Monday, January 12, 2015

Blogging Backlog, or, from Deutschland to Dissertation

As the Monty Python peasant says, "I'm not dead yet!" A mixture of malaise in cultural readjustment and madness in dissertation-writing, however, put me very nearly out of commission for late autumn opera-going. Thanks to friends pulling me to opera, however, I did get to see three operas at the Met, which deserve more than belated notes here, but I thought they deserved at least notes.

  • Death of Klinghoffer. I even started a blog post on this one. And I'm sorry I didn't finish it, as it was a theatrically gripping, emotionally powerful experience. The opera (admirably, I think) resists the imposition of narrative, the interpretation of narrative, allowing the characters to offer their own competing claims in turn. The production is less comfortable with such ambiguity (and ambiguity is not even quite the right word; Keats called it "negative capability.") Anyway, I thought it was great, with Paulo Szot a standout as the compassionate, remorseful captain.
  • Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was another success of the kind I wish I found myself expecting from the Met. I loved the delirious production, emotionally dark and visually gaudy, with delightfully surrealist touches. Claustrophobic in all the right ways, this parable had me rooting for Eva-Maria Westbroek's Katerina all the way. Which is morally problematic, I realize, but she was so much more honest than... everyone else. Another evening where exciting music-making and good drama came together as they too seldom do.
  • Meistersinger! Here, the production was almost unbelievably twee, but the singing was fine, with James Morris a noble Sachs, and Johannes Martin Kränzle a luxuriously-cast Beckmesser. And who could pass up the opportunity to hear James Levine lead the Met orchestra in this opera, to hear the chorus sweep through the third act? Not I. The sets and lighting seemed to view 16th-century Nürnberg and its interpersonal dramas with an entirely misplaced sentimentality, but the orchestra knew better.

So, that's what I saw in the autumn, Gentle Readers. Opera is one thing I've usually managed to accommodate regardless of my academic schedule, but dissertation chapters proved its bane. I hope to dredge up a 2014 roundup soon, and I even hope to return to more regular opera-going in the new year... I can't promise success, but 'tis the season for ambitious resolutions.


  1. "Malaise in cultural readjustment." Sounds like something I suffer from even when I don't travel. But do tell more when you can.

    1. :) Well, in brief... coming back showed me many ways in which I hadn't realized I'd adapted (to things ranging from cafés to cycling to feminist opera productions.)

    2. Very familiar. And it's the scale of things in the Can-US that is starting to irk each time I return... So much more money than anywhere else, the entitlement, the non-negotiability of comfort...but also the enormity of nature, the seemingly endless space, the speed. Maybe it's because I'm getting old.

  2. I'm so glad your a Westbroek fan! I thought she was incredible and would love to see more of her at the met.


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