Magazine article Opera Canada

Seattle Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

Seattle Opera

Article excerpt

For Seattle Opera, 2003 was a huge year: the company's 40th anniversary and Speight Jenkins' 20th as general director, for starters. On top of that, Seattle's new opera house, the US$127-million Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, opened on August 2 with Parsifal, the last of Wagner's major operas to receive its Seattle incarnation. Even if Parsifal itself is hardly celebratory. McCaw Hall's magnificent acoustics and clear sightlines enabled the production's vocal and dramatic values to be savored fully.

Francois Rochaix's fluid, poetic stage direction imbued the characters' relationships with naturalness and inevitability. Far less prepossessing were Robert Israel's cliched, raked trapezoid set mad predominantly drab, burlap costumes. Wagner's implicitly Christian symbolism was eschewed, but not replaced with and thing as visually potent. Even the digitally projected backdrops--mountains, landscapes, wilderness--left the enormous potential of the medium largely untapped. In contrast, Israel's version of Klingsor's castle was truly striking, and its plunging disappearance through the stage's new state-of-the-art trap door was pure drama. …

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