Sunday, March 1, 2015

Die Fledermaus and Vancouver Opera

It’s quite possibly me.  I have often found myself at variance with the mainstream.  Die Fledermaus, the VSO opera playing now at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre was performed to perfection. The sets and costumes were outstanding.  The voices of the principal and secondary tenors and sopranos were truly incredible.  This was Straus. I ‘ve always loved Straus and danced endless Venetian Waltzes through my youth to this music that captures the heart as no other music can.
Yet here was this comic operetta that really was little more than a beer commercial except that it celebrated champagne, the "king of wines".  Not only that it portrayed philanderers and immorality all ‘forgiven’ because the ‘wine made me do it’.  And all about me the audience itself seemed to reek of wine, not something I’ve noticed at other operas.  Could it be Die Fleiderhaus brings out the drunks in droves.  Or was it the opera itself, with it’s alcoholic propaganda that had the audience running en mass to the wine bars in intermissions.
Further the premise of the story is a cruel, literally mean and downright psychopathic prank by the lead males apparent best friend.  All ends well as things do in comedy but really it was an awful shallow story which seems a theme in opera. This truly angelic music coupled by the most god awful writing.
Add to this the contemptible bar room humour which appealed to all the drunks in the audience it seemed, a kind of ‘in house’ joking about local Vancouver ‘stuff’ by a fellow who portrayed a drunk and smelt of urine.  This character and the play were by all means sexist as well.  Ugly local bawdy house stuff that went on interminably.  Yet there were those in the audience who loved it.  There are always those in the audience who love this  low brow entertainment. Shakespeare played to them but really, in an opera, ‘pissing oneself’ jokes.  Sad stuff.
Yet the symphony was superb, the singing outstanding, and the costumes and set incredible.  It reminded me of cigarette commercials and I couldn’t help but think that a hundred years from now there will be an opera written next year about the benefits of BC Bud and all the singers will be forgetting their lines and lying about on the couch eating chips and ice cream.  Maybe Hugh Lewis’ “I want a new drug’ will be played superbly by symphony.
I don’t know if I’m up for the German opera.  I was overwhelmed by the wonder and beauty of Bach Choir at Christmas.  I loved Whipping Man last night at the Pacific Theatre. I love BC Ballet and even tolerate the usually pseudo intellectual art critic explanations that go with ballet and contemporary art.   I loved Birdman but my very good friend didn’t. t just wished that I could have listened to Die Fliderhaus without the English translation. It was written before WWI and I suspect contributed to the subsequent  World Wars.  Not the music, not the singing, just the story and the Kardasian type shallowness and meanness.
I know, it was humour.  Just a little sick for me.  I probably would have liked it better if I was drunk, had smoked some BC Bud, maybe  done some crack too, and they’d thrown in a fart joke.  It was just missing something.  But the singing was still as good as it gets.
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