Well, I went last Saturday to see the long-expected MET Broadcast. It was generally positive experience but it had own “apocalyptical” tones… “I do not know how to begin…”
| Romy the Cat wrote:|
| I will be waiting for the February 24 with my tail trammeling…|
Sure, I was very enthusiastic to see Renée Fleming as Tatiana after her very wonderful performance in concert version on Onegin in 2000. Renée looked sensational and her transformation in 17 year old Tatiana was… well with her opoenning I I juts did not recognize her. Her singings were OK but not as good as in 2000. It felt like she was “less trying” of you know what I mean. Renée is a wonderful actor but other type of actor then it necessary for Onegin. Her overlay mannered gestures kind of looked ridicules at begin and I got a feeling that a salsa dancer came to dance in the second act of “Swan Lake”. Eventually I grew on Renée acting and in the end I accepted it and it did not bother me. Sure there are some Renée’s motions that I would like to have alerted but what is the alternative? To have the typical Russian singer who will again to sit in her chair like a beech whale? In the end I kind of like that “animated” Tatiana, so the direction was good. It was of course the animation with some inflection of cheap American sentimentalism but, hey, - this his how all operas are being produced nowadays…
Dmitry Hvorostovsky was OK as Onegin. I’m not a big fan of this singer but Onegin is not as “flashy” character and I think that Hvorostovsky is well suited for the roll.
Lensky was played by Mexican Ramón Vargas. Because some reasons that I will mention below in the first part Ramón was horrible. He was so bad that I can wait unit Onegin will kill him…. But the tables completely turned in the second acts. Well it was not necessary the Ramón’s problem – the MET broadcast completely butchered Ramón Vargas’ performance – I will talk about it later…
Tow other characters deserve to me mentioned Svetlana Volkova as Tatiana mother – she was nice and “secure” I might say. The real thrill was Larisa Shevchenko singing Tatiana’s nanny. The nanny is my favorite character in the entire poem and the second duet between the nanny and Tatiana is my absolute beloved moment on entries the entire Onegin opera. Svetlana Volkova did a phenomenal singing and acting (wherever she was not destroyed by the stupid orchestra).
To me, Onegin, all this glory
is tinsel on a life I hate;
this modish whirl, this social story,
my house, my evenings, all that state --
what's in them? All this loud parading,
and all this flashy masquerading,
the glare, the fumes in which I live,
this very day I'd gladly give,
give for a bookshelf, a neglected
garden, a modest home, the place
of our first meeting face to face,
and the churchyard where, new-erected,
a humble cross, in woodland gloom,
stands over my poor nanny's tomb.
The stupid orchestra… This was disaster. The orchestra itself was not the end of the world, made mistakes here and there but it was near “passable”. The orchestra was lead by the celebrated Valery Gergiev, not my beloved conductor but he has his moments. What was absolutely divesting in the performance that over entire opera I experience perhaps 3-4 moments when orchestra actually met what the singers did. Sometimes I really thought that video and audio are being transmitted live via different feed and they just not synchronized. Rhythmically Gergiev orchestra was OK but absolutely off the coordination with singers. Very-very unfortunate and torturing to listen….
I also was no into the Robert Carsen productions. I understand that MET went for Manhattan-type abstract kitsch. I hardly worked for Onegin. The white walls from a Museum of Modern Art and 3 trees that looked like Florida’s palms were so ridicules that it was even finny. The villagers from the firs act were dressed very funny, hardly Russian and they danced like a Jew-dentists during their kids bar-mitzvah. I was anticipating that now Baryshnikov will jump to the stage accompanied with a Russian bare on a leash and they will begin to dance the Dagestanian’s Lezginka. Thanks god it did not happen….
Still, dispute all imperfections it was appreciated that American MET try to runs Russian-language production of Eugene Onegin…. but unfortunate here is where the all event participant were absolutely screwed by absolutely senseless Broadcast.
They did not allow anyone on the theater because they according to the theater’s employee were “finishing with sound check”. I told to a friend one mine that it should be very good. Then what the prelude started I though that Gergiev put a part of his orchestra somewhere in corridor in order to get the Mahler “voices from other side”… Then when they opened opera I realized that we all screwed. It was not juts bad sound it was apocalypticly bad sound!!!!
First off all it was probably 25db (!!!!!) less than it should be, it was so soft that it sounded physically broken. Then it was not juts compressed but it was swashed to inhumane level. I was not able to distinct sound of cello sections form second violin and I would not able be able to recognize the word the singers of I do not know them. To insult the injury the sound had no high frequency above 6kHz. Pretend it – a hugely compressed mid-range noise transmitted at 70dB - what the experience of the opera spectacle!!!
Well, I admit that I’m not familiar with what sound people have in movie theaters. The last time I was in movie theaters it was I think 1999. All that I do and know about public sound is my trips to classical performances and my listening of my own playback. So, it is possible that that sound that we had in there was a typical movie theaters but a friend of my who was with me told me that when he do to movie theaters then sound is way better. I can give you that ease idea how it sounded. Take 150Hz horn; load it with a MF driver that dies of at 6K and stick you head deep into the mouth of the horns. The sound you will hear will be execalsy the sound of the MET via that broadcast. Anyhow, I was sitting during the first part boring like hell and was contemplated to leave. Then right after the end of the first act they tuned the light on and begin to show the “behind the stage film”. It was very nice and I decided to stay.
For whatever second in the second act sound become better - they slightly reduced compression and added a lot more volume, almost making it as it should be. It was almost tolerable and it completely changed the entire perception of opera. The disgusting Mexican Ramón with his voice of eating pig suddenly turned into a pleasant and intelligent bel canto and the MET orchestra stopped to sound at they played the one singe note. Nope, the sound was still light miles away from the sound as it should be but it did also to finch watching the opera without a desire to fall asleep.
I was recording the FM broadcast and when I got home I played it and confirmed the FM sound was perfectly fine. So, it is so shame that theaters broadcasting to was so bad and killed everything. It was a in particularly a big surprise to me because in the reviews that I read about other MET-to-Theaters broadcasts people drooled how wonderful sound was… Perhaps it was me no lucky theater….
BTW, I have to add that that the cameras work was very-very good: very sensible, very tasteful with some very minor touch of Yankee-sensationalism but I have seen much worst and I do like what MET camera crew did. The quality of imagery was extremely poor; I do not even know where to start describing it. In the end of the broadcast when they shut down the MET feed it was beaming the Windows XP desktop. To me, the entire redacts looked like it was done over AOL with $200-worth projector with sound coming from another 8-bit .mp3 file. Ah, did I tell you that these audio and videos were optimized for broadcast to telephones and the sever had no bandwidth because the operator in a next cinema was downloading porno?Rgs,
Well, from what I have seen I do not think that I will be going to the MET-to-theaters broadcast anymore…. The modernly, near-moderately compressed FM just juts fine to me and I do not need any more disappointments…
Romy the caT
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche