The first reviews of Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne are in: critics seem generally underwhelmed still by Jonathan Kent’s staging. The most mystifying comment comes from the FT’sFairman who reckons it is the most ‘intellectually-challenging’ of operas. I really cannot fathom this remark. To me the music follows the plot perfectly, so much that it would be entirely clearly without any singing – perish the thought! Perhaps bankers reading the FT cannot get their heads around someone punished for wrongdoing.
But then critics are a funny bunch – the reviews of the Rosenkavalier for example, about the appearance of Tara Erraught caused quite a storm – perhaps in a teacup. Cross-dressing on stage always will be apparent and therefore suspension of disbelief imperfect. But isn’t that part of the fun? The LA Times blamed British newspapers: ‘Then again, we can thank one of those Fleet Street institutions for sponsoring the webcast on Sunday’. The cinema relay was delightful but I remain ambivalent on Strauss when it comes to opera. I watched the Rosenkavalier suite from the Berliner Philharmoniker afterwards and found the compressed score – with which Strauss apparently had little to do, other than having written the large version from which it was extracted- much more satisfactory. The trio at the end of the Rosenkavalier is worth the admission to some of the cheaper seats alone.
Can it possibly be only three years since Opera North began its Ring? It seems to have thundered along as quickly as the third act of Siegfried. The first three instalments have been positively monumental; if the same pace, power and pluck are maintained, Gotterdammerung promises to be positively towering. For Siegfried they had finally fathomed how to use the projections effectively (or perhaps we are just getting used to them?). For the complete rings, I wonder if there might not be some tweaking of these projections.