Just in: ROH tones down rape, covers up victim

PR man Mark Borkowski was at the second performance of William Tell at Covent Garden last night. He saw,

‘a production about as raunchy as an in flagrante tussle in Downton. Rather than being naked the actress covered herself. This altered the tone of the scene to make the rape less explicit and more stylised. If there was any booing it was drowned out by roof-raising applause. Quite rightly. Antonio Pappano conducts a world-class cast and Damiano Michieletto’s staging –earthy, oddly cinematic- brings something moving to a story full of archetype and patriotic bravura.’

He adds: ‘The journalist I was seated next to on Thursday was gone by the interval — disappointed not to be able to fill her notebook with salacious bile.’

Mark’s full report is here.

william tell

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  • He doesn’t mention the Mathilde, the Arnold, the Tell, the chorus or the orchestra. Also, there are two intermissions and a pause, I gather.

  • Sounds like this opera is worthy of a trip to the local cinema on one of the coming Sundays (5th or 12th).

  • So now the faint-hearted have been warned, the production has been toned down and it’s business as usual again. That shocking Nipplegate is over and the demise of the occident has been prevented in due time – hip, hip, hooray!
    What a tempest in a teapot…! Damiano Michieletto’s productions are considered rather conservative by international standards, far away from Regietheater excesses omnipresent at opera houses and theatres in the German-speaking countries. (As for William Tell: now wasn’t it about time to dispense with the apple-shot, the Ranz des Vaches and all the other rancid ‘mal de Suisse’ clichés…?)
    The big question is: what does this odd uproar tell about British opera house premiere audiences and about a number of British opera critics (and, last but not least, about some of the commentators on this forum)? In which century do we live in? Are there really no other problems?
    Rather than being bizarrely outraged about a modernizing opera version (or about the appearance of a Rosenkavalier singer in Glyndebourne last year…!) shouldn’t they rather save their anger for real scandals such as the recently uncovered horrific cases of sexual abuse in British music colleges?

  • We were at the second night and Borkowski is correct

    But comment on one scene obscures a greater truth, namely that the production is lamentable, detracts from the musical excellence of the performances and is unworthy of the ROH

    The director seems to have followed some mistaken interpretation of the concept of Blut und Boden. There is plenty of gore when the male chorus gash themselves (why?) in one of the great ensemble scenes. And soil is ever present and much handled, to no great effect

    I suspect that, if the audience was moved to boo at the first night (the second was more restrained) it was as much the poor production quality overall that exasperated them

    This is the third disaster, after Idomeneo and Ballo, we have seen this season. What has gone wrong with the Holten regime, and should it be put out of it’s, and our, misery?

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