Video Alert: White Shirt Weekend Watching
It’s summer festival time and it’s season finale time, which means there is more livestreaming and stream-on-demand opera at the moment than you can shake your white shirt cufflinks at.
Many of the selections might not seem White Shirt friendly at first gaze, but you might be surprised if you gave them a chance.
Up first, Berlioz’s entire “Les Troyens” from Covent Garden, since I don’t know for how much longer they’ll be available at The Space (head over to Eyes’ place for details). It’s a David McVicar “cavallo di battaglia”, in more than one sence, but a lavish, more conventional reading can come up with unexpected subtext (see above and, extensively, below).
The whole thing clocks in at nearly 5 hours, so if you don’t have the time to watch it all, make sure you put at least Acts 1 and 3 on your list (you can skip the lengthy ballet and het-romancing in Act 4, though it is beautifully sung):
Act 1 since Anna Caterina Antonacci rocks the hell out of Cassandre. Whatever role you throw at the woman, she’s always a sight to behold prowling the stage. Ah yes, the black dress doesn’t exactly hurt, either. Also: some deltoids!
A little Callas-does-Medea, Pasolini-style……a little Sophia Loren…
…and a little “if only Romy Schneider had made it to 50″.
Honorable mention: Barbara Senator’s white shirt sleeves as Aeneas’s son Ascanius:
And then there’s Act 3, which should be titled “Dido and Anna getting married” – or what does this look like to you?
My guess: a lesbian potluck wedding with confetti from recycled paper!
Meet Dido and Mrs. Dido… (aww, giddy smiles!)
“Oh, look, honey – they’re reenacting the protest sit-in where we first met!”
Sorry, I just can’t get over the confetti and the cute smiles.
So, any more doubts as to who is in love with whom here?
That’s what I thought.
There must be some misguided translation from the old Greek in listing Anna (Hanna Hopp) as Dido’s (wonderfully intense and intensely wonderful: Eva-Maria Westbroek) sister – or would you look at your sister like this?
Perhaps “sister” is just some “Boston marriage” euphemism (although these days, when I hear “Boston marriage”, the first couple that springs to mind are Rizzoli and Isles…).
(and could the next world premiere for Westbroek please be not about an ex-stripper, but about, say, Amelia Earhart (Westbroek) crashing on a desert island with Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Mijanovic)?!)
And just in case you think that I’m making all of this up:
I rest my case. “Les Troyens”: gay, gay, GAY.
Up next: a one-time only livestream from Munich, Sunday, July 15th, with Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (English subtitles available), starting at 5 p.m. (GMT+1). What’s queer about it?
You mean other than a Nordic warrior princess (Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde) challenging the Gods and setting their realm on fire?! (see, we can play “guess the Xena episode” all over again, although, admittedly, this time the Edda was first) After having a lenthly conversation of epic lesbian processing proprotions with another warrior princess (Waltraute: Michaela Schuster)? With some added norns and rhine maidens and Mother Earth herself thrown into the mix? Just call it “Songwymyn’s Tale” already!
Sounds queer enough for me. Except that I always thought Gutrune (Anna Gabler) should run off with Brünnhilde after Siegfried is out of the picture…
Also available: Dmitiri Tcherniakov’s reading of “Il Trovatore” for La Monnaie (on demand until July 27th).
What’s queer about it? The entire plot, for one (gypsies with anvils, a convent, troubadour serenading and a mezzo getting in the last word?!)
In addition, in this production, the mad mezzo locks everyone in an abbandoned mansion to finally figure out what is actually happening during the opera (good luck with that, Azucena!). Cue evil-eye-sex with Leonora, Manrico in an outfit straight out of Siegfried & Roy and “Stride la vampa”, garnished with some anvil chorus.
In the more obvious White Shirt department, there are two Mozart classics available for your viewing pleasure, thanks to ArteLiveWeb and the festival in Aix-de-Provence (remember Connolly’s Byron-Sesto from last last year?):
Kate Lindsey stars as Cherubino in “Le nozze di Figaro” – oh Countess, my Countess! And if you look closely, something reminds us of pt. 3 of the Beaumarchais trilogy. *cough*
White Shirts, II: Julie Robard-Gendre (I typed “gender” the first two times – occupational hazard) dons the pants of the Cavaliere Ramiro in Mozart’s “La finta giardiniera“, a secret favorite of mine. Watch him/her and on-again, off-again lover Arminda (high-maintenance femme, anyone?) bicker and process their feelings, and you’ll find enough lesbian drama for an entire L Word episode.
Apropos drama: also still available on ArteLiveWeb is Oliver Py’s staging of “Carmen” for Opéra Lyon – there’s tigers and snakes, apparently, and I always thought that “smuggling stuff South over the mountains” was actually a reference to Carmen and Mercédès getting it on while Josè is stalking toreros at night. It’s my headcanon. As for the rest: lalala, I can’t hear you.
Finally, as of July 16th (also on ArteLive Web), one for the boys: Charpentier’s take on the epic biblical lovestory between David and Jonathan (“David et Jonathas”) – keep tissues at hand!