10 Comments
Jul 2, 2023Liked by Leidmotief

Thank you for pointing out what many of us have felt for decades.

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I am a great lover of Wagner's works who would not even consider going anywhere near Bayreuth. The productions are unwatchable, and not worth the cost of going there.

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Jul 2, 2023Liked by Leidmotief

Thank you so much for posting.

Wieland is very much missed!!!

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How many times was the despicable Rat chorus performed?

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It means that reggietheatre has nearly shut down theatre pre and post-covid and audiences and artists are tired of it. If we want to run a solvent theatre, try talent and beauty~opulence as well as vulgarity and simpleminded concepts that reduce to Freudian cartoonishness. Cutting edge art is a delicate thing. It can't just be design done by people who are mentally unstable.

Also, the canon is sacrosanct. We don't paint over Bernini sculptures, we should not reinvent story lines juxtaposed on top of genius works. We have so many new theatrical toys and bells and whistles at our fingertips in this futuristic era, we can do things Wagner never imagined with theatre. Why do we have to go basic with mocking concepts? Opera is not a child that does well with ridicule. These perversions really don't appeal to the majority of people. It would be beneficial at this tenuous juncture to go for magnificence. If you are not selling tickets, why must you keep doing the same wrong headed things? LEARN.

Putting the gods in zoot suits is literally done to death. Postwar, post apocalyptic, yawn we've seen it a thousand times. Ruining Boheme with Rent also clears theatres out. STOP people. If it were a winning strategy ticket sales would not be a problem. There is nothing novel or edgy about any of it. Find people who have talent to do production design. Its not that hard. The people with talent are going broke and destitute while posers who want to shock empty theatres are prevailing year after year. Try something NEW. Try TALENT.

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I find that you are unduly harsh and one-sided about the productions at Bayreuth and Regietheater in general. No composer or librettist is more open to interpretation and re-interpretation than Wagner. He did not write hermetically sealed scores and librettos. He wrote about the great emotions and conflicts of life and society, placing them at first in a mythical milieu, but allowing their truths to be released to a broader spectrum of interpretation that would resonate with future generations. You fail to mention that directors you now laud, such as Patrice Chereau, were vilified for their Wagner productions, physically attacked on the street. Now, of course, you admire those pioneers.

As far as Regietheater goes, Barrie Kosky's recent production of Der Meistersinger in Bayreuth is the most brilliant version of that work I have ever seen. Stefan Herheim's production of Parsifal was also brilliant and different. Yuval Sharon's production of Lohengrin rejuvenated that work. Bayreuth may be taking chances, but being on the cutting edge can create great things. Wagner's work is too vibrant and relevant to be treated as a museum piece.

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There is no such thing as Regietheater. As a term it is delusional and confusing. It means different things to different people. That’s why I never use the term. What you have is : good stagecraft/directing and dilettantism. Good stagecraft/directing presupposes a director who understands the spiritual core of the piece and tries to convey it to the public in a personal way. That way the music, as carrier of the spiritual load, is reinforced by the staging which is the ideal situation. This is what makes audiences happy. Dilettantism is everything that does not comply or goes against this rule. You will find dilettantism in conservative productions as well as in quirky productions.

I always was an admirer of Chéreau. The loonies that tried to shut him up in 1976 are the same loonies that curse the so-called Regietheater of today. There are no bad directors. Only bad productions. And every director has a bad day. There are no general rules. Every production has to be analysed on a project by project basis, free of bias, in accordance with your own sensibilities.

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Why is it that other works of art can be "museum pieces" and still draw crowds? Some theatrical experiments are good, but when there is nothing but a solid diet of vulgarity... when the singers are bravo'd and the production and director are boo'd, that is the audience saying they feel RIPPED off. Not challenged. The people have been through economic ruin and plague. WHY MUST PEOPLE INFLICT UGLY DYSTOPIAN RUIN on them all in the theatre??? Pseudointellectual twaddle is not art. If you aren't selling tickets, stop blaming the people. Stop blaming opera. Stop blaming everyone but the untalented elephant in the room.

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May 22·edited May 22

To satisfy your analogy of opera as a 'museum piece', one should probably exhume the original sets and cast for Wagner's Ring, as well as Wagner himself, the director. That might accommodate your miserly view of opera's legitimacy. I have seen many magnificent examples of so-called Regietheater, at Bayreuth and elsewhere. Without the serious endeavors of directors and dramaturgs to unleash the ongoing relevance of a work, opera would lose much of its impact as an art form.

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May 22·edited May 23Liked by Jos Hermans

I hate the idea of "museum piece" descriptions. That is a concept someone with no idea of the history of the artform came up with. I have never thought of opera in those terms. I was quoting the person who used it in a comment before to make opera feel small and antiquated. There is nothing miserly about interpreting a work with its original intention as a masterpiece, literarily or conceptually. Nobody needs to give Carmen a side-arm to make things right. She is NOT a freedom fighter, she is a smuggler. This is what I mean by re-writing the text. Directors and production designers don't know enough about interpretation to "riff" on it these days. Have a conversation with one and get back to me. I have been continually appalled at the people who are hired. What makes a director with half of an idea of the libretto a great interpretor of the work? And why don't people like it? If it is as great as you say, why are theatres constantly whining to the press about poor attendance? Then we are punished by others who then decide the whole audience is stupid so that we must only do broadway shows (that are also not politically correct but nobody has noticed this yet). These are the morons who are ruining opera right now. We have never before had CEOs and ADs whining to the press (DEADLY) about poor ticket sales in BIG houses. Obviously they are doing something WRONG. If a singer isn't being hired, they go back to the drawing board to try to figure out why. If an AD cannot sell out a house, they TOO need to go back to the drawing board and figure out WHY. Creating an exciting piece of theatre isn't that mysterious. Hiring a director that the audience boos is a SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE THAT THE PEOPLE HATE THIS DIRECTION artistically.

Maybe we want to see Wagner's work and not the work of some artschool mediocre who has no consideration for the singer, the text, the artform, and doesn't know a leitmotif from their arsehole? Some of us know that they are this thick because we prepare this repertoire all the time and we watch in awe the visions and tantrums. We know when they don't know what they are doing. I have a singer the director told that the "text doesn't matter" and this was in a big opera house. We are sick of these people. SICK SICK SICK Of all of them. Ponnelle didn't have a hard time filling a theatre. Visconti and Zeffirelli didn't have a hard time filling a theatre. Rudolf Bing wasn't whining to the press. He knew how to do his job.

Opera is not medicine that must be administered to an uncooperative child (the audience). It is not a political platform for people who are confused about their pronouns to work out their personal drama. That particular dilemma doesn't even work in German. It is meant to be transcendent and not everyone thinks that the underbelly or the sewer is the place for those emotions to be found. We have put up with this constant and unending ruination of our artistic "fach"for years now, and we see these types of visions ruining the future of opera. Before you decide to tell me about drama you are speaking with someone who was on the coaching faculty of the Actors Studio MFA programme. I spent 17 years at Strassberg. Don't even start. That was after Juilliard and before a career in medicine and a career working with top singers around the world and preparing whole productions.

The director then blames opera because the people don't get 'his' (usually) vision. Why is it that opera survived so many wars and so many centuries before NOW? What are people doing "NOW" that is chasing audiences away???????

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