Saturday, April 30, 2016

Elektra - The Afterward

Elecktra was everything it was built up to be, and more.

I am accustomed to have a couple of intermissions and seeing backstage as sets are being changed.  But this was an opera in one act.  The Met arranged for a short pre-recorded video with the conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Elektra, Nina Stemme.

Kelvin wondered who the man was who came on stage  after the performance and during the applause, for we hadn't seen him during the show.  Kelvin was right.  The conductor joined the singers on stage, but this was the first time we had seen him during the erformance.  No "Maestro to the pit", no cameras following him to the podium, no bowing to the audience from the pit, no cameras focusing on him as he conducted.

We only viewed the stage.  And there was no overture.  I take that back.  There was an overture.  What we saw was women preparing to clean the courtyard of the palace, one of the sweeping the steps on her knees.  What we heard was the scratching of the broom.  Scratch.  Scratch.  Scratch.

I began to wonder about the artistic merit of the sound which seem interminable.

Scratch.  Scratch.  Scratch.  No sound from the orchestra.  Many women entered the room, all throwing sand onto the cobble stones to be swept or mopped, though we couldn't yet tell which.

I was familiar with the characters, having done so much pre-viewing reading, and then watching a u-tube version of the opera last night helped as well.  In fact, I liked comparing that first madness scene in the courtyard with what I had seen the night before.  There was less physical violence in today's production.  And the costuming was more abstract.
Nina Stemme as Elektra

Kelvin said he wished that he had been more "up" on his Greek mythology.  I don't know if that would have helped.  The synopsis that was handed out at the door was about all a person would need.  However, getting that in hand as you turn in your ticket, doesn't give much time for reading, and then the theatre is darkened by the time Kelvin is settled in and ready to read.

What did I like about today's performance?

1. I always love the close up's on the singer's faces as they are forming the vowels that they will linger on, or watch them put the last consonant on a word.  I do not tired of that.

2. I want to clap at the end of a show.  I always want to, but that seems a little ridiculous, sitting in a theatre with the performers on the other side of the continent.  I did love the standing ovation from the crowd who was at the Met today. I imagined that some of that applause for them was mine.

3. There was a green necklace on Klytamnestra's neck that was to die for.  You would have to have been there to know what I mean. Where does the Met come up with a piece of jewellery like that?

See that necklace on Waltraud Meier, the middle figure?
... green gems, stunning ...

I thought only Wyona could find pieces like that in foreign markets.
4. The curtain call -- what would that have stood out?  Perhaps it was that the women involved in that first scene all had a chance to take their bow and the audience was loving them.  But it was more than that.  Each of the five singers took their own bow, with different gestures and were equally loved by the audience.

5. The producer of this version of Elektra does not have her die at the end.  After her triumphal dance she sit stone-like as the orchestra finishes the music.  That was nice. Better to see someone live than someone die.

6. There was a lot going on in in the orchestra.  The pit was packed with 20 more musicians than it normally holds.  Some of the instrumental runs just put shivers up my spine.  We only had one shot of the orchestra.  That was when the camera panned out and we could see them, applauding as though the performers on stage, as though they had been part of the audience.  Rehearsals must have been a joy.  Do you know it is legendary, that during the intermissions, the Met orchestra go out and have a game of poker?  No poker today.  Just one act.  One critique said he had no catharsis.  You be the judge.

7.  Eric Owens (Orest) had been interviewed last week during the intermission of Robert Devereaux  He had asked where he gets his energy to enter later in the opera.  He said something like it is easy for he just has to feed off of the energy of the singers who are already on stage in intense action.  I was thinking about that when he made his entrance.  Such power!

Well, that is it for April!

May is full of theatre and dance.

May 7 - Stratford Festival HD - The Adventures of Pericles
May 19 - In the Gallery - Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse
May 21 - Hangmen which got the Olivier Award for the Best New Play 2016
May 23 - BBC's Shakespeare Live, though I may have the date wrong there.
May 22 - Royal Ballet - Frankenstein

May is my birthday month.  I am going to try to do it all.


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