Mariinsky Opera

The Kirov in Costa Mesa, CA

* Notes*
It was my intention to go to the Kirov's production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, which ran from 6-11. October in Orange County. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but I did make it to the matinee performance of Boris Godunov yesterday. They did the 1869 version of the work with no intermission, it lasted a mere 140 minutes.

This Boris Godunov co-production with La Scala was directed by Victor Kramer. Georgy Tsypin's set had an underwater theme, the changes of set were fairly minimal, screens might hide parts of the stage, scenery descended from above, and chorus members pushed out props. There were four columns, two had enormous fish scales on them, and the other two had echinoderms, bubbles, and shells. There were also various garlic-shaped lamps that looked somewhat like human-sized anemones with sea urchin shells. At one point some descended all the way to the ground and spun like tops. It was quite amusing, though the audience did not seem to react much to this absurdity, though some number of people left all together. Many of Tatiana Noginova's costumes had reflective qualities here and there, they seemed a bit random, the chorus seemed bundled in ski jackets, the daughter of Boris wears a somewhat medieval gown made of burned-out white velvet and a beaded headdress that one can find at an Egyptian import store.

The singing was uninspired, though the choral parts were pleasing. Nikolay Putilin was not bad as the title character, he had better volume than most of the others, but not a great deal of stamina. Anastasia Kalagina's wailing was nearly intolerable, at least her part as Xenia is small. Yevgeny Akimov was a plaintive fool, he was confined to a garlic-shaped cage on hidden wheels. Lyubov Sokolova's warm tones were a welcome relief in Scene 4, she also had good volume.

* Tattling *
I was under the impression that the Orange County Performing Arts Center had a new hall, so I was somewhat nervous about finding it, but after finding the box office and stepping inside, it seemed to me this was the same hall I had been in many times before. Apparently, I must have gotten a specially-priced rush ticket, because I was given the choice of a 20 or 10 dollar ticket, instead of the usual $50-225. The seat I got was eight rows back in the center of the orchestra section. Also, later I learned that there is a new concert hall at the Performing Arts Center, but it is a smaller than the main stage, and opera performances still take place at the latter location.

The people to either side of me were completely silent throughout, but the people behind had to switch seats, and the people in front kept whispering until they just decided to leave.

One person's ticket was cut off on one side, and the usher could not figure out where his seat was and told him to just sit in Row H and keep moving down if someone had the seat he was in. By the time the opera started he must have been in Seat 23.