Sunday, March 9, 2008

Grimey Moon Grimes

[I do realize that this title makes no sense, it is just that this short post will be about Peter Grimes and I always loved that line from "Ballad for the Sad Young Men"]

There has been lots of talk lately about the new production at the MET of Britten's "Peter Grimes". I'm afraid I am going to miss it, but it looks very interesting and I am sorry that this will be the case. It is directed by John Doyle who made waves with his innovative staging of "Sweeny Todd", and later is a new production of "Company". The production, and most notably its set, seem to be getting lots of talk. You can read about it here:

Tomassini's Piece

Maury's Piece One

Maury's Piece Two

Of course the caddy crew doesn't like it, but I don't put too much stock in that...they don't seem to like this incredible and striking piece to start with, and are usually resistant to new ideas, particularly at temple of stagnation like the MET. To me the photos look fantastic and seem to really capture what the piece is about (this might be the problem, sometimes folks find it difficult to understand sceneography that is not a backdrop to narrative, but rather an active player in the interpretation of the work). That said, though it sounds admirable and interesting, the final coup-du-te√Ętre that was quickly removed, presumably by Gelb, does seem like a perhaps miscalculation. It is hard to make what has seemed up to that point like a one layer piece, to all the sudden become a meta-production in the final moments. I applaud the MET for doing this production though, I think Gelb is really trying to move the MET into the last century finally (maybe they will make it into this one some day). Something I notice and wonder about is that the MET tends to hire, with the exception of Mark Morris, cutting edge theater directors when they want to make new productions, apparently forgetting that opera and theater are two different forms and folks with lots of talent and experience in theater are not necessarily prepared to direct opera. This is common all around, but without fail at the MET. Take Mary Zimmerman or Julie Taymor. Hopefully they will realize that there are great innovative opera directors out there. For instance there is the Willie Decker production of "Grimes" that is tremendously riveting and even more adventursome (minus the final scene!) that Mr. Doyles. (Decker also has a fantastic "Boris" and will direct "Death in Venice" soon at Liceu which I hope to catch before returning to the States for Charpentier).

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