Yesterday afternoon, we attended the Portland Opera’s production of Candide, by Leonard Bernstein. The actual music is fairly good in some places and the conductor, Cal Stewart Kellogg, did a marvelous job of bringing Broadway verve to the opera orchestra, especially the overture. We particularly admired the incredible syncopation they achieved, a complex, energetic, stuttering rhythm almost an unknown in classical music.
However, there was a scene in it that deserves more consideration. So, instead of a review, we’ll just say that the mishmash book, confused plot and long running time did not dispose us favorably towards the opera. Nor did the cynicism, the puerile attempts at shock/schlock, the facile “challenges” to society’s institutions – money lending, religion, morality, make us any more cheerful.
Has regietheatre come to Portland? (See this article, for a slashing attack and definition.) Or read our own definition, heavily edited by us, from Wikipedia:
Directors psychologically direct singers to enact unreflected Regietheater clichés (often involving gratuitous shock elements). Opponents accuse such producers of shallowness, crudity, sensationalism, lack of real creativity, insensitivity, neglect of the role played by the music, and of pandering to the appetites of ephemeral journalism.”
This accurate criticism is usually aimed at old operas directed in new, modern ways, but Candide was written in 1957! And it already incorporated most of the elements listed above under the regietheatre definition. Finally, it was written by leftists and Communists, who always turn out boring tripe in every art form they attempt.
Then, this morning we read this post by David R. Kotok in The Big Picture:
“… if a government is owed by the Greek government and if the governmental body that provides the funds ceases to continue to provide them, then the Greek government cannot pay and it will default on the payments it owes to the other governments. This has become perfectly circular.
“Circularity is a financial condition we rarely see. It means the government that supplies the funds must keep supplying new funds in order to avoid having the recipient government default on the payments it owes to the supplying government.”
Candide has a big production number set in a casino in Venice, where The Old Lady pickpocket laments that she must give her take from gambling winners to her employer, the casino owner, who laments he must pay the cop, who laments… and so forth until they get to the guy at the end who has a gambling problem. The witty choreography has each characters grabbing money bags from the one behind him.
Yep. Circularity. Note: the concluding remarks in the video above are not at all in accord with the original intent of the operetta or with the Portland version, but we like them.
As our Mother always said in a different context, “It all comes back to you — double!”