Thursday, December 4, 2008

A review from an opera fan

Dearest Opera Lovers,

When the Kentucky Opera 2008-2009 season was announced, a good friend of mine told me that if anyone missed the opportunity to attend one of the performances of Massenet’s Werther (and I quote) “you might as well go hang yourself.” Although I laughed wholeheartedly at his remark, I never thought that his prediction would be so prophetic. Indeed one needs to mourn and subsequently head for the gallows if by any chance he or she missed the opportunity to attend. Werther was by far the best offering this season has exhibited.

It would be futile on my part to try and explain through mortal words this sensational presentation by Kentucky Opera. I was fortunate to attend both performances; thus, I will simply touch upon specific key points. A big bravo to maestro Mechavich for his brilliant interpretation of Massenet’s score; it was touching, alive and without exaggeration. Mr. Kaplan’s costumes were exceptional as always. The direction under Ms. McIntyre created an absolutely dream-like atmosphere (especially with the phenomenal lighting). Ms. McIntyre completely “got it” as far as the heart of this French opera is concerned. Forget about the grandeur of Italian opera and the bombastic “over the head” pounding of German opera. The direction reflected the spirit of the concise, slow unfolding, soft, passionate yet restrained character of French opera which dives into a study of the individual soul and turmoil of the characters and builds slowly but gradually until the end when catharsis is achieved. The ones in attendance only need to bring to mind the bloody letters swirling in the snow, drifting away in the wind denoting the suicide attempt of Werther. Brilliant!! Mrs. Batton and Mr. Sorenson were absolutely breathtaking and exhibited talent which is at the highest level of today’s opera standards. I happen to possess this opera in a three vinyl set with interpretations by renowned Metropolitan Opera stars Jose Carreras and Frederica Von Stade. Mrs. Batton and Mr. Sorenson’s performances have nothing to be jealous of their Metropolitan counterparts. The same holds true for Ms. Vuong who electrified the theater as Sophie as well as the children’s choir which was delightful. Tenors Mr. Angell, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Collins, Mr. Cook and Mr. Sheehan did a wonderful job to complete a very successful performance.

Unfortunately, this is the point where my review takes a different tone…a tone of disappointment for a number of distasteful and out of line comments made by our respected arts critic Mr. Adler. Where should I begin? This time there are too many to mention. I will not spend too much time elaborating on his Werther review calling the tenors “mediocre” because it is obvious by now Mr. Adler and I disagree on our assessment of the talent that these young tenors bring to our Kentucky scene. I would assume it would probably not even interest you because it is simply my artistic opinion versus his. I still believe these young tenors did a magnificent job and they are on their way to fabulous developing careers; thus, I will continue to voice my opinion in opposition to Mr. Adler’s. I do, however, feel great disappointment and deep surprise on his Sunday November the 30th newspaper article (once more my coffee went down the wrong way!!) “3 chances to enrich were missed.” In short, Mr. Adler accused the Ballet, the Orchestra and the Opera of “sins” of omission; failing to inform the public about the works they are presenting!!! WHAT!?!? WHAT!?!? It is obvious that our respected critic has forgotten to do one thing that critics need to do before they critique…their homework!! Since I am writing about the Opera, I will just mention all the venues the Kentucky Opera company offers for public education concerning their works. Well in advance (15 to 20 days) before each performance the Kentucky Opera embarks upon a collective effort to educate its public on its prospective offerings. For starters, the “Lunch and Listen” program is an initial introduction to the upcoming performance offering music as well as a synopsis of the work. “Sights and Sounds” at the Speed Museum comes in second to continue and build upon where the “Lunch and Listen” left off. In between, at least one party follows where patrons and friends of the Opera can attend and continue their educational experience. And if your schedule was busy and all this was missed, an hour before the performance you can attend for free the “Opera Preview” and receive a crash course on the synopsis of the opera, the music, the composer, the libretto etc., etc., etc…(which the Louisville Orchestra does as well. Maestro Mester should be outraged…) plus let’s not forget the radio interviews and the Metro TV appearances in between. Should I even continue? I am already out of breath and overeducated thinking about these opportunities that I have relished the past three months. If we lived in centuries past, I would have firmly taken my glove off, engaged Mr. Adler’s cheek and invited him to a duel to bring this issue to an end once and for all. Since this is not a possibility, I will continue to express my frustration because being an arts critic means being first and foremost informed. Maybe a phone call to the Kentucky Opera or the Louisville Orchestra before the writing of this review would have helped. Bottom line: Mr. Adler, if your intention is to enlighten the public with your critical opinion, please come to the Opera at least an hour in advance, not a minute before the performance begins!!!

Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis

Edited with the help of Miss S.

1 comment:

Kentucky Opera said...

Great Review Wagnerian.
For those interested, see pictures from all Brown-Forman 2008-09 Fall Season productions go to this website!
If you are so inclined, pictures are available for purchase as well.