A friend sent me links to two recent productions: the Covent Garden/Barry Kosky Carmen catastrophe and the Aix-en-Provence Tosca travesty with Catherine Malfitano…

Here’s what I sent my friend by email and below it the links so that you can judge for yourselves:

Thank you for sending the opera package, which I would like to say I enjoyed but did not. Instead I sat in front of my computer screen thinking about a modified version of a great one-liner “After this, the deluge!”

Never a fan of Eurotrash opera I remain an unchanging traditionalist that loathes all the claptrap that passes for new ideas in the staging of opera. Watching the acting in both the Covent Garden Carmen and the Aix-en-Provence Tosca does nothing to dispel my conviction that most opera singers can’t act their way out of a paper bag. And this kind of directing does nothing to help the singing actor.

All the directorial idiocies in the world are no substitute for disciplined and intellectually grounded dramaturgical homework, and in both these cases we get a mishmash of superficial ideas and plain bad taste that betrays the intent of both composer and librettist.

Barry Kosky, the director of the Covent Garden Carmen reveals his trendy aesthetic when, in an interview part of the video he says (and I paraphrase) his Carmen uses a bit of Paris 1930’s, a bit of Weimar decadence, and so on…

Listening to and watching both these productions (partially I admit) reveals one recurring symptom of this kind of opera production: the singers are not all that good because the really good Carmens and Don Josés and Escamillos and Toscas and Cavaradossis and Scarpias in the business would not be caught dead singing in this kind of staging.

Tosca Complete Video

Rafael de Acha