Jump to content

Thinking of seeing William Tell? DON'T


MAB
 Share

Recommended Posts

There have been a lot of lousy productions at the Royal Opera of late, but William Tell takes the biscuit.  I'm not going to outline all the horrors, I'm hoping time will be kind and I'll quickly forget. 

 

Booing at the curtain calls when the production team come on stage has been frequent (and totally deserved) recently, but show stopping vociferous booing in the middle of the opera is something you rarely encounter.  Never can it have been more deserved with the audience having to endure a graphic gang rape to some of the most famous ballet music ever written for an opera.

 

It's cliché I know, but poor old Rossini must really be spinning in his grave right now.  Fabulous opera, rarely performed and completely rubbished on the London stage.  it makes me want to weep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another review from the Guardian and as usual a great many comments following with 99% not having actually been there and most being opera-phobes anyway:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jun/30/guillame-tell-review-royal-opera-house-sex-violence-and-protacted-booing

 

I remember a few years ago a work by Xavier de Frutos upsetting the audience greatly, where I particularly disliked the kicking of a pregnant woman I seem to remember.  However creative artists come up with turkeys from time to time and reaction was tempered by the fact that De Frutos is frequently touched by genius.  The Royal Opera on the other hand is reaching a period in it's history where the majority of it's productions are unwatchable, and William Tell is the latest in a long list of the truly terrible.   The are growing calls for Kasper Holten to go, and although he occasionally gets things right, such as his own production of Krol Roger, almost everything now is so bad you do best to watch with your eyes closed.

 

I feel Antonio Pappano must be complicit in all this and his allowing of the final tableau to be cut from the current Don Giovanni doesn't reflect well on him as a musician.  I only hope that his replacement (please God let it be Bychkov) will take a firmer hand with the rogue producers and give us intelligent, appropriate productions once more.  At has been noted that next season looks rather unexciting with few major names appearing, the reason is obvious because if I were a world class singer I wouldn't want to appear in one of these hideous productions either.

 

From my seat in the slips it appeared people had walked out in the interval, but couldn't tell how many, the Guardian seems to think a fair number.  I didn't leave because I'd never seen the opera before and because wonderful Gerald Finley was singing the title role.  The booing when it occurred was spontaneous, it was an outburst of sheer anger at what an audience was being forced to watch, it was very  prolonged and was I believe a display of frustration against the awfulness we were enduring.  The same production team will be giving us a new Cav & Pag shortly and I hear people are already returning their tickets and I don't blame them.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't get tickets for Tell and now I am very glad I didn't.  What is the ROH trying to do?  Attract a younger audience to the opera by showing graphic, abusive sex onstage?  The current production of Rigoletto has all kinds of things going on during the overture, such as two men obviously having sex in an upstairs window.  Personally, I find it insulting that some director thinks that they have to interpret Verdi's music for me.  All you have to do is listen, and the music tells you all there is to know about the corruption and decadence in the Duke of Mantua's court.  I don't need to have it shoved in my face.  In the case of all the excellent composers, please let our own imaginations take care of the music, and the singers interpret the words.  There is enough awfulness all around us, and I don't need it in a place where I go to remind myself of the beauty of what humanity can achieve, not its ugliness.

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The BBC had a longish article about this production linked from its front page earlier today, not from the arts area where you usually have to go in order to find stuff about opera. Apparently it's really hit a nerve with people, and from the descriptions I can see why.

 

I remember reading criticisms of both Outlander and Game of Thrones recently for the way they depicted casual nudity and sexual violence against women, and the showrunners' and directors' response of "oh well, but it was a brutal time back then and women weren't very well treated" is being less and less readily accepted as an excuse. I think (at least I hope) this is a trend that's finally peaked.
 

Edited by Melody
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I have a ticket for Britten's Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne in a few weeks time, I am not so precious that I can't watch an unpleasant episode on stage,.  However this was a terrible production that was going from bad to worse and the totally inappropriate rape scene was the straw that broke the camel's back for me and scores of others.  Btw, the booing was coming from all parts of the house not just the upper areas where the opera buffs tend to congregate.  People walked out in the stalls and the amphi and I imagine all areas in between, I hear they may be discussing it on LBC this morning so this incident could be going mainstream and I very much hope   STOP...............   I decided to ring LBC and spoke to Iain Dale and explained just why I booed and he appeared to agree with everything I said. 

 

Perhaps if this incident gets enough publicity the ROH just might reconsider its production values.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe the ROH will realise that they have overstepped the mark here.  As I said above, most of us don't need to have abuse and horror thrown in our faces.  As with the best horror movies, the unseen menace is the most frightening.  As with the best horror movies, the best directors are those who give us enough to start thinking, and using our imaginations, and creating as much fear as we need, or want.  It is the implied threat that makes us scared, and thus makes a horror movie work.  It should be the same in these operas.  A clever director just needs to give the audience enough of a hint of what is happening, then we can take it from there.  Furthermore, if I felt the need to see a stranger's bits and pieces, there are little places in Soho where I could go for that, and for a lot less money.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...