25 October 2010

Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov
Modest Petrovich Musorgsky
1872 version, with scenes from 1869 original
Metropolitan Opera, New York
cinema broadcast in HD live, 23 October 2010
cond. Valery Gergiev
production Stephen Wadsworth
with René Pape (Boris Godunov)

I am far from being an opera buff, and found the four hours of performance a bit of an ordeal despite the wonderful voice and acting presence of bass René Pape in the title role. I was most impressed, if not moved, by the death scene of the hallucinating Tsar, and the poignant closing lament for Russia of the Holy Fool (yurodivy, sung by tenor Andrey Popov).

If the libretto was more historically accurate the opera would have lost its main premise. It is doubtful that Boris, then regent, murdered the heir to the throne, Tsarevich Dmitri.

17 October 2010

Out of Context — for Pina

Out of Context — for Pina
dir. Alain Platel (2010)
les ballets C de la B
Fleck Dance Theatre
Harbourfront, Toronto
16 October 2010

A highly intricate and ultimately brilliant piece, it flows through many transitions, with movements and sounds ranging from spastic and animal to more normal and casual, but with constant surprises. With six men and three women mostly in skivvies, sometimes covered with blankets, there are many levels of relationships, but mostly they are individuals in an uncertain continuum.

A Disappearing Number

A Disappearing Number
conceived and directed by Simon McBurney (2007)
performed by Complicite *
Theatre Royal Plymouth
cinema broadcast 14 October 2010

mathematicians Srinivasa Ramanujan and Godfrey Harold Hardy collaborate in 1914 (theme)

* Théâtre de la Complicité
(original name of the experimental company)

A Disappearing Number is a decidedly clever, imaginatively experimental, but problematical and in many ways puzzling play. I was unable to get emotionally involved in what passed for a plot, with separate but intellectually intersecting individuals. I can inherently appreciate the beauty of elegant mathematical proofs, yet that hardly makes for drama to this remote observer. The play kept harping at the significance of infinity — awesome in imagination, less so on stage. Given the origin of the one genius, a fair dollop of Indian mysticism was interjected by the end of the day. It felt gratuitous.