Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt
cpratt

Dear LA Opera: KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF ALREADY

Seven things wrong with DER AUFSTIEG UND FALL DER STADT MAHAGONNY

1. If you're going to sing this as "an opera," sing it in German for God's sake. This sounds absolutely terrible in translation. Don't sing "The world is so rotten" - try "The world's full of shit" or something that sounds less ridiculous, OK?

2. If you're going to sing MAHAGONNY, please don't sing it as opera, okay? I can't understand a God damn thing anyone is singing because it's oversung: this is almost anti-Brecht! The text is so completely obfuscated through intense singing technique that only a veneer of "singing" remains. That famous "alienation effect?" It doesn't mean that you're supposed to have no connection with the text: it means that you're supposed to be acutely aware that someone wrote it, and thinking about what it means. If all you're hearing is a bunch of vibrato and technique, you can't hear the text.

3. Those loudspeaker interruptions between scenes? They're supposed to be interruptions. They're not supposed to be neatly layered between scenes. Even better: Try getting someone to read them who doesn't sound like a hairdresser with dinner theater experience in Maine. The idea is to interrupt, shock, and get across a feeling of tackiness, of rudeness. It's not supposed to sound like an Atlanta Masterpiece Theater outtake.

4. Could you possibly consider spending less money on the sets? Everything is too pretty: it distracts from the text and the music, which is the point of the whole thing. You're not supposed to stare idly at the stage and think wow, that's an amazingly beautifully designed girder. Is that a reference to the tilted bar at the beginning of EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH?

5. Similarly, whores are supposed to look like whores, not like Busby Berkeley extras. Are you really so fucking stupid that you think whores wear color-coordinated shapeless muu-muu type things? Similarly, do you know any whores that sound like fucking Beverly Sills when they sing? We're talking oppressed members of the working class here, so have 'em look and sing the part, would you?

6. In you're going to see a drag king revue, you'd expect to see obviously fake beard stubble applied with a foam sponge or whatever. Any potential woof factor is completely destroyed by this: all of the potentially woofy chubby dudes in the production wind up looking like Phranc gone to seed. It's not pretty, and the rouge doesn't help either.

7. Finally, PLEASE STOP MAKING THE MUSIC SOUND SO PRETTY. You've taken all the feeling and interest out of it; it all sounds like it's being generated on a Synclavier. There's nothing lamer than "jazz" that sounds like it's being generated by a Michael Bolton algorithm.

Totally disappointing, and SO not worth your time. Avoid avoid avoid. It's revolting: it's as if any of the genius, politics, or point of the whole thing have been destroyed and a tacky Thomas Kinkade meets Arthur Fiedler diorama have been put up instead.
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