Friday was Julius Caesar at ENO. As I have said before, Handel did opera before the songs were used to move the plot along - instead, they are time out from the action for a character (duets are less common than solos) to say how they are feeling (not very happy, usually). So while it is achingly beautifully sung, there's more verbal interest in one Mozart aria than an entire Handel opera.
One solution is to provide some visual interest. More or less everyone likes ENO's best go at this, Xerxes - do see it if it is revived. Lots of people have not liked this one. Complaints have included the dancers, the 1920/30s dress, and the way one character's gender has been changed.
I loved it. I saw a more straightforward production by Opera North earlier this year: it was good, but I am not tempted to see it again. I will go when this one is revived. The dancing was fine. Unlike with the dire Midsummer Night's Dream, I had no problem with them singing about swords while waving revolvers - it also provides a 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' moment. Plus Handel was writing for castrati and there aren't many of those around now - typically some 'male' roles are sung by women, so...
It is not necessarily the best opera for someone who has never been, but do go: £25 got me in the middle of the stalls via the Tkts booth in Leicester Square.
Saturday was Don Giovanni at ENO. If you read this, you know that it is the greatest opera ever written. I saw the first run of this production two years ago (three times, blush). There were some things that I didn't like about it: they've all gone. One thing I did like (after tearing up a poster of the Don while singing about what a bastard he is, she gets another one out from under her chair) has also gone - it is on the wall later, but we don't see her put it there. I see some people have noticed changes to the lyrics: I didn't, but I did spend less time thinking about my favourite translation.
See it, see it, see it. £25 got me in the centre of the back of the stalls, which is an utter bargain - you'd pay seven times that at the Royal Opera House and be further away.
This afternoon was Hot Mikado at... the Landor. (Although ENO is bringing back its superb Mikado soon.) I saw a production in the West End some years ago and loved it and hated it at the same time - it's a jazzed up version of the original. If I say it showed how good the source was, I mean it as a compliment as well as a criticism.
This one is easier to place on the positive side of the scales, although there are a couple of dodgy moments (the singer who opens act two should not do solos and the one playing the Mikado forgot his words a couple of times). The size of the space means that there is a pretence that this is a radio studio recording it... until the middle of act one where that's forgotten.
Still, it's good stuff and £20 (£18 conc) gets you in danger of having your toes stepped on of you stretch your legs out.
This entry was originally posted at http://lovingboth.dreamwidth.org/480077.html, because despite having a permanent account, I have had enough of LJ's current owners trying to be evil. Please comment there using OpenID - have and if you have an LJ account, you can use it for your OpenID account. Or just join Dreamwidth! It only took a couple of minutes to copy all my entries here to there.