Monodramas @ NYC Opera, 4/8/11

by danielgoode

April 9, 2011 11:03:36 AM EDT

Zorn, Schoenberg, Feldman (interesting that all three are Jewish). I hope the NYC Opera prospers in its Lincoln Center home, refurbished courtesy of David H. Koch, billionaire buster of Wisconsin unions. In every way, the “David H. Koch Theater” is just as ugly as its former, named New York State Theater, but he gave it an extra aisle in the orchestra. These are not really operas, but female vocal one-act arias. Big trouble in directorial concept: gratuitous staging and choreography—the wheels grinding away with shiny descending cubes, ascending bodies, comic-book balloon flats for elaborate projections (Zorn opera), but without binding force on the music. Zorn’s La Machine De L’Etre, an hommage to Artaud, sounded like the early non-triadic score of Schoenberg’s. Amazing how in 1909 during Mahler’s last symphonic composing, Schoenberg had a whole vocabulary of orchestrated, free and easy colorful non-tonalism. Feldman’s 1976, minimalist Neither, setting a Beckett text, sung on high notes by Cyndia Sieden was also over-staged, tainting the music with its pretentious stage-craft. Funny how Feldman ended up being more of a committed minimalist than those famous brand-makers we all know so well.

Standing on the subway platform, I heard a sound reminiscent of the high, heterophonic, bell-like string tones towards the end of the final piece: the Feldman. What was it? Oh, yes, the sound of each individual subway rider as the turnstile acknowledges their card swipe. Doppler effects bringing microtonal resonances to our ears.

Thumbnail review.

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