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Brawl at the Opéra as Paris gets perplexed by a western

It was the first showing of La Fanciulla del West at the Opéra, and le tout Paris turned out to wonder why they had never seen Puccini’s Wild West epic before.

It appears not everyone got the plot.

After final curtain, the lobby turned into a bar-room brawl. ‘C’est une honte ! (shameful)’ cried some patrons. ‘ Fermez-la, vous n’avez rien compris, connards (shut it, assholes, you just didn’t get it)!’ replied others. Has there ever been such a fuss over Puccini?

Le Monde has the full story.

Cast: Nina Stemme, Claudio Sgura, Marco Berti, Nikolaus Lehnhoff (director), Raimund Bauer (design), Andrea Schmidt-Futterer (costumes), Jonas Gerberding (vidéo), Chœur et Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris, Carlo Rizzi (conductor).

 

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Comments

  1. ALBERT LANDA says:

    Why am I feeling so moronic?

  2. Austen Biss says:

    Nothing surprises me re anything I read or hear about this ridiculous opera!

    Austen Biss

  3. I was there for this really quite bizarre evening. I have posted a review about my experience, below!

    http://theoperatunist.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/a-statement-production-transfers-to-opera-bastille-and-suffers-2/

    • John Kelly says:

      Delicious review, so much fun to read. THANK YOU! “Stig of the Dumps” – classic.

      This makes the hookers at the beginning of Act 2 of the Met’s Tosca sound very tame indeed…………..

  4. Ignacio Martínez-Ybor says:

    It is a ridiculous opera. Not even vaguely amusing. And certainly not Puccini at the height of inspiration. Well, we all have clunkers in our lives….. Let us not forget Wellington’s Victory!

    • True…I heard Wellington’s Victory played by the Minnesota Orchestra a few years back in Orchestra Hall. We all trooped out afterwards, no-one daring to break the silence until one man said ‘Well, Beethoven had his off-days too, I guess’. Everyone around broke out into peals of laughter.

      • …or should that be ‘Fits of laughter’…?

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          Wellington’s Victory was not intended to be a “master piece”. It was intended to raise money for veterans of the battle of Hanau, which it did, and then make some cash for Beethoven, too, which it also did, so his permanent financial worries were somewhat alleviated and he could concentrate on his “serious” works again.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      “Wellington’s Victory” is not an opera, it’s a short 15-minute piece Beethoven wrote for a benefit concert for the wounded veterans of the battle of Hanau.

  5. I went to an opera and a hockey game broke out.

  6. I attended the second performance. I’m fond of the opera. Sure the plot is far-fetched, but the music is ravishing and uniquely impressionistic for Puccini, Minnie is a great role for a soprano, and the card-playing scene is bullet-proof. Even this production couldn’t leach that of its drama.

    The production, however, had nothing to do with Puccini or the text. It made the plot incomprehensible by removing all sense of affection between Minnie and the miners – essential to make sense of their allowing her and the bandit to ride off in the sunset. It was ultimately offensive (which I suspect was the point). After having spent the afternoon a a tourist in the Invalides WW II museum, I did not appreciate having a German director turn a gold rush fable into a lecture on the evils of American greed. Regie theater at its worst.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      gil says:
      February 7, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      “The production, however, had nothing to do with Puccini or the text. It made the plot incomprehensible by removing all sense of affection between Minnie and the miners – essential to make sense of their allowing her and the bandit to ride off in the sunset. It was ultimately offensive (which I suspect was the point). After having spent the afternoon a a tourist in the Invalides WW II museum, I did not appreciate having a German director turn a gold rush fable into a lecture on the evils of American greed. Regie theater at its worst.”

      I think Regietheater sucks most of the time, too, but that comment about WWII and the director being from Germany is totally silly and out of place. It is sad to see how much some people are still stuck in that kind of tribal mindset 70 years after the war.

      What I found kind of interesting though when I was in that army museum in Paris was that the “contemporary” section actually ended with the end of WWII. So no exhibition there about the slaughters the French army committed in Vietnam (or “Indochine” as they called it) or Algeria. Strange. Hmm…Well, that kind of historic blindness is what leads people to make the kind of comment you made there.

  7. Mike Schachter says:

    Opera in Paris generally moire entertaining off stage than on. I remember seeing Chris Meeriit in La Juive a few years ago. He had a cold and his French was dire.Half the audience were rather displeased, the other half were more generous, clos eto blows in the interval and at the end. great fun, sjhame about the music.

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