The venerable maestro has published two diatribes on his Facebook Maestro page against the spread of radical Regieoper. As director of the Vienna Opera in the early 1980s, Maazel’s producers of choice were Hal Prince and Ken Russell. Here are his criticisms of current trends. And here below is his solution. It’s up to the audience, he says, to vote with its feet against irrelevant trends and directions.
He has illustrated the article, for some reason, with a picture of the Sydney Opera House. We wonder why.
Opera Staging Madness (Part Three)
by Lorin Maazel
What can be done to safeguard an endangered art form?
If it is believed that an opera audience can be cowed into tolerating any abuse of text and music for fear of seeming to be old-fashioned, conservative, recidivist (who wants to be thought of as not with it, not up to speed, uncool), the manipulators, axe-grinders and mafiosi, given a free hand, cheerfully assault the art form.
One of the challenges for an opera house General Manager is to sell out the house. The ultimate say-so rests with the audience. If their beloved world of opera is being degraded and ridiculed (not too long ago. a stage director who publicly derided the art form of opera, staged one, with the cast dressed as monkeys), what to do? Boo? Certainly not.
The singers and musicians do their best under trying circumstances and their work should be respected.
Follow the example of a gentleman who, after the First act of a Shakespeare play presented at an international festival
and directed by someone who proudly said he had never read one and engaged non-professionals to “act”, stood up and said in a ringing voce “George, let’s go”. All but thirty people left the theater.
You won’t get your money back but if the General Manger reads on Facebook often enough that the Opera House he/she is managing is losing its audience, he/she will soon change course.
Another suggested action is pre-emptive in nature:
if you read that a new production at your favorite opera house will be given of La Boheme set in a Nepalese fish market with the Sex Pistols in the orchestra pit conducted by Sarah Palin, don’t go.
- Lorin Maazel