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Scenes from La Bohème set in outer space

December 3, 2017 by norman lebrecht

33 comments.


The Opéra de Paris has opened a provocative new production of La Bohème by Claus Guth.

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Life on Mars? No, that was Bowie.

Get me outa here!

The director’s hut.

all photos (c) Bernd Uhlig/Opéra National de Paris


Comments (33)

  1. Maria says:

    I think it’s a long time since “provocative” was actually provocative.

  2. Marie Cristine says:

    I attended the performance last friday.
    Radically off topic (director booed). More ridiculous and boring than really provocative.
    Too bad because both conductor and orchestra were at their best !
    “Close your eyes and listen to the music !” shouted someone during the peformance.

    1. Tenorlove says:

      Did Rodolfo sing “Mimi Jean’s not my lover” while he moon-walked?

      1. Marie Christine says:

        He didn’t walk on the moon at the beginning.
        Just sleeping and snoring during time out.

  3. Ryan Walsh says:

    Whenever I hear the terms ‘controversial production’ or ‘provocative production ‘ from opera company AD’s , (or their pr spin-doctors), my inner, experience/informed , google translate produces ‘awful, incompetent production’. I haven’t seen this one, (not likely to either) but it sure sounds like like yet another piece of directorial barbarism/sadism.

    No conductor or singer who performed to this level would ever work again , but I guess the offers will come rolling in now for the ‘visionary’ …

    1. Tenorlove says:

      When I hear those terms, I assume there will be naked people, whether the libretto calls for it or not.

  4. Cynical Bystander. says:

    This looks rather like an off side retread of the Doris Dörrie Rigoletto from Munich in 2005, one of the most gratuitous pieces of Regie Rubbish to grace the stage of the Nationaltheater, I write as a supporter of said Regie theater. Seems that whilst in the intervening years Ms Dörrie’s sojourns onto the Lyric stage have been seen for what they are, there are still houses that are prepared to chance a ‘scandale’ if it guarantees bums on seats for the most jaded of Bohemians.

    1. Ungeheuer says:

      Correct. Took place under Peter Jonas’ failed regime.

    2. RW2013 says:

      Nobody will be/has been asking the Dörrie to direct any more opera.
      http://operabase.com/a/Doris_Dörrie/4425

      And Guth has been losing it for the last few years – poor singers.

  5. Ungeheuer says:

    Scheiß

  6. John Borstlap says:

    The truly provocative opera production today would be an entirely loyal production, loyal to the work itself, that is. Audiences would love such provocation but critics would be outraged about ‘conservative tendencies’. Ironically, everything which was deemed progressive, provocative, transgressing boundaries etc. etc. (etc.) from the sixties onwards, has become stale and utterly conventional. Everybody knows, except the perpetrators.

  7. Cubs Fan says:

    Should have done the Leoncavallo. Then no one would care…

  8. Petros Linardos says:

    Meantime, Zeffirelli’s vision keeps me happy, critics be damned.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAS7r8Pd0k

    If only this production were released officially. But I can’t see how it will happen.

    1. John Borstlap says:

      A wonderful production…. but really VERY realistic and VERY naturalistic, which is not necessary. Yet, it is true to the nature of the work and thus, in this direction staging of any opera should be realized. (One can also stage Bohème more symbolically, which will give a less fussy effect and more ‘space’ to the music within the total impression, but the main point is loyalty to the work).

      1. Petros Linardos says:

        I agree that it is true to the nature of the work. I think the direction most definitely is. The sets may be unrealistically beautiful. I don’t see what is wrong with that, as long as they underline the story enables you to focus on the music undistracted. That’s how I felt when I attended twice a very similar Zeffirelli Boheme in Vienna in the 80s.

        1. John Borstlap says:

          I think you hit the nail on its head.

      2. Marie Christine says:

        I completely agree with you : the direction should underline the story. The staging in Paris instead kept away from the music.
        On the contrary concert versions like Andrea Chenier or Attila have proved very sucessful.

  9. Leo says:

    What is this good for?

    1. John Borstlap says:

      It prepares audiences for departure for the deserts of Mars, where colonists will crave for some earthy entertainment under their plastic domes.

  10. Eddie Lew says:

    Opera is being taken over by parasites; they prey on great works by doing to them what dogs do to fire-hydrants, put their scent on it. Next, we will have museums with works by Rembrandt and the rest repainted by no-talent hacks, making them “relevant” for the masses.

    This will continue until people do not show up and major singers put a stop to it.

    1. Leo says:

      People show up because they love opera, if they want to see a live one they have no alternative. There is no state opera house in Germany which doesn’t do “Regietheater”.

      And the big singers can’t put a stop to it, because the mafia of stage directors-intendants-agents will put a stop to the said singers’ income.

      Opera singers, facing the choice of compliance or hunger – usually choose the first.

      So the parasites have it easy: and endless supply of audience, and an endless supply of cheap indentured workforce.

    2. Maria says:

      Exactly. They’ve been riding on the coattails of the great composers for years, knowing that a substantial number of people will always turn up for the music regardless.

      Most of them would be nowhere otherwise.

      There’s a lot to be said for concert or semi-staged performances, IMO, and they’re more affordable.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        When a concert version of Wagner is performed in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, people are hanging in the lamps. They sit silently in calm extasy through an entire oratorio-like version of Parsifal:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7cAd9MXRMg

        Recently, the Bejing opera featured a reproduction of a Walküre production as staged by Karajan, who hated the Regieoper fashion.

        http://subterraneanreview.blogspot.nl/2015/06/established-modernism-celebration-of.html

        1. Eddie Lew says:

          The reason people sat in ecstasy at the concert performance of Parsifal is because Wagner already gives you the mis-en-scene in the music and the singers give you the emotional context of the characters. This is the essence of Wagner. Recently the Met did an execrable production of Tristan by the charlatan, Mariusz Trelinski, where every second was described in films and flashbacks on stage, sucking all the magic of the great work. He destroyed the work by over-illuminating and showing off his research; something Wagner would have abhorred.

          Concert performances of operas, any opera, may the the resuscitation of opera, not to mention cheaper to produce, where the audience member will bring his or her imagination while listening and feeling the emotional impact of the work without the filter of a mediocre parasitic “directors.”

        2. Eddie Lew says:

          John, the reason people sat in ecstasy at the concert performance of Parsifal is because Wagner already gives you the mis-en-scene in the music and the singers give you the emotional context of the characters. This is the essence of Wagner. Recently the Met did an execrable production of Tristan by the charlatan, Mariusz Trelinski, where every second was described in films and flashbacks on stage, sucking all the magic of the great work. He destroyed it by over-illuminating and showing off his research; something Wagner would have abhorred.

          Concert performances of operas, any opera, may the the resuscitation of opera, not to mention cheaper to produce, where the audience member will bring his or her imagination while listening and feeling the emotional impact of the work without the filter of a mediocre parasitic “directors.”

          1. John Borstlap says:

            Agreed…. it is the music which sets the audience’s imagination at work. But then you need to have good, expressive music.

  11. Sixtus says:

    Of course, in space no one can hear you scream . . . or sing, as the case may be.

    1. John Borstlap says:

      Well, that means that there is a whole army of singers that should be sent up there.

  12. Ben says:

    We need to have an ENO production of La Boheme with an egg roll + egg-noodle factory in Chinatown as backdrop.

    😉

  13. Jonathan Sutherland says:

    Claus Guth’s latest self-serving, gratuitous and utterly irrelevant staging of La Bohème for the Opéra de Paris should not be mistaken for Mars.
    More like Uranus.

    1. RW2013 says:

      Indeed, maybe he was mooning us to show how much he doesn’t like Puccini.

  14. Tristan says:

    It’s just sad the Guths on this earth do not choose new work where it might be suitable
    Instead they change Masterpieces into ridiculous productions and turn off people who still go to operas; they kill this genre and do not get it that young people hate such hideous masturbations! No wonder as in Paris you had mostly horrible productions stages as the current Manager doesn’t know anything about music; he sadly didn’t even recognise melodies from Carmen…I hope at least he would the Habanera!
    Those people run opera nowadays and kill it.

  15. Fred says:

    the first to put an opera up in space was Giancarlo Del Monaco with an Aida production in Cologne. Aida lends itself better to his madness than boheme I guess


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