(Previous section here.)
So anyway. Murky darkness. In addition to the gloom, great big knives are a recurring motif, looming in place of pillars in the hall of the castle (there are little wreaths of flowers placed around the ends in celebration of the wedding). Some elements of the production, like the knives, and the rows of chorus members dressed in black and gunmetal gray and standing in grim ranks for the “A festa! a festa!” section in Act I, would not be out of place in a rendition of Don Carlos.
When there are no knives, there are high walls. I want to say that this brings out a feeling present in the opera itself of being trapped, or that there is a claustrophobic quality to it that I hadn’t appreciated before, but this is not the case. The visuals are striking, but they didn’t change the opera for me.
Finally, the way the DVD was filmed reminded me of Met HD broadcast DVDs, in that the camera sometimes slides back and forth along the front of the stage, sometimes moves through the action on the stage itself – at one point in Act III, we are looking out past Elvira and Arturo, over the orchestra pit, and out into the hall. I suppose the idea is to make the DVD – and the opera itself – seem more like a movie. It didn’t bother me, but I don’t think that the effect added much to the experience.
So: having paid my bel canto dues for the month, I will now return to the regularly scheduled Baroque programming. I wonder what else the library has purchased since I last checked?