Music for Hiding from ESPN

I fled campus on Friday afternoon without going to the library for a DVD, because The Big Game is happening this weekend (our football team is playing that of a neighboring state school and ESPN is here) so I ended up watching part of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi from the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2012. It’s a bootleg of a live broadcast, with Netrebko and Kasarova in the two main roles, and I discovered when watching it that rather than the entire opera, I have two copies of Act II. So, I watched Act II. Perhaps someday I will find Act I.

But Act II is pretty good. It begins with Juliet (Netrebko) wandering across the stage on what looks like the back of a half-pipe in a little poofy white dress, agonizing over the fate of Romeo; Lorenzo (here a doctor rather than a friar as in the play – was this a case of the Italian censors being squeamish?) arrives with the Death Roofie, which Juliet takes*, appears to die and is put in the tomb, and then Romeo shows up, etc. etc. we know how this goes. The staging is very simple, just a long set of stairs and a few other open spaces, with one large illuminated circle that evokes the moon for Romeo’s “Deserto è il loco.” At the end, the two characters, having killed themselves, are standing and wandering, dazed, forward as the lights darken. I am not always a super-fan of Anna Netrebko, but I really liked her here. And I always forget how convincing Kasarova is in these trouser roles. I don’t know how she does it, but as ever she’s proof, as if we needed more, that you don’t have to look “boyish” to nail these characters.

You’ve seen those “Sassy gay friend” commentaries on Shakespeare’s plays, right? I personally find the “straight girl’s sassy gay sidekick” trope both tired and annoying, and any series that consistently ends with the girl being referred to (to the viewer, not to the character’s face) as a “stupid bitch” even in fun rubs me the wrong way, but the line in the Romeo and Juliet one about “oh my god, you took a roofie from a priest?!” is spot on. And the bit in the one about Hamlet that’s along the lines of “you’re going to kill yourself over Hamlet? Hamlet?! He stabbed your dad through a curtain!” is also pretty good.)

7 thoughts on “Music for Hiding from ESPN

  1. It’s not based on Shakespeare’s play, rather on Italian versions of the story, hence why it’s a bit different and Lonrenzo isn’t a friar. Even I would rather watch AN climb into a sink than have to put up with a local school game 😉 unless it was Arsenal playing… in their better days. I should ponder Arsenal vs. AN. I was already thinking that Iestyn Davies reminds me of Lionel Messi but I think it’s just me… anyway, soccer, right.

    I hated that Capuleti production (not only because I had to put up with AN in a belcanto role) but I’ll have to get it one day (hopefully both acts, can’t do without Romeo’s entrance and the fun mess that is Act I finale).


        1. actually in the theater it was GREAT. problem is with camera zoom. the horse saddle thingy, i only have 1 problem with it: it blocked my view from the top to VK sometimes… the duet is of course to *die* for 😉 . the stair scene is act 1 ending is particular effective in theater. also the tomb scene, from 5th floor balcony, gives you the chill! they really didn’t need that much zooming, cut everything off…

          (ps- and on that day of broadcast, of course there was even a *bigger* match, championship league with munich playing! so the newspapers were all discussing AN vs Bayern München..)


          1. oh, the stair scene was fun, I liked that. That and VK’s New Rock boots. And Bayern Munchen is a great team, no contest there 😀 they know how to run that town – great opera house, great team, all paid for by the tax payers. I’d move to Munich if I spoke any German.


        2. ps- “the silly ending” : actually i didn’t think it was silly.. though took me 4 tries to understand it.. you just need the right “actresses”, and AN is very intuitive in acting as well i found, so she and VK (and only VK, put someone else in that role, i really cant say if you even can understand..), suddenly that whole staging worked (from 5th balcony perspective 😉 )


          1. I think my main problem is with the fact that there are so few video recordings of Capuleti. This ending is too symbolic instead of just straight up omg, Giulietta/omg, Romeo/ both slump over and die. I wanted some proper dying 😉 as opposed to something that looked like communication breakdown. I agree with you that it might have looked even weirder with lesser actresses.


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