Friday, February 3, 2012

"Le Cerisaie" Does Not Succeed in Blossoming at Palais Garnier

Elena Kelessidi as Madame Lyuba Ranyevskaya in the Philippe Fenelon opera La Cerisaie adapted from Chekhov's play The Cherry Orchard. (Photo: Andrea Messana/Opera de Paris)
"What were they thinking of? There is so much that is bafflingly wrong with Philippe Fénelon’s new opera – score, libretto and staging – that it is hard to know where to begin. But let’s start with the choice of Chekhov, hardly an obvious option even if the dominant introspective tone in his plays should appeal strongly to contemporary opera composers’ aversion to eventful narrative. Fénelon’s often dirge-like score – steeped as usual in Berg but this time heavy with quotes from Russian music – adds insult to injury with aggressive, overwritten orchestration. It too often seems geared to Dostoyevskian angst or a Solzhenitsyn gulag and jars with a fin-de-race family weighing its memories and confronting the end of an era. Even leavened with traditional lullabies and harmonious choruses – but also an embarrassing lift from Verdi’s Masked Ball on the feeble grounds that this is the act where the ball takes place – it is still an exhausting onslaught on the ears. Georges Lavaudant’s staging and Jean-Pierre Vergier’s glacial, hideous sets and costumes deliver the coup de grâce. Lavaudant works hard to outbid Fénelon with corny ideas. Monologues are swamped in useless background agitation; a ballerina flutters on so often, she seems to be justifying her fee, while a chorus of babushka peasants is handled with comical woodenness." The singing was apparently very good, click here for the rest of the review. [Source]

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