14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Musically superb, Staging spiritually poor and grossly distorted.,
This review is from: Handel : Theodora [DVD]  [NTSC] (DVD)
Musically excellent. In all fairness the concept and staging by Sellars does have moments of illumination, but since Theodora is about Christian martyrdom, i.e. a religious work,(it is not about political tyranny,as Sellars interprets it, even though perhaps Sellars may be trying to say that American politics are a form of state religious tyranny), this interpretation by Sellars is spiritually poor, pagan and godless. This interpretation has stripped the work of every hint of its delicate religious, mystical and spiritual passion. Buy it for the music, (you can basically and easily ignore the staging most of the time) and to see how culturally and spiritually poor our period is, so that when this work is properly done by someone who understands what it is all about, and feels its spiritual nobility, you will have a basis of comparison. It is quite significant that the final chorus to be sung by the Christians is instead sung by the heathens in this staging!
Luckily this performance has now been issued on CD so you can hear this magnificent performace without this ridiculous staging. See: (Glyndebourne: GFOCD 014-96) Box set.
Some general ideas of mine and quotes applicable to this staging:
1) Sellars is one of those stage producers who is ignorant of Barogue theatre practice and the art of Baroque music in general, and this staging is an example of this ignorance.
2) This production is an example of self-indulgence and the urge to shock which obstructs the appreciation of Handel. The staging is an expression of a bloated ego, which thinks it is more important and greater than the genius Handel himself.
3) The antics of this modern stage producion "stem from ignorance, cynicsim, and the lust to exploit a hyperactive ego. The results are the defamation of the work of art as by Graffitti, the servant is exalted above the master, and the public is sold damaged goods" from "Winton Dean Production Style in Handel" Cambridge University Companion to Handel.
4) Irrelevant stage distractions as those abounding in this production produce a "desolating vulgarity and CONTEMPT for the work of Art" Winton Dean, ibid.
"If one is to believe the historians of the seventeenth century, stage directors did not yet exist. What a fortunate age! One could attend an opera without having to close one's eyes. One could take delight in it, listen to it and watch it at the same time, without feeling welling up within oneself, scene by scene, that dull anger which is very bad for one's peace of mind." Philippe Beaussant (La Monde de la Musique, April 2005)
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Feb 2015, 08:23:20 GMT
Melomane (aka A.B.) says:
Hello, Marcolorenzo. About the final chorus, it was a near impossibility to have it sung by the Christians because of the time-consuming costume change, since both choral groups were sung by the same chorus members. However, I think that Sellars's point is that even the Heathens (including Valens himself) are moved by Theodora and Didymus's fate, which is evident in their own chorus 'How strange their ends', where they express admiration for the two martyrs, so the final chorus being sung by them makes sense. I saw this production live and found it absolutely riveting.
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Feb 2015, 10:10:01 GMT
Glad you liked this production. Tastes in everything are extremely different, since they are influenced by a hosts of factors. For me this still remains an unwatchable performance and Sellers a terribly musically ignorant, egotistical and vain director.
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