The Playgoer: Opera/Theatre

Custom Search

Friday, September 15, 2006



[Bartlett] Sher will shepherd a new production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and [Jack]O'Brien will pilot Il Trittico by Puccini. They're only two of the many talents from the theatre world whom the Met's new general manager Peter Gelb has coaxed into the heretofore staid and steady world of New York's greatest opera house.

Also expected to collect a paycheck from the Met in coming seasons: directors Mary Zimmerman, Richard Eyre and Nicholas Hytner; actresses Kristin Chenoweth and Audra McDonald; choreographer Mark Morris; and, as part of joint commissioning venture between the Met and LCT, composers Adam Geuttel, Jeanine Tesori, Michael John LaChiusa and playwrights Tony Kushner and John Guare.

In Europe it's routine for directors to flow freely between theatre and opera. My impression is that many American directors do plenty of Opera gigs, but in smaller houses or abroad. So this is a welcome step for our premiere opera house to finally engage our premiere theatre directors, and not just keep hiring the same old traffic directors who teach everyone how to stay out of Pavorotti's way.

Ok, that's unfair to most of the Met's directors, I'm sure. In fact, many inventive European directors have become familiar names there, like Jonathan Miller. But it's about time they drew on the great resource of American theatre artists, which only strengthens their development and might help nurture an American opera aesthetic.

Also, this move can help remind us that opera is theatre. It is the music-drama. Perhaps American theatre people haven't been as involved in opera as Europeans because we don't have as much of a native operatic tradition, and repertory. American theatre artists deserve to be stretched and especially directors deserve to work on the great operatic-dramatic works on a large scale.

I'm frankly less interested in what John Guare and Kristin Chenoweth can contribute to the form, but hey, the more the merrier.

No comments: