I never thought I would say that I hated an opera production. Even the poor Met performances I've attended have never made me feel like I've been insulted.
But I loathed this production, I hated its relentless vulgarity and how it insulted my intelligence.
So we began with a thinly veiled "black mass" showcasing a Luciferian puppet complete with a crown that had the all seeing eye on its third eye chakra. Subtle. Then we had another character come out as the Whore of Babylon complete with imps wearing wigs mimicking the horns of Baphomet. To top it off, the whole black magic shindig was completed with an orgy.
I wish I was kidding but I'm not. That is what this opera subjected its viewers. All under the puerile guise of being "outrageous". No, No, NO, they were not being outrageous. I could have seen what they showed on late night Cable. I could access hard core pornography on the web at any time, if I wanted. But that is not what I wanted to see in Opera. I highly doubt Andre Campra, the poor late composer, thought that his opera celebrated Lucifer.
I read an interview regarding the production beforehand. The creators were all about giving opera comique to contemporary audiences. Audiences who didn't want to watch the same old historical piece. Well, this viewer wanted to see an historical production. I would have liked to see the opera staged in a fashion that the royalty of the early 18th century saw it. What was wrong with pretty costumes done in a comedy dell'arte style? It still could have been cheeky. I mean little Bo Beeps dressed in cute pastel dresses surrounded by masks can be cheeky. No one needed to see topless women. Yes, there were female dancers missing their bras.
But no, they had to push the YOU ARE IN HELL!!!!! style. So everything was a garish red. EVERYTHING. From the lighting to the sets to the ugly costumes.
All of this, I could have overlooked if Les Arts Florissant gave me good singers. BUT NO!!!! The supermodel types are back with their shitty voices that can't be overheard over the orchestra. Which is really poor because Baroque orchestras are quite a bit smaller than what Verdi employed. Only three singers in the whole production were worthy, they were Rachel Redmond, Marcel Beekman and Cyril Auvity. The runners up were Elodie Fonnard and Jonathan McGovern. But really, besides the three who could actually sing and be heard over the orchestra, the rest should leave the stage...forever.
But the orchestra did well. At times the chorus was very good. When they were not required to hold black mass orgies.
All I can say is AVOID this production. But if you have to see it, then go. But don't say you haven't been warned. I'm hoping I can one day see a truly worthy Opera Comique staged in the beautiful, witty and sarcastic style that royalty of the day expected. But this wasn't it.
Lucifer Welcomes You to the Opera! See, I wasn't lying.
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