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The Nose, The Trojans, and Issues of Popularity

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  1. Your comments were interesting to me because I just saw THE NOSE earlier this week and also came away with the feeling that the production had indeed overwhelmed the opera. In fact, I saw it as Kentridge’s show more than anyone else’s (for example, Shostakovich’s). This to me was really a weakness because, despite Kentridge’s truly inventive and fascinating work, I couldn’t call a production “spectacular” that managed to overpower the opera itself, rather than enhance it. In fact, I had more or less the same exact reaction when I saw Kentridge’s MoMA exhibit one week earlier. While I thought both (the exhibit and the opera) were brilliant in their execution, I also felt both to be, in certain respects, relentless — a case of style (elaboration and exploration of visual possibilities) overpowering substance. As to why it was such a hot ticket, it did get quite a bit of press, including music, art, and literary critics weighing in. Also, your comment about watching an opera in concert rather than a weak production was in fact exactly my thinking when I saw ATTILA at the Met two weeks ago. (About that production, in my opinion, the less said the better, to me clearly a case of, “What where they thinking?”)

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