Showing posts from October, 2007

Mozart - Mitridate, re di Ponto

La Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday October 21 2007

Conductor: Mark Wigglesworth. Production: Robert Carsen. Sets: Radu Boruzescu. Costumes: Miruna Boruzescu. Mitridate: Bruce Ford. Aspasia: Mary Dunleavy. Sifare: Myrtò Papatanasiu. Farnace: Bejun Mehta. Ismene: Veronica Cangemi. Marzio: Maxim Mironov. Arbate: Jeffrey Francis. Orchestre symphonique de la Monnaie.

It's always interesting to have a Robert Carsen production in your season's schedule, but Carsen is no more infallible than anyone else and this was, I thought, not one of his successes - a pity with such a strong, even cast. For this new Brussels Mitridate, he served up our old "friend" the "contemporary war update" i.e. with people in battledress and helmets, cradling machine guns. Apart from the fact that these productions all look the same (especially as opera seria plots all seem much the same as well) and we've got used to them since the 80s, I think if this had to be done to Mitridate, Peter Sell…

Damon Albarn - Monkey: journey to the west

Paris Châtelet, Saturday September 29, Wednesday October 3 2007

Conductor: André de Ridder. Conception and production: Chen Shi-Zheng. Visuals, costumes, sets and cartoons: Jamie Hewlett. Monkey King: Fei Yang. Acrobats, martial arts performers, Chinese opera singers, orchestra and chorus of Damon Albarn.

Monkey: Journey to the West is billed as opera but is hard to write up if “legitimate” opera is all you know, or, like me, this is the first time you’ve ever heard of Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz and Blur. So I’m going to cheat and quote a few professional critics, better equipped than I for the job.

As The Times’ critic wrote when the show appeared earlier this year in Manchester: “…the enchanting Monkey: Journey to the West is no closer to opera (at least as understood in the West) than it is to circus, dance, mime or a martial arts movie. Indeed, few of the 45-strong Chinese cast do any singing. But genre distinctions don’t really matter. Brilliantly masterminded by the Chin…