Jun 24, 2009

Demofoonte, part II

First post about the June 16 performance of Demofoonte in Paris (Opéra Garnier) here.

III. The staging

Salzburg May 28, 2009

On paper, I like where Cesare Lievi went with his sets: a deconstructed Greek temple, where everything is upside down, with slight changes between the acts that focus on small details.

The concept would have worked brilliantly, hadn't it been for the complete lack of any actor's direction, an unimaginative scenography and an horrendous use of the stage.

Basically nothing ever comes to life in this context, and all it does really is focus on the repetitive aspect of Jommelli's music. Not exactly the best way to present his Demofoonte to a public that is not familiar with it. It seems to be a trend among stage directors these days, to do everything in their power to ruin the music and the singing. Muti should never have accepted that...

Salzburg, May 28, 2009 

IV. The AROP gala In Paris, if you're a wealthy opera geek, the AROP is the select club that will allow you to attend opera performances amongst high-end friends, with a beautiful dinner at the end of the evening, free champagne and canapés during the intermissions, and an Opera House specially decorated for the event.

Obviously this kind of evening is the perfect showcase for your latest designer dress, and you expect men to wear a tuxedo with a neck bow (or if you're a rebel, a tie). Anyway, this is the time to be glamorous among your fabulous friends.

On the down side, this is the night the Opera House is guaranteed not to be filled, because inevitably, some will have better things to do than attend the performance, and their expensive seats will remain desperately empty. Quite a shame, considering the whole run of Demofoonte is full. But hey, when rich and famous, who cares about waste? And who cares about the vulgare pecus?

Anyway, the auditorium was obviously not full, and the public reacted at the end of the performance with the appropriate restraint and elegance: not too much noise and certainly no bravo, this was not the time and place to be exuberant and lavish.

Fortunately, the 4th balcony was packed with ordinary people who were a bit louder and more enthusiastic, but I must say the applause was mainly directed at Riccardo Muti.

Further readings:

- "Les faux débuts de Riccardo Muti à l'opéra de Paris", June 19, Le Monde, M.A.Roux
"Mais qu'allait-il faire dans cette galère ? C'est le sentiment qui domine à l'issue des quatre heures de spectacle consacrées au rarissime opéra napolitain Demofoonte, de Niccolo Jommelli (1714-1774), avec lequel le chef d'orchestre Ricardo Muti a fait, à bientôt 68 ans, ses débuts à l'Opéra de Paris. Car il n'est pas sûr que ce Demofoonte (prochaines représentations au Palais Garnier les 18, 20 et 21 juin) marque durablement la rencontre tant attendue de Paris avec le maestro italien."

- "Le jardin napolitain de Riccardo Muti", Webthea
- "La première française de l’opéra napolitain", June 16, ResMusica, Francesca Guerrasio


Maria said...

Pity that Muti chose such a boring piece of music to appear in front of the Parisian public in the Opera House for the first time.
What did the French press write about this performance?
The decoration was very impressive, I should say, mainly owing to the colour lights! Good taste indeed.
Thank you for the complete report.

Extatic said...

As for the reaction of the French press, Muti was basically criticized for choosing a second-rate opera.

I've added some links in the post to the reviews.

Maria, Athens. said...

Thank you Extatic for your answer.
Unfortunately I do not speak French and you are my only source of information concerning the artistic events in France, especially Paris, because you write in English!
I'd be grateful if you added a little more - the summary - of the comments of the french press, if possible. In the meanwhile, it is
funny how much the local press in Ravenna try to praise this opera so as people go to see it. I can understand that it is business to them but they should be objective.