[NOTE: This entry has been edited as of 10:49 AM Eastern on 21 Apr to reinstate in the opening graf a critical conditional clause mysteriously gone missing.]
In our long-running and continuing war against Eurotrash Regietheater, we've often remarked, both here and elsewhere, that at the root of the problem when the staging goes bad in those rare cases where the Regie is actually making an honest effort to reimagine the concept of the opera's creator rather than blatantly foisting his or her own pea-brained Konzept on an innocent public while hijacking the opera creator's music and text to his or her own purpose is that the Regie is taking his cues from the opera's text rather than its music, and that such a process is a lethal error on the Regie's part. It was therefore gratifying to read the following from stellar singer-actor and intelligent musician Jonas Kaufmann in a piece today for The New York Times by classical music critic, book author, and opera scholar Peter G. Davis:
Too many directors arrive at the opera house these days knowing little or nothing about music. Most come from the spoken theater, focus only on the text and don’t understand how to give the music its space [we would have said, "give the music its due"]. It may seem obvious to you and me, but a brilliant theater director does not automatically translate into a brilliant opera director. If I am a crack racecar driver, that doesn’t qualify me to be an ace pilot as well. I sometimes feel that directors devise all these elaborate concepts because they don’t trust the power of the music and are terrified of boring the audience. Opera is a truly magical art, but the magic originates primarily in the music that we singers [we would have added, "and the conductor and orchestra"] work so hard to communicate.Yes indeed. Peter Gelb, take note.