Friday, February 27, 2009

My Highbrow Side

Monday past, I went to the Tel Aviv Opera Company's production of The Cunning Little Vixen by Janacek. Adrienne's husband Johannes is the baritone playing/singing the part of the Forrester and he had set aside two tickets for me, so Pieter joined me. Oh.My.Gosh. Everything about the production was pure magic: the music, the voices, the acting, the costumes and sets. I've now been to four operas, three of which were post-twentieth century: Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail (Mozart), The Handmaid's Tale (Ruders), Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Shostakovich), and The Cunning Little Vixen. As much as I love Mozart, I am drawn to the innovative sets and modern interpretations encompassing "opera." It's not just a stuffy, highbrow form of art; opera is more than this preconceived notion of a soprano or baritone or tenor walking on stage, singing an aria then walking off again.

Here's a little review of the Vixen, a la T. The music was gorgeous, and all the voices were wonderful but of course Johs and the Vixen really stood out. Dance and ballet were incorporated - the death scene of the mosquito was sooo sad, and the "dream vixen" was sensuous and made me long to dance topless in the forest (again). The sets and scenery were imaginative and inspired the imagination - the landscape upon which the opera played out was hilly terrain, piled with pillows in places to mark forest foliage and the front opened onto a 'room' that was used to mark either the inn or the Forrester's pen where he kept the Vixen; plus, large branches and the ornithological characters, like the knitting owl, were raised and lowered from the ceiling above the set. This production had beautifully choreographed expression and seasonal transition - the season of spring opened with 6 of the children who played different woodland animals holding umbrellas which they opened slowly into huge daisies. AND it was funny - the scene with the chickens was hysterical; the scene with the pastor lamenting his lost love and youth was wonderfully punctuated by the Vixen rolling around wide-eyed behind him, unbeknownst to him, almost taunting him with her young sexuality. I was amazed that the audience didn't warm up to the humour in Vixen until after the intermission. There were parts where I had to giggle to myself - heaven forbid I be shushed for enjoying the show! The goal is to see more opera, especially pre-twentieth century opera, so that I can balance the modern with the, um, old school.

1 comment:

johs said...

Hi Tanya,
I was glad you and Ptr (as he would be in Tchek) could come to the performance, and now you've even written about it?! Great! I'll make sure to invite you to all my shows. Next up is The Marriage of Figaro in May in Seattle. It's pre- 20th-C. so it'll fit you're future opera-diet.
See you soon and in Seattle, of course!
Joe- the forester-hannes