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Thread: Opera on 3 12.02.2011 Nixon in China

  1. #21
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    I really enjoyed this, the picture and sound were superb. I thought there were too many close-ups when showing the full stage would have more impact although to me the third act came over better than at ENO because of that. We lost the picture for two or three minutes in the ballet, I don't know if it was just us (Cineworld Hull). I always thought these live relays were a bit expensive but at £12 for four hours was very happy, perhaps competition is creeping in as every cinema chain seems to be showing plays and operas now. Only about fifty in the audience but hopefully that makes a profit. Apparently it was being broadcast to schools across USA, it would be good to extend that over here.

  2. #22
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    For DracoM, while I don't claim ESP regarding what Maddalena was thinking to take on the role, in spite of the wear and tear on his voice, I can think of several reasons to say "yes" to this offer:

    1. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing the role that he created, at the main citadel of opera in America.
    2. 3 of the 4 original creators are working on this production, 23 years later, the composer, choreographer, and stage director. Plus, if the NYT review is to be believed, Alice Goodman (librettist) may have been in NYC for the first night. So to have all 4 original creators on this opera present is truly a "once and never again" opportunity.
    3. The chance to spread the word about this opera to the biggest single simultaneous audience that it will ever have, at both the Met in real time and space and worldwide cinema audiences virtually simultaneously, factoring in satellite delays in the transmission.

    Under those circumstances, heck, I would have "yes". I don't think money comes into it so much.

    It's true that Maddalena's voice isn't what it was, and deep down, I suspect that he knows that. But he can act any other singer under the table in this role, and in an HD-transmission, that counts for a lot. I generally agree with the tenor of comments that the two women stole the show in Act II, Janis Kelly and Kathleen Kim. I'd forgotten how cruel the portrait of Kissinger is in the opera, although Richard Paul Fink runs with it as much as he can. It was a nice touch to see the orchestra musicians tapping their bows and applauding Adams himself in the pit.

    It was kind of amusing, in an admittedly smug way, to overhear comments from the close-minded biddies leaving the theater about "I don't like modern opera", "this isn't Verdi", blah-blah. I really want to pound some sense into these people that Puccini and Verdi are dead and the world has moved on; get over it.

    For Bryn, regarding whether this production will make it to DVD, I don't know for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me. Several of the Met HD's have indeed made it to DVD, and assuming that copyright/royalties stuff can be worked out with Adams, Goodman et al., there's a chance. The Met's Doctor Atomic is now out on DVD, for example:

    http://www.metoperashop.org/product/...000006532.aspx

    BTW, bonus article by Max Frankel in the NYT, where he does take down some of the distortions of history, as he was actually present in China for the event:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/ar...pagewanted=all

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by nersner View Post
    I really enjoyed this, the picture and sound were superb. I thought there were too many close-ups when showing the full stage would have more impact although to me the third act came over better than at ENO because of that. We lost the picture for two or three minutes in the ballet, I don't know if it was just us (Cineworld Hull). I always thought these live relays were a bit expensive but at £12 for four hours was very happy, perhaps competition is creeping in as every cinema chain seems to be showing plays and operas now. Only about fifty in the audience but hopefully that makes a profit. Apparently it was being broadcast to schools across USA, it would be good to extend that over here.
    Nersner, I know what you mean about the big close ups - I wonder if this was Sellars wanting to show off those wonderful wigs he was so enthusing about in his interview! Here at City Screen in York we didn't lose picture at all but there were a few sound 'drop-outs' (which seem to be a regular feature of cinecasts at this cinema). Your ticket was certainly a bargain - City Screen charges £25 for the Met cinecasts. My members' ticket was £19.50 - still fantastic value to see this performance though!

  4. #24
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    Well, here is a Naysayer. I listened to the first half hour and, at first, rather enjoyed the jazzy rhythms.

    But then it dawned on me where I'd heard it before...Koyaanisqatsi by Philip Glass. So who came first?

    Then it started to grate...same old..same old..just went on and on and on..never going anywhere....bit like a migraine that gnaws away at you...and switched it off.

  5. #25
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    Thanks nersner, I see the DVD is availble from hmv.com for £11.99 including p&p.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryn View Post
    Thanks nersner, I see the DVD is availble from hmv.com for £11.99 including p&p.
    You've got me all excited now! But I can't find that, any pointers? The only one I've seen was the original production on Operapassion but that was NSTC.

  7. #27
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    Sorry, I was referring to the NY Met Doctor Atomic. I already have the Dutch production on DVD, but have now taken a chance on the Met one, too. That said, I am not that much taken with Doctor Atomic. I too have a DVD recordable from one of the opera DVD transcriptions sites. It's from an analogue transmission and transferred from VHS by the look of it. Still, better than nothing, I suppose.

  8. #28
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    This is one of my all-time favourite pieces of music. Not just favourite opera, not just favourite 20th Century opera. I borrowed it on CD in 2003, I saw it at ENO in 2006, and it was a joy to see it at the Phoenix at East Finchley (£25!).

    The Peter Sellars production is beautiful and inspired, and it was wonderful to see him enthuse about it, and to have him direct the cameras on the night. Obviously, I think the music is fab (and contains so much more lyric sections and tunes than naysayers would have you believe - both Pat Nixon's Act II, sc 1 aria "This is prophetic" and Chou En-Lai's Act I, sc 3 speech "Ladies and Gentlemen" are up there with Leoncavallo, say I), and the singing was wonderful. Even taking into account what I am about to say next, this was one of my most enjoyable nights at the opera, and it was in a cinema!

    Having said all that...

    What were they all thinking, letting Maddalena sing that role? Sellars, Adams, Gelb, are all culpable. The strain was not just on his voice but on our ears. Did anyone else see his eye twitching horribly in the close-ups? A sign of stress, and nerves, I guess. I was very disappointed with his singing. A real shame, especially when held up his original performance, captured so well in the Edo de Waart recording soon after the premiere, as well as the line-up with whom he shared the stage.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eine Alpensinfonie View Post
    One of my favourite modern operas. . . .
    We regret to say that we find this almost inconceivable; for we doubt that we would derive as much as a single second's pleasure from the audition thereof. It takes "allsorts" we suppose.

  10. #30
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    Having these days a very prickly attitude to opera, there being no end of musical, emotional, and social reasons why I might not enjoy an opera, I am please to report that this opera scored 10/10 as far as I was concerned.

    The last opera to do this was Birtwistle's Orpheus, played in stage version at the Proms. In the meantime, I regretfully had to drop Meistersinger, for lack of female involvement.

    The topicality of this opera was for me a big plus factor. Inteesting to note that within four years of this visit, Mao and Chou-en-lai were dead and of course Nixon had his Watergate. Must investigate that further.

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