03 July 2008

blown away

I see that Opus Arte lists among its August releases a two-disc set of the Netherlands Opera production of Dr Atomic. It's not yet listed on Amazon in the USA, but usually we get the Opus Arte releases a couple of months after the UK does, so I would expect it in this country sometime in the fall. (It's listed as "all regions" in the description, but I don't know if I trust that, though it might be worth the risk if the exchange rate were more in our favor).

I assume this production is at least partially revised from the world premiere version that left me so disappointed, but Peter Sellars is still the stage director and the cast seems mostly if not entirely the same: Gerald Finley as Oppenheimer, Jessica Rivera has his wife, and Eric Owens, Richard Paul Fink, James Maddalena, Thomas Glenn, Jay Hunter Morris, and Ellen Rabiner. The conductor is Lawrence Renes. My disappointment aside (plenty of people did not share it), I felt at the time that it was a shame a major work by a major American composer was not being recorded and released in some form.

I guess it makes sense to record a new work after a few runs, when the creators have had time to tinker (or slash and burn), but I have the feeling that the more relevant fact here is that it was filmed in Europe and not the United States, because given the welcome DVD release of brand-new works such as Chin's Alice in Wonderland or Dusapin's Faustus, The Last Night, it just seems that recording new works is, for whatever economic or cultural reasons, just more achievable over there. American opera houses seem to be edging in that direction, but I suspect they will rely more on big names in very familiar works. It's too bad. I wish someone had recorded the USA premiere of Le Grand Macabre four years ago, which was the only thing that managed to lift and elate my spirits even momentarily after the last presidential election. There's a good chance I'll need to see it again in the fall, and then where will we be?

5 comments:

sfmike said...

And Happy Fourth of July to you too. With much affection.

pjwv said...

Why, thank you, Mike, and same to you, though if I remember correctly, and I usually do, you like this holiday and I loathe it. Thanks for noticing the timing on that particular post; no, it was not a coincidence.

But so far my house hasn't burnt down, so I'm just as right as rain, not that we've seen any in these parts for months.

Jack Curtis Dubowsky said...

I saw both at SF Opera, and... well...
Le Grand Macabre was AWESOME. I especially loved the aleatory sections in the libretto which were [insert prominent local politician] etc etc. I actually saw Le Grand Macabre twice. It's what really needs to be done, that kind of music!! Have you heard the music of Ligeti's son, Lucas? He lives in NYC.

Henry Holland said...

I assume this production is at least partially revised from the world premiere version that left me so disappointed, but Peter Sellars is still the stage director

That's the least of this opera's problems: unless they chucked the whole thing and got a new one done by someone who's, well, talented in that sort of thing, Der Zwerg Sellars is still the librettist too.

Ah, Le Grande Macabre, that was a great production. It's too bad they did the revised version, but I fear that kind of adventurism is a thing of the past in the Gockley era.

pjwv said...

Hey Jack,
I e-mailed you separately, so you know most of what I'm going to say here, but . . . yeah, I went to Grand Macabre twice also, and it had the same elating effect on me each time. I had read that Ligeti's son was a composer in NYC, but I haven't heard any of his music. I should check to see if he has any CDs out. I have all those Ligeti CDs that were released by first one and then another label.

Hey Henry, I thought you were in NYC for Die Soldaten, and yes, I'm very envious. . . .
I probably don't have time now to review Sellars' whole career, but I saw a lot of his early work in Boston and found much of it memorable and impressive. Perhaps it's because I haven't seen as much of his later work but I've found it too reliant on a couple of tricks (mostly video). It does seem as if lately he's more of a theatrical impresario, bringing people together and projects to fruition. And yeah, I felt his libretto was a (make that the) major problem with Dr Atomic. But I don't think it's hopeless. If they had cut all the attempts to re-create the historical action and went for more of an oratorio-like meditation on the bomb I think it would have been more effective.

Anyway . . . no need to fear that adventurism is a thing of the past at SF Opera -- I hear tell that their new production of Traviata is set in the 1920s! Wacky! I'm not sure I can deal with that kind of craziness. In fact, I'm sure they'll get complaints. . . .