Asking Opera Chic to choose between David McVicar and Robert Carsen is as unfair as asking her to choose between Jeter and A-Rod (even if Alex's latest choice of companions is tipping way too heavily on the giant-piece-of-ho-bag side of the scale for OC's taste).
But OC was watching just the other day her dvd of Carsen's Traviata and she noticed how Carsen's decision to have money rain down on the stage so insistently, essentially negates the core of the opera -- without a proper understanding of the demi-monde, and what it means to the story, you just don't have Verdi's and Piave's story there.
Imagine our joy while reading McVicar say in an interview with The Times:
The whole point of the demi-monde is that it was a parallel night-time society, which wealthy respectable men could dip their toes into, once their wives were tucked up in bed. When you go to the altar you make sure your wife is a virgin, meanwhile where do you get your sexual experiences from? You get it from the demi-monde. What do you do while your wife is producing the heirs? You go to the demi-monde. And you don't tip your hat to these ladies if your wife is with you.”
McV gets it. That's also why, for example, it works to do a modern Così fan tutte, it really doesn't when you update Nozze, much more dependent on its era's social and cultural environment.
He also has unkind things to say -- from Glasgow -- to la Scala:
Now, it's not simply the rant of someone stuck in the provinces -- Scotland is lovely, still -- but a pretty informed snark from a director who's worked pretty much everywhere (except at la Scala). Not entirely correct because, for example, as last year's Chereau production of Tristan demonstrates, even after Muti's abrupt departure in early 2005 la Scala can do and still does first rate (when they're not on strike) on a worldwide scale. If they had better luck, too -- they had hired Terry Gilliam for a Andrea Chenier that just didn't happen after the director's pullout and many other mishaps widely reported at the time on Opera Chic. And that would have rocked this past season as hard as Tristan. But the main thrust of the argument makes sense: what a huge (1,000 staff) opera house with worldwide name recognition can do is in the end limited to the clarity of its artistic project.
Unlike other opera houses, the Music Director-less Scala doesn't have one (Daniel Barenboim is a glorified guest conductor with a shining tittle -- maestro scaligero -- that does not have influence on what happens most of the season when he isn't there. And yes, they cynically re-use glorious old stagings -- Zeffirelli's, Cavani's, Strehler's -- after giving them a light dusting, when they actually could do much better [especially given the scandalously high prices of the hard-to-find tickets -- about to be raised a cool 10%]) .
Anyway kudos to David for unlocking Violetta's mystery gives you like 100,000 G @ the Xbox360, and in bocca al lupo for the new Traviata, by0tch!