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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Suspension of Disbelief

I had forgotten, when doing all that thinking rambling about trouser roles and other forms of stage impersonation the very fine Salzburg production of Traviata, modern dress and a starkly evocative set with a giant clock, a very hot Anna Netrebko and a very hot-headed Rolando Villazon [sp?] The violence in his attack on Violetta in the third act was appalling.

Anyway, my point, and I did have one, was that the entire mixed chorus of the first act had been (costumed and made up as) men, all these men in suits, all these respectable johns.
It made it clear that both the prostitute's seeming power over and her ultimate subjugation by society were a function of her sex. (Not sure what Flora's deal was.... cross-dresser? lesbian? pimp? performer?  no matter.)
Very effective.

A review of the Traviata in Paris, starring the absolutely glorious Diana Damrau, (seriously, can she do anything wrong? surely the finest, most versatile soprano in the opera world today,) mentioned that they had garbed the chorus similarly in the first act, (though this was a period piece, even -- wonder of wonders! -- the period specified by the creators!) everyone dressed as a man.

BUT -- it said that in the 3d act, (or is it the 2nd scene of the 2nd act?) the gypsy dancers were males in dresses. Okay, that piques my curiosity, I go hunting for video or photos.... well, there's another bit of impersonation.

The sets seem as if they would be striking in performance, and very serviceable, extremely simple, but just as sumptuous as they are simple -- a single massive staircase, a single massive tree and a single massive bed.
Hanging over the headboard as part of the beswagged bed is this Manet painting.

Ah, okay, a prostitute, (as if we, or any of Violetta's clients would be unaware....) And it seems in this production, Annina is a black maid, costumed and given headgear approximating the servant in the painting. 
The singer's name is unfamiliar to me, and her surname gives me no hint of ethnicity. Hmmm, is that African?

No, it seems she is Rumanian.

Which means, she is, essentially, performing in black-face.

I gather that does not cause the hand-wringing and column inch-chewing it would in the US.

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