Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me

I think at this point it’s safe to say that I’m not going to catch up with my concert blogging. Though this week should be a slower one – only two concerts on the schedule (the least so far). But given that I’m already over a week behind, it’s foolish to think that all the concerts I’ve seen since Saturday the 24th (aside from the one or two (I’m barely even keeping track anymore) concerts that I have blogged about that have happened since then) will get the blog space/time that they deserve. So, without further ado:

Opera Round-Up:

Sunday, May 25th

Went to see the Komische Oper Berlin put on Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier with Derek and Maggie. This should not be confused with the Deutsche Oper performance of Der Rosenkavalier that I attended last summer (with Derek and two British women). Though this particular staging was running last summer, I never got around to seeing it. The Komische Oper is the 3rd opera company in Berlin. This was actually my first time attending – I went to no concerts there last summer. Mostly because they put everything on in German, and I had no particular desire to see/hear, say, The Barber of Seville translated into German, with no over-titles. The Komische Oper also occasionally puts out all-out musicals as well, and also other kind of opera-in-review types of set ups.

This particular staging has been running since sometime in 2006, actually, and doesn’t appear to be showing signs of stopping (I don’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of this though – I’m just assuming since it’s one of the most popular operas of all time and in a tourist city like Berlin with a constantly changing but ever-interested-in-seeing-an-opera-since-we’re-totally-like-in-Berlin audience…). It’s a good staging. The singers seemed to be picked as much for the acting skills as their singing – which is not to say that they were bad – they were really good, actually (though I was skeptical throughout until the 3 women did pretty well nail the culminating trio).

A good example was the Baron – first of all, the man was gigantic. Easily a head taller than anyone else on stage. And his acting was Muppet-esque. Which, of course, as anyone else who was raised on the Muppets the way we (at least Nate, Jack, and I, anyway) knows, is awesome. He even kind of sounded like a Muppet. A Muppet who couldn’t project. Too bad – his acting was hilarious, but he just seemed incapable of singing at the necessary volume (I almost wanted to re-reference the Muppets there, but remembered, that, no, the audience for The Muppet Show was just more Muppets, so they probably weren’t worried about how well, say, Sam the Eagle, could be heard in the back of the hall (though, for the record, we were sitting close to the stage, so it was not a back-of-the-hall issue (though it may well be that his voice was somewhere above and behind us (I got all the damn clarinet I needed though – if there little cones splashed our from all the instruments in the pit, my seat must have been smack dead center in the middle of the loudest possible section of the clarineticone)))).

I should be heading back to the Komische Oper one more time before I leave, and look forward to it – the band probably wasn’t up to the level of the other two operas either, but they still play the shit out of their music.

Friday, May 30th

The Deutsche Oper’s Zauberfloete. An interesting piece – contains some of Mozart’s probably-best music (say, the Overture…), but also some of his boringest. According to the program notes, this may have something to do with the limitations of the troupe that he initially wrote it for. I went to this alone, having failed to convince anyone to go with me. I don’t recommend going to The Magic Flute by yourself (while there, I convinced myself that I was there with blog – but no, I didn’t convince myself of that – I though about it, and decided that that was bullshit and I should have waited until other people would have gone. Why? Not sure exactly – except that I think it’s obvious to everyone what the difference is between going to, say, Lohengrin by yourself versus any given Classical comic opera.

It was also, maybe not officially, but also some kind of children’s night. It’s bad enough going to the opera and having to deal with (come into any contact with) old people, but then to have to deal with a bunch of damn kids too. Almost too much for a middle-of-the-road angry young man like myself. But, then, at the same time, it’s important to get the kids out to the opera, and there need to be normals there too to teach them the folkways of decorum. (Actually, I was talking to one of my classmates this morning about why he ended up not going to the opera this night and his final excuse was that he hadn’t had enough time to change into his nice clothes – I was, of course, in a pair of remarkably threadbare dark blue work pants (worn for a whole year in Boston nearly everyday until I got too skinny for them, and then worn again almost the whole year in Miami when I got fat again) with a hole in the crotch (since mended) and a beige pocket t-shirt – the same “outfit,” in fact, that I wore to Jazz at Lincoln Center with Jack and Mandy back in January and actually (really, actually!) felt bad about being so underdressed in then (even though there was no hole in the crotch back then either (I think I actually went so far as to brag to Jack and Mandy about the fact that, even though by all rational standards there should have been a hole in the crotch, there wasn’t (so much for that (though, again, they’re fixed – the next test for them being a run through my Gastgeberin’s brand new Washing-Machine-of-German-Manufacture which has steadily been reminding me through the month of May (and now on into June) that most of my t-shirts are older than I realized)))). Ha, dressing up.

The Deutsche Oper also rocked some amazing black face. I’d forgotten about such things. I’m honestly not sure what to make of it. It seems, like, kind of wrong, since it was clearly not ironic (not nearly as ambiguous in intent as Astronaut Lohengrin). Also because they gave one of the speaking parts for one of the dudes that leads Tamino and Papageno through the castle of ordeals to an actual black person – I wonder if he had any thoughts about it. The depth of variety of black-person-haircut wigs that the DO had was something of a marvel. But having them don sunglasses – shades, as it were – seems to have crossed a line, if the blackface-in-the-first-place wasn’t line-crossing on its own.

Actually, going to Magic Flute by myself is comparable in a way to what it’s like for me to go to the beach by myself back in Miami – it’s something that I can’t do without engaging with the fact that I’m doing it. When I first get to the beach (having bicycled there) and found a spot, my first cycle of thoughts is inevitably “Well, you’ve brought yourself to the beach. Here you are. What are you doing here? (‘Actually, all is not well. What am I doing here…’). Similarly, when Magic Flute first got rolling, I had to first address the fact that I was there. Which doesn’t normally happen with most things. This means, of course, that once I get back to Miami I will try to find funding to start a “Mozart on the Beach” program.


Blogger Jack said...

Okay, I give up. HOLE, hole, "hole in the crotch," no "W." Jeez. I shouldn't read this at work.

I'd just as soon not ever see operas involving blackface, but as far as interactions with other races go I guess that's pretty benign by German standards.

6/03/2008 9:03 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

Corrected. Yesterday was a bad day for me and typos, I guess.

6/04/2008 3:25 AM  

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