lulu (which I've seen 3-4 times live, and have a DVD of) has been one of its most successful productions and entirely faithful to the score. From the previews I've seen, the sight of that woman with a bag over her head does not inspire confidence, and it's rare that any new production I've seen recently at the Met has been an improvement over a previous one. But though I won't go to the house, I'll see it in the movies, and doubtless it will come to PBS for me to make my own DVD. I am sanguine about not seeing Levine conduct. In the past he has hogged too much plum repertoire, and I gave up on him finally after seeing a Met Orchestra concert where the Brahms 3rd was dragged out to the point of inertia. If the orchestra member thought Koenings moved things along too swiftly, I remember the last Levine Ring I sat through where I was looking for some sign of a pulse. That said, Levine did pretty well with the Tannhäuser I saw at the movies last week, and for some reason the ever-eager over-eager Gelb has not yet replaced that excellent staging.
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Re: New "Lulu" at the Met
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2015, 10:36:35 PM »
...it's rare that any new production I've seen recently at the Met has been an improvement over a previous one.....I am sanguine about not seeing Levine conduct. In the past he has hogged too much plum repertoire.... the ever-eager over-eager Gelb has not yet replaced that excellent staging.
Now I'm curious what you thought of the '13 Falstaff with Levine and Maestri. For me, at the movie theatre simulcast, most fun I've ever had "at" the opera.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: New "Lulu" at the Met
« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2015, 08:39:14 AM »
Now I'm curious what you thought of the '13 Falstaff with Levine and Maestri. For me, at the movie theatre simulcast, most fun I've ever had "at" the opera.

I am nothing if not hyperbolic, and in my more rational moments I will freely admit that the Met has had a number of recent successes, among them the Falstaff you mention. That was on the whole a very clever production, down to and including the horse. (But why was the poor, patient beast yanked out of view mid-scene, and why did he not enjoy a curtain call?) Maestri owns the title role, and even the Maestro, if not the most quicksilver of Falstaff conductors, did not succumb to the kind of self-indulgent luxuriating in the sounds of his beautiful orchestra that has so bothered me in his Wagner and Strauss. (Stephanie Blythe, however, should not be pointing fingers at anyone else's avoirdupois.) I think the production was at its best in Alice's kitchen scene, laundry basket, kitchen table with tablecloth for the lovers, radio for Falstaff's lute, turkey, and all (this beast also deprived of a curtain call), and least in the final scene where the direction and set came across as flat and uninspired. Much as I enjoyed Zeffirelli's Renaissance-inspired staging, this one had both visual interest almost throughout and any number of directorial touches that illuminated the action rather than competed with it. Along with the new Barber of Seville, this was one of the best new productions the Met has seen. The current Trovatore and Carmen are pretty good too. I'll give the Las Vegas-style Rigoletto a pass if only because it is so brashly inventive.

Others, however - the Traviata, Boris Godunov, Parsifal, Peter Grimes, Wozzeck, Butterfly, Otello, and perhaps above all the ghastly, ridiculously expensive Ring - seem to me Eurotrashy mistakes in every way. I don't know why the Met can't conserve money by just refurbishing its good, classic stagings and feels such a need to substitute these new versions that no one likes and which just will get replaced in a few years anyway. Now I hear they're going to retire the perfectly good Meistersinger with a Eurotrashy version from Salzburg or something like that. At least now, however, I can pay $25 an opera at the movies rather than $100 for a balcony seat at the house, not counting transportation and dinner. I just head to the nearest participating multiplex 10 miles away, buy my admittedly overpriced bag of popcorn, and sit in my plush movie theater seat without having to deal with the hassles of the big city. It's the best idea Gelb has had during his tenure.
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