Brooklyn Academy of Music

David et Jonathas at BAM

David-et-jonathas-2013* Notes * 
William Christie and Les Arts Florissants are currently performing Charpentier's David et Jonathas at BAM. The production is from Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and is directed by Andreas Homoki of Opernhaus Zürich. The set consists of wooden walls that can shift and move along two Cartesian axes. The blond wood used for walls and furniture has a clean simplicity. The lighting design likewise is elegant. The costumes reflected the updated setting of the Mediterranean in the 1930s or thereabouts.

The singing was pleasant enough. The chorus sounded harmonious. Dominque Visse certainly sounded unnatural as La Pythonisse, and seemed to relish his role. Neal Davies raged as Saul. Ana Quintans made for a clear-toned Jonathas and Pascal Charbonneau sang David with vibrancy.

Best of all was the ensemble itself. Under the direction of William Christie, Les Arts Florissants sounded wonderfully sprightly. The precision of the playing did not suffer from the lively beauty of the performance.

* Tattling * 
The three people in Row N Seats 35 through 39 on the orchestra level were monstrously ill-behaved. First of all, they were in the wrong seats and had to be asked to move over. Then the three talked aloud, despite being hushed by more than one person. One of them had some sort of noisy and possibly unhygienic habit, another one fell asleep and snored.

Pina Bausch's "...como el musguito..."

Como-el-musguito* Notes * 
Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal returned to Brooklyn Academy of Music to present Bausch's last work "...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si..." in a run of eight performances. I caught the last one on Saturday night. The piece is based on the company's experiences in Santiago, Chile and involves Bausch's characteristic delightful, yet disturbing style of juxtaposing images, movement, and text. The stage was rather sparse, with a shape made in black tape across the floor. Occasionally a chair was brought in, or ropes, or branches. There was much about love and time. The sixteen dancers (pictured above) were in evening dress, including many bright gowns and dark suits.

Women did backbends and dropped stones. Potatoes were thrown, as were corks. Water was poured, people were slapped, Clémentine Deluy carried a tree in a backpack. Fernando Suels Mendoza got a lot of laughs as he greeted each of the female dancers as they walked diagonally across the stage. Tsai-Chin Yu fearlessly struggled to break free of a rope tied around her waist. Ditta Miranda Jasjfi was spun in a most impressive manner. In short, the two hours and forty minutes was packed with beautiful, elusive, and often staggering imagery.

* Tattling *
There was some whispering and talking from the audience. At two moments someone's iPhone had Siri activated, and she responded once with "I did not catch that" to the sounds of the performers.

Kepler at BAM

image from * Notes * 
The US premiere of Kepler by Philip Glass was last Wednesday night at BAM. The opera is rather more like an oratorio than an opera, being that of the 7 solo roles, only one was a named character, Kepler himself. All the singers were from the Upper Austrian State Theatre, Linz, and they acquitted themselves rather well, as far as the chorus is concerned. The soloists blended nicely together, but as Kepler, Martin Achrainer was difficult to hear over the heavy orchestration, as was tenor Pedro Velázquez Díaz. The soprano Alaine Rodin replaced Cassandra McConnell, and was somewhat shrill, but was otherwise inoffensive.

The Bruckner Orchester Linz played nicely under Dennis Russell Davies, though they overwhelmed the soloists at times, they were never painfully loud. As for the opera itself, charmingly enough the texts were in German and Latin, especially adorable was when Kepler sang about the polyhedral models of the orbits of various planets. "Ohne echtes Wissen ist das Leben tot" also had a particular beauty.

* Tattling * 
The audience was fairly silent, though there was one watch alarm at each hour, and a few people left early despite there being no intermission.