Opera Chic keeps an open mind and will likely try anything once (except those adidas kangaroo kicks…that’s just gross), relying on her inextinguishable craving for adventure and innate curiosity. Which is why I accepted a ticket to the untouchable Lithuanian Director Eimuntas Nekrošius's staging of Goethe’s Faust. Put on by the Meno Fortas actors (a theater organization founded by the genius himself in 1998 that travels the world unveiling his productions), and performed in Milan's Piccolo Teatro di Milan over the past week for art students and assorted hipsters, this exhaustive, minimalist reading of the German work is a far cry from anything in the sane world.
Nekrošius isn't a stranger to opera direction, and has lent his vision a few years ago to the opera stage for Verdi's Macbeth in Italy and Moscow, and directed a 2005 Boris Godunov with the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (and with our favorite Ferruccio “I Got Teh Powah” Furlanetto), but next time I'd rather seek-out a bit of Verdi or Mussorgsky accompaniment to make his direction a bit more palatable and digestible.
(The theater Piccolo Teatro Strehler in Largo Greppi)
Let's just put it out there right away: OC left after the first intermission, a mere 45-minutes into the 4 hour adventure. In Latvian with Italian titles whizzing by above the stage, my patience just couldn't remain intact. Yeah, that. And then there was the shaded light bulb strung over the stage, vigorously pulled like a puppet from the four corners for about twenty minutes, while flashing the audience (and right into my eyes) as a seizure-inducing, spastic strobe light.
What I witnessed in the first 45-minutes of this direction of Goethe‘s Faustian legend was a dark, oppressive, confusing world filled with wild gesture, bizarre (but understandable) symbolism, and other assorted weird things. I "get" Nekrošius's theatrical language, but I just don't care for it -- it's too obscure for the sake of being existential.
Thank gawd I missed this, or my eyes would have been rolling so hard, they would have scraped-off my Dior eyeliner: "In the final scene, all the characters ramble in the darkness of obscurity, with stretched out hands, helpless and blind." omg man is all alone in this huge dark abyss of humanity. omg halp halp omg. Faust, the perpetual loner, wandering in solitude to soothe his cleaved soul. Moar black turtlenecks + clove cigarettes + hijacked copies of Dante's Inferno. get out get out NOW the LAMENESS is calling from *inside* the house!
A few impressions before I cut out?: The scenery included a bathtub wrapped in gold hanging upside-down from the stage; a black Ringu well where the townspeople came out of; a little monkey guy running around the stage clapping cymbals and catching skeet targets between them; a bicyclist with a pillow on his handlebars that would ride around the stage with his head resting on said paellow.
Nekrošius apparently has a cult following here in Italy, and is regarded as a master of modern stage directing, untouchable by the lauding critics, likes to kiss babies, helps old ladies cross the street, and saves kittens from burning buildings. Obviously, my ingrained American predispositions are still battling my impending European assimilation. In any event, when I got back to villa OC, I cracked the Domingo, Freni, Prêtre Paris Faust to wipe clean the slate of that oppressive doomsday acid trip that had been fausted upon me.
//heh. did you see what I did there?