Magazine article Opera Canada

Grendel

Magazine article Opera Canada

Grendel

Article excerpt

Grendel, commissioned by Los Angeles Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival, came about cannily--with US$2.8-million thrown at Julie "The Lion King" Taymor to create a work with her partner, composer Elliot Goldenthal. The goal? Mega-success based on her clout in the world of commercial theatre, the swath she cuts and a wide public that will, presumably, rush the box office.

The result was predictable, with lots of spectacle, major puppetry, aerial feats and mythic postulations, the latter built on John Gardner's 1971 novel of the same name. If nothing else, you could have expected to leave Grendel humming the stagecraft.

Instead of momentous melodramas or compelling plot advances, Taymor gave us something along the lines of a pre-historic, inter-planetary paean to the doom of mankind, as seen through the eyes of a weary, vindictive outsider. It was like a pageant-cum-oratorio for the misbegotten. True, the literary sources offer some choice philosophic bones to chew on, but how do these, even with a phantasmagoria of nightmarish and funny visuals, make for engaging opera? …

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