Thursday, April 28, 2011

At 76, Jonathan Miller Reveals His Formula For Directing

Jonathan Miller preparing for opening night of Verdi's La Traviata (Photo: Les Bazso/PNG)
The opera legend is directing the Vancouver Opera production of La Traviata, which opens on Saturday, and takes the opportunity to be interviewed by The Vancouver Sun about various aspects of his profession. "'I have a simple formula as a director. It’s nothing more really than reminding singers of what they know already and have forgotten, a re-directing of their attention to Chekhovian detail — the little, negligible actions which are made considerable. This is something I learned as a student working with neurologically damaged patients. After a little while it becomes exactly what I have observed in my children and grandchildren. You don’t direct a child what to do — you put them, for example, into an environment in which English is spoken, and there they are a little later generating perfect English. So the funny thing is that once I start directing the drama, I don’t have to tell them what to do, any more than I have to tell a child to raise its voice at the end of an interrogative sentence. It’s all speech-acts — when we speak, we are in fact performing actions the purpose of which is to persuade, or to apologize. It doesn’t matter whether it is spoken or sung, it is all speech-acts. The intonation of the music takes care of itself, because you already know instinctively what intonation you need to be aggressive, to be apologetic, to be persuasive, and so on.'" He enjoys working the young cast in Vancouver, because as he puts it, 'Some older singers get ossified. They say ‘No, I must stand here, Alfredo would not do that,’ and I always want to reply, ‘When exactly were you last in touch with Alfredo on this subject?’ But if they are young, they will do anything — even act.'" A detailed cast list for the production of La Traviata and video interviews with the director are after the jump. [Source, Source]

April 30, May 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 2011
All performances 7:30 pm
Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Conducted by Jacques Lacombe
Directed by Sir Jonathan Miller

Violetta: Erin Wall
Alfredo: David Pomeroy
Germont: James Westman
Gastone: Sam Chung
Douphol: Benjamin Covey
d'Obigny: Stephen Hegedus
Doctor Grenvil: Giles Tomkins
Flora: Barbara Towell
Annina: Melanie Krueger

This production of La Traviata is a co production of Vancouver Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. Scenery and Costumes designed by Isabella Bywater.

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