Further gleanings from the July edition of opera.
Minnesota Opera have just produced a new operatic version of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath; not the most obvious subject for an opera but Ricky Ian Gordon's new piece seems to have gone down well. Let's add it to the list of new operas we won't see in the UK in a hurry - Dead Man Walking anyone? Meanwhile in San Francisco they've been reviving Lou Harrison's Young Caesar; billed in 1971 as the first gay puppet opera. Now there is a first!
Seattle Opera's Giulio Cesare seems to have suffered from the usual producer-itis; there was a ballet troupe to keep the proles happy and nearly a third of the opera was cut.
In London, Second Movement produced a programme of 1-act pieces including Shostakovich's completion of Benjamin Fleischmann's Rothschild's Violin. The young singers included Hanna Pedley who made a memorable Romeo at Nevill Holt recently.
We missed Handel's Imeneo when Cambridge Handel Opera Group did it in May, much to my profound annoyance. I've always had a curious fascination with this strange late Handel opera. Opera's reviewer seemed quite taken with the production, which makes missing it all the more annoying.
We missed Pelleas et Melisande at Covent Garden partly because I'd already read the Opera's reviews of the Salzburg original. Roger Parker's description of the costumes as 'prototypes for an ice-spectacular called Liberace Eats Pies in Space' seems to have been pretty near the mark as far as I can see.
There's been much discussion about the edition of Macbeth being used at Glyndebourne (basically 1865 with the addition of Macbeth's final aria). What no-one seems to really comment on is that this solution is essentially Fritz Busch's solution which was used, I think, in earlier Glyndebourne productions. Rodney Milnes does not think that the 1845 finale is as effective as the later one, but frankly I've always found the 1865 concluding chorus horribly trite and preferred the 1845 original's conclusion, ending just with Macbeth's death.
Michael Kennedy described Benjamin Paul Griffith's Tadzio, in ENO's Death in Venice as singularly unenticing; though he does have the grace to admit that he cannot speak with authority on the matter. I must confess that I thought he made rather an appealing, if mature, Tadzio.
We Hear that.. has the usual clutch of tantalising hints at the future. William Christie is conducting Herold's Zampa at the Opera Comique in March 2008 (I can remember playing the overture in the school orchestra, many, many years ago). David McVicar is continuing seeming like Scottish Opera's house producer, he's doing La Traviata there in 2008-09. Paul Rouders is doing an opera based on Lars von Trier's film Dancing in the Dark. Interesting indeed.
More bizarrely, Graham Vick's Verona production of La Traviata is being staged in Birmingham at the National Arena.
Oh, and the new slimline Deborah Voigt is doing Salome for Opera Pacific.