Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Little Red Dress . . .

The recent Willy Decker production of La Traviata seen at the Metropolitan Opera generated more online commentary than just about anything I can recall over the past few years. Much was made about Violetta's red dress - and how few sopranos could probably ever wear it. This in turn prompted me to think of a number of glamorous divas who past and present who knew how to fill out a red dress.

Here then, is a small gallery of those divas - my "Ladies in Red."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Paul,

This sartorial detail generates much commentary? If only the music could excite people as much...

It seems to me that opera audiences are getting more superficial.

I do NOT include you of course.

All of this reminds me of an interview several years ago between Colin Davis and Matthew Gurewitsch.

Davis said:

"The concert hall is the promised land. The only reason for playing opera is the music. In a theater, the orchestra is squashed into a small pit. It doesn't have the presence it has on the concert stage. And then there are the distractions due to the ingenuity and perversity of the producer. In the concert hall, the real experience of opera can be enjoyed for what it is...."

And on a related topic in this week's 'Guardian' :

"Why Don't Opera Critics Write About The Music"


I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Davis and the sentiment expressed in the Guardian article.

How do you see it?

Do you believe things will change in the near future?


March 6, 2011 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I'm not so sure I agree with Mr. Davis. The reason for playing opera is a drama, a theatrical event that includes music as one component. This is something that has been misrepresented for some time.

The myth that singers couldn't act and shouldn't be asked to try has led to the exclusion of theater directors from opera. those directors have arrived now and it is possible to see the power of the art form in ways previously unthinkable.

Modern singers are largely rising to the challenge of a more complete way of producing opera with enthusiasm. What the singers and directors do aren't distractions but the very heart of opera along with the music; opera is a synthesis of many arts that make it the most complete and powerful of the performing arts.

March 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Sharky said...

Hi Anonymous. I agree that the musical end is frequently given short shrift by a majority of critics these days, but I don’t agree that the opera audiences are getting more superficial. I have many friends considerably older than I, who were lifelong opera fans, but not particularly major fans of “music” e.g., they never listened to Mahler, Beethoven, Bach or any other non-operatic music. In fact, the majority of them were (and are) far more interested in “voices” and what I call “vocal personalities” than music itself. Not only that, many folk I know “from the golden era” listened to only a limited number of operas, perhaps a dozen or so and THAT was THAT! (Some of these folk wouldn’t know a lied, canzone or chanson if it came up and bit ‘em!)

Today, most of the opera fans I know happen also to be regular attendees of symphonic programs and chamber music. I think the fact that musical criticism has fallen by the wayside is a shame, but is no reflection on the audiences (most, in fact, complain about the lack of substance in matters musical).

I also strongly agree with Will’s statement about the importance of producers into today’s opera world. For many, stepping outside the old picturebook scenes of “Victor Book of Opera” is tantamount to sacrilege, finding it difficult to let go of certain traditions that, in many instances, have held opera back. We’re seeing a newfound vitality, healthier audience attendance and the promise of a future that – even only a decade or two ago, was almost unthinkable.


March 23, 2011 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger alan.walworth said...

Love the red dress collection! But how could you leave out Natalie Dessay?

April 13, 2011 at 6:22 PM  

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