Death in Venice at La Scala
March 21, 2011
* Notes *
Saturday night's performance of Death in Venice at Teatro alla Scala had a strong visual appeal. Unfortunately, since so many of the sightlines seem rather poor in the house, this aspect may have been lost on the droves of audience members that left at intermission. Jean Kalman's lighting was particularly beautiful, evoking the colors of Venice. The choreography, from Kim Brandstrup, was descriptive without being too mannered. The orchestra, conducted by Edward Gardner, shimmered and swirled. The percussionists played well, and with restraint, though one did drop a drumstick during Act I.
Because I barely know this opera, it was exceedingly difficult for me to gauge the quality of singers voices. I was struck by the clarity of Anna Dennis' tone, she was haunting as the strawberry-seller. John Graham-Hall certainly made a fine effort as Gustav von Aschenbach. He was believable in his acting, and seemed genuinely tortured. His last notes were especially eerie, though a bit rough.
* Tattling *
The person in Seat 5 of the Box 9 Right on the fourth floor felt that she could simply sit in Seat 1. When an American couple came to claim Seats 1 and 2, the woman in Seat 5 was extremely annoyed. She made a great fuss and her companion, in another box, came in and there was much arguing in a Slavic language. Unfortunately, this was during the music, and they were sternly hushed. Finally they were frightened off by a certain Limburger. After intermission, the nice American couple wished us well, and took off, since they were rather jet-lagged. As mentioned earlier, audience attrition was marked, about 30% of the attendees left.