(Gee, Archbishop Cupich is taking a lot of heat for his hyperbole, which I still would like to think was a dumbing down of Catholic social teaching for secular audience.)
I was very privileged to be able to watch an opera as it was being performed over five thousand miles away - THANK YOU, MEDICI TV!!!!! (we live in a marvellous age.)
Anyway, Fidelio offered some real treasures, and some real pleasures, chief among them the remarkable Jonas Kaufmann, surely the finest actor currently performing on the operatic stage, perhaps the finest in the history of opera as it can be known on film and on tape.
His entrance, vocal since he was not visible at first, (I hope that was not just a matter of the camera focusing on the wrong thing, an all too frequent occurrence in operatic stage production on TV or in movies nowadays,) was like nothing I have ever witnessed before, disturbing and electrifying and heart-breaking.
As Florestan beings his prayer, "Gott...." instead of the noble, devout, and essentially confident forte one expects, there was a sound, so soft, it at first seemed some of the added sound effects in this production, is it mechanical? a door or pulley moving, the small whine of metal on stone? is it an animal? no, it's human, and it grows, it seems to last forever, becoming louder, stronger, richer until it is clearly a faith-filled cry from the heart -
The heart of a madman? a prisoner, who through torture and isolation, through starvation and hopelessness has almost nothing left of his humanity except for his faith in God?
Whatever, it was astounding.
The production as a whole... well, yes, there was plenty to love, but my overwhelming reaction was,
WHAT THE HELdentenor?????????Okay, two characters have shadow selves, maybe their inconsistencies and incomprehensibilities are the incoherent way the political prisoner thinks of his tormentor and the love he may never see again.....? okay...
But then, at the end, the "happy ending," that glorious music, that joyous outpouring - the chorus is invisible, perhaps only imagined by Florestan? the principals are all in darkness, (same?)
Then why in blazes is
So, I was curious about the reviews, and the reactions of the opera cognoscenti around the 'web (I had only seen a headline about "boos.")
Well, this opera-blogger, (yeah, finally getting back to the title of this post,) seemingly pretty knowledgeable about opera gave this opera-lover, (me,) a What The Fach moment...
Beethoven's Fidelio is an opera designed to provoke outrage. Any production that doesn't provoke is a betrayal of the composer. Salzburg's new Fidelio is provocative, but that's exactly how it should be. Fidelio is an opera about ideas. Like it or not, Claus Guth's production does engage with the ideas and ideals central to any genuine engagement with the opera. He presents an unusual take on the piece, but nonetheless one which is valid and thoughtful. If we dismiss ideas because they don't fit our own, we're no better than the Don Pizarros of this world.[emphasis supplied]
In case you're unfamiliar with Fidelio, Pizzaro is the villainous, torturing, would-be murderer who has held the noble Florestan a political prisoner, incognito for two years.
So, hows that for an asinine moral equivalency claim?
If you reject the nonsense of the purveyors of regietheater, you are no better than a villainous, torture-loving, despotic would-be murderer.
So the Salzburg patrons who booed? yeah, same circle of hell as, oh... maybe ISIS.