Andrew's Opera was previously published at

05 April, 2011

“To double or not to double, that is the stuntman question.”

“To double or not to double, that is the stuntman question.”

A most interesting comparison. Rheingold in the theater (US spelling) was quite a different experience despite most of the same cast, same production, etc. Somehow I had expected more but got less. Most telling was that it was obvious live that there were stunt actors doing numerous feats we assumed (or at least I had assumed) were being done by the singers. The whole essence of opera, making it different from leider is that the singers dress up and act through a dramatic role as well as ‘bellow’ their challenging vocal parts.

Opera singers have always been called on to do the occasional stage ‘feat’ … like ride a horse, jump off a balcony, do a limp fall, sing in a harness about the stage, etc. I have even seen one modern tenor juggle on stage and do a hand stand (Roberto Alagna in Elixir of Love). But it necessarily interrupts the drama when scenes contain diversions where, during non-singing sections, the character disappears briefly and apparently reappears … sliding down a rope (Tosca), mounting a bridge or even being thrown across the stage (Tosca again) or doing other feats, only to reappear elsewhere on the stage before they start singing again.

Of course if this is all done cleverly and totally imperceptibly (as it was for me in the cinema) it can hardly matter. But when it is bleeding obvious (as must happen when it is slightly imperfect, the more so for those up close) then it is a distraction which necessarily takes ones mind and ear off the musical drama and back to the nuts and bolts of the staging details as happens at the circus and which is the very opposite, I believe, of what composers would have wanted for their works.

I am coming to some conclusions about telecasting operas … and there must be compromises made I know and funds from telecast will exceed the individual box office eventually I imagine. But this is a tectonic shift for the company and for opera generally where artistic decisions will now be based on the broadcast at the expense of those in the theatre itself … something I never thought would happen.

Link to Met site:
Andrew’s opera blog: