OC just took in the Milan premiere of Lorin Maazel’s 3 & 1/2 hour opera, 1984, at la Scala so you don’t have to. Actually, if you happened to have not been there, there are still p l e n t y of tickets left for the next six performances…discarded by a desperately provincial Milan audience with a proven track record of not being keen on contemporary opera (not to mention, it's in English omg teh horror). There are like thousands of operas out there, but I’m sure as hell not going to see a couple hundred because they happen to be written in the wrong language.
Earlier tonight, Maestro Maazel shot magic spider webs from his enchanted +8 orchestra-slaying baton and cold killed it. Every nuance of the orchestra was inextricably tied to the tip of his magic wand. It was almost as interesting watching the flick of his baton and sweep of his hands as watching the opera. A L M O S T. Maazel should get down from the podium right now and kiss the golden rose petals that director Robert Lepage walks on, the gold leaf toilet paper that he wipes himself with, and the gold-thread monogrammed towels that he dries his car with. The direction was slammin off the hook. The super-triplet trifecta of Carl Fillion’s scenery, Yasmina Giguere’s costumes, and Michel Beaulieu’s lights vividly pushed along Maazel’s patchwork (but thrilling) composition, bathing the production in perfect idiosyncrasy, chiaroscuro, motivation, and milieu.
The cast was, well, not the same one from the 2005 Royal Opera House, which was notably rounded-out by a bare-chested Simon Keenlyside. We had instead Julian Tovey as star Big Brother devotee Winston Smith, who gave everything he had and poured himself into the demanding role, but failed to draw much visceral empathy from yours truly. And yay for La Scala’s editors/checkers (there must be someone with that job description in the famously bloated, constantly cash-starved Scala personnel, 4 times larger than the Met's) for screwing-up the spelling of his name on their in-house playbill as “Julian Tovaj”. omg bootleg as heyll that’s what.
Full review + much moar tomorrow, included all the yummy things Lorin Maazel said to the Italian press in the last week to prepare the audience for his Orwellian thunder. While you're waiting for OC's recap, Rai3 transmitted it live, so you can go look for it on the intertubes if you're so inclined. Cause OC was there and you weren't.