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Sunday, December 11, 2016

A dreamy, shimmering opera production

I was certainly not attempting to gather material for this blog when I went to the Metropolitan Opera movie theater broadcast Saturday of "L'Amour de Loin," an opera written by the modern Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. But as it was easily the trippiest music production or concert I've ever seen, I thought some of you might be interested.

I've been into Saariaho's music for years; if the opera had been mounted with performers dressed on burlap sacks on a bare stage, I likely would have gone, just to have the rare chance to see it. But in fact, the staging was amazing. The background for the performers (three singers, with a chorus) was a line after line of lights. Most of the time, the lights were in blue and white (depicting the Mediterranean Sea), with the performers either in boats or on the end of cranes. Sometimes, most strikingly, they emerged from from the lights.

The lighting perfectly complemented Saariaho's shimmering music and the effect was often dreamlike, most overtly in a scene in which the troubadour sleeping in his boat dreams about his love (the very beautiful opera singer Susanna Phillips), and she emerges in a white dress, rising above the waves.

Incidentally, "L'Amour de Loin" is only the second time in its history the Met has mounted an opera by a female composer. Saariaho, 64, must be pleased to see the production.

Going to a movie theatre is a good way to experience Met operas; information here.  There will be an "encore" showing of the opera in movie theaters on Dec. 21.

And you can read the Alex Ross piece on Saariaho. 


fyreflye said...

Thanks for this. I've been aware of Saariaho for some time but have never heard from someone who's seen this legendary opera. Unfortunately, the DVD that was available on Amazon is long gone and the DVD at Presto Classical is in NTSC format. The DVD version was staged by Peter Sellars. There's rather expensive SACD available but I'd rather see it than just hear it.

fyreflye said...

My mistake: The DVD at Presto Classical is Region 0 and NTSC and therefore playable on US DVD players.

Teresa Halminton said...

It sounds really interesting. Thank you for sharing!