Heinrich August Marschner's "Der Vampyr" opened the season of Teatro Comunale in Bologna last night: Roberto Abbado conducted -- quite splendidly, from what OC could judge listening to the broadcast in the cozy splendor of her home while sipping some chilled Henriot -- and Pier Luigi Pizzi directed the opera that for the first time in 180 years has been staged in Italy.
Taking part in the scary, hawt bloodsucking action a cast made up of Harry Peeters, Carmela Remigio, John Osborn and Detlef Roth that was massively applauded at the end by the opera gourmet down in Bologna -- a demonstration that a financial crisis doesn't mean one needs to dumb down the program to the usual big box office draws like Puccini. When you have an intelligent conductor and a talented cast, and you trust the audience, the success will come.
We're also happy to report that unlike their irresponsible colleagues at la Scala, Bologna unions -- worried as everybody is about imminent government cuts to arts budgets -- waited until the end of the show to mount two big billboards on stage, and, as the cast and conductor received their deserved share of applause, the two big billboards exposed on stage by the workers read "WE ARE NOT VAMPIRES". A classy way to make their voices heard , respectful of opera and of their audience. A lesson, really, for all of us who witness la Scala unions sterile, counterproductive temper tantrums.