Author Topic: P&M  (Read 4602 times)

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Offline knight66

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P&M
« on: May 14, 2007, 05:22:32 AM »
Lis.....Specially for you, from The Times, (London) reads like a good 'un.


Pelléas et Mélisande Richard Morrison at Covent Garden


Slow, sepulchral and strenuously symbolic, Debussy’s 1902 masterpiece has never exactly been the people’s choice in grand opera. For one thing, it draws out a very simple plot – infatuated prince frolics with wife of half-brother, who kills him – for three very sombre hours.

But if you see Pelléas et Mélisande only once, see this production. Stanislas Nordey’s staging, imported by the Royal Opera from Salzburg, has its pretentious moments. Yet in the main roles it also has three performers who sing wonderfully – colouring Debussy’s deceptively simple, one-note-per-syllable lines with consummate subtlety – and act with startling integrity.

Startling is the right word, too. Far from being the usual weepy victim of the brutish Golaud, the mesmerising Angelika Kirchschlager portrays Mélisande as an independent spirit, strong and manipulative, who is well aware of her disruptive effect on this desiccated dynasty. You get the feeling that she has done this before (after all, how did she acquire the crown that she chucks away when Golaud discovers her?).

And this sense of watching an eternally recurring, archetypal tragedy of adultery and revenge, rather than a drama rooted in a specific locale, is emphasised by the stage designs. Kirchschlager wears a blood-red dress while the royal family are dressed, or rather trapped, in absurd, white clown pantaloons. As she starts to cast her spell, so her red gradually infects the sombre blocks of Emmanuel Clolus’s set, which open like medieval triptychs.

In turn, their contents – dozens of reproductions of Golaud’s letter, or Mélisande herself pinned on the wall amid 38 other identical red dresses – also suggest that we are watching patterns of events that have been, and will be, played out again and again. Indeed, the headless, white-clad mannequins who spookily clutter the stage at the end could be all the luckless Pelléases who ever lived.

The cast’s brilliant acting reinforces this notion of people trapped in a preordained catastrophe. At first there is no eye contact, let alone physical contact, between them. It’s as if they are propelled by external force rather than inner urges.

Even in the famous balcony scene, as he wraps himself in Mélisande’s hair, Simon Keenlyside’s outstanding Pelléas seems more intent on unlocking his own psyche – striking a series of narcissistic ballet poses – than in making love to another person. Keenlyside’s singing is astonishing. In a part often taken by tenors, his baritone soars with glorious clarity and power.

Gerald Finlay’s Golaud is no less majestically sung, especially when his self-control snaps and he flings Mélisande around by her fateful tresses. The minor parts are admirably taken by Robert Lloyd (a sinister Arkel in black glasses), Catherine Wyn-Rogers and, especially, by the assured young treble George Longworth as Golaud’s traumatised son.

The icing on the cake is Simon Rattle’s conducting. Shimmeringly luminous, suggestive yet understated, and constantly ebbing and flowing, the orchestral sound-world he conjures seems to distil the essence of this hauntingly beautiful yet elusive opera.

DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Michel

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Re: P&M
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2007, 05:43:28 AM »
I suppose the only problem is that the opera itself sucks. And so does Rattle's afro.

Offline Brewski

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Re: P&M
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2007, 06:07:26 AM »
Thanks, Mike, for posting this.  I've heard the opera twice, at the Met, and like it tremendously, although it doesn't seem like a "typical opera" in the usual sense that people use the term.  But this production sounds sensational. 

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

karlhenning

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Re: P&M
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2007, 06:11:34 AM »
Looks like a triumph for Rattle (apart from the coiffure, I mean).

Michel

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Re: P&M
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2007, 06:43:11 AM »
In saying this, I will probably go and watch it as its only down the road....

Offline knight66

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Re: P&M
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2007, 07:01:40 AM »
We will know if you have been when Marx becomes Maeterlinck. You can give us an update on Rattle's hair.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Hector

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Re: P&M
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2007, 05:02:42 AM »
In saying this, I will probably go and watch it as its only down the road....

Somebody who can blow good money on the complete works of Sir Georg Solti can, obviously, well afford it.

Get a good seat and tell us all about it ;D

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: P&M
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2007, 07:47:32 AM »
Thanks for posting, Mike.  A friend of mine was there last week. Loathed the production but thought it was musically excellent. The review makes it seem a good deal more interesting though. And I do love the opera. I should try and go.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline knight66

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Re: P&M
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2007, 08:23:21 AM »
The reviewer helps make sense of the production in a way I am sure would have floated right past me had I gone to see it myself. He makes it sound like an interesting and intelligent production. Odd though, unless I keep missing it, he is silent about Melisand's singing.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Michel

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Re: P&M
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2007, 10:39:29 AM »
I just revisted this opera tonight. Bit of a waste of time.

karlhenning

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Re: P&M
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2007, 10:44:51 AM »
You've just got to go ready to bathe in the aristocratic sensuality, Michel8)

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: P&M
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2007, 03:05:22 AM »
Looks like a triumph for Rattle (apart from the coiffure, I mean).

Rattle simply rattles me.

ZB
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Offline Brewski

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Re: P&M
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2007, 09:34:15 AM »
Another review of the London production by Anne Ozorio on MusicWeb:

Pelléas review

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Hector

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Re: P&M
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2007, 05:18:13 AM »
Rattle simply rattles me.

ZB

Did you translate this from the English?

H