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Glenn's Report for July & August 2014

September 1, 2014

Report for The Months of July & August 2014



Actually, this Summer-Arts-Report spans only Six-Weeks—from 9 July to 20 August, during which there were more Sight/Site-Seeings than Evenings-in-the-Opera…

My Arts-Archive-Colleague, Scott Bennett, had promised his Beloved-Valentina that he’d take her to Paris one day.

As I will be 86-Years-Old on Christmas-Eve, I feared that I’d never see Paris again…

I cannot struggle with checking Checked-Baggage anymore & Going through Airport-Security is an NSA-Nightmare, for My-Suspenders always seem to set-off all the Alarm-Systems.

I seem to be the Designated-Taliban, required to Unload-Everything from my Carry-On as the Baggage-Belt piles everything up at the End-of-the-Line, while I’m trying to get my Shoes back on.

How could a Very-Old-Man make a Bomb out of his Shoes when he cannot even get them Off & On?

Last Time at Heathrow—when the Buzzer went-off during the Full-Body-Scan—I had to Drop-My-Suspenders, which led to a Full-Pants-Drop.

The Young-Official who Patted-Me-Down almost Embraced-Me.

He must have Liked-That-a-Lot, for he did it again.

I told him I was Getting-an-Erection, so he released me.

Fortunately, Scott & Valentina were right behind me, so I had help in Re-Shoeing.

Some time ago, when I wanted to go to Machu-Pichu, but knew I couldn’t manage that Expedition alone—although I had previously Roamed-the-World-Solo, with Camera & Tape-Recorder—I despaired.

Scott said: "I’ll be Your-Sherpa!”

Since then, Scott has helped me on European-Festival-Reportages, as well as in Photographing all those Giant-Heads on Easter-Island.

So I said to Scott: "Take Valentina to Paris. But take me along…”

The Last-Time-I-Saw-Paris was Christmas-Season of the Year I Retired-from-Teaching at the CUNY-Grad-Center & Brooklyn-College: 1991.

At that time, I was again Overwhelmed by the Monumental-Architecture, Baron Haussman’s Broad-Boulevards, the Magnificent-Museums, & the Performing-Arts.

Paris is indeed the City-of-Light!

But, after that Outing, I did not return until Scott & Valentina made it possible for me.

In This-Life, my First-Experience of Paris was in 1956, when I was teaching Our-Troops in Eastern-France for the University-of-Maryland-Overseas.

In a Previous-Life—at least as I was told by a Self-Proclaimed-Clairvoyant way back in 1936—I had been Beheaded-in-the-French-Revolution.

I do not have Any-Memory of that Wrenching-Event, but the All-Seeing-Seer said that was why I couldn’t stand to wear a Necktie or even Button-My-Collar…

I did know that one of my Scots-Ancestors had gone to Paris to rescue his Sons who were there at a Select-School.

Through Half-Closed-Blinds, he witnessed the Doomed-Queen, Marie-Antoinette, in the Cart, being driven-off toward the Guillotine.

Somehow, he managed to return to Edinburgh with both his Sons & Marie-Antoinette’s Cat!

On one visit to my Scots-Kin, I was able to Pet a Kitty-Descendant. Or so they averred or alleged…

In Eastern-France, I was trapped on US-Airbases, teaching English-Comp & Public-Speaking Mondays/Wednesdays & Tuesdays/Thursdays.

Apparently, because the French had surrendered to Hitler, we now occupied all their Former-Airbases. Americans & Canadians in NATO, that is…

Etain, Chambley, Verdun, Nancy, Bar-le-Duc: Good for an Historic-Look-Around during the Week, but not on Weekends.

So I would drive my Blue-Beetle-VW to our HQ in Heidelberg, or Motor Onwardly-West to Paris.

Where I would savor Opera at Palais-Garnier & Moliére at the Comédie-Française.

I always stayed at the Hotel-Cité-Bergère, where some Striking-Talents of the nearby Folies-Bergère also bedded-down.

But when I tried-out my Eight-Semester-UC/Berkeley-French, I would be met with Scorn & Incredulity.

"Comment? Qu’es’que Vous avez dîtes?”

"Ah! Les fous Americains!”

Or Words-to-that-Effect…


From Heathrow, we took the speedy London-Train to Paddington-Station: much better than poking-along on the Piccadilly-Line, making Every-Stop along the way.

From Paddington, we Cabbed over to St.-Pancras-Station, where we boarded the Euro-Star for Paris.

In the Old-Days—to Save-Money—I’d take the sleepy Dover-Train & then the Channel-Boat across to Ostend in Belgium, thence by Rail to Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, or Munich…

The Super-Swift Euro-Star uses the Chunnel underneath the English-Channel—which used to take most of a day to cross by boat.

One Minute I was looking at English Water-Towers, but only a moment later, I saw French Water-Towers!

That’s how Swiftly we made the Underwater-Crossing!

Try getting anywhere in the United-States that Fast by Rail…

This Time in Paris, it seemed a Good-Idea to stay as close to the River-Seine as possible.

On-Line, we found the Relais-Hôtel Vieux-Paris—only Half-a-Block from the River, catty-corner from the famed Cathedral of Nôtre-Dame.

On entering, I was surprised to see a Photo of my former Brooklyn-College-Colleague, Allan Ginsburg.

There also were shots of William Burroughs, & Gregory Corso, as well as Allan & Peter Orlovsky being chummy.

This is the Beats-Hotel!

When Burroughs & Company were In-Residence, there was only One-Toilet per Floor!

Now, however, each Room has its Own-Loo, not to overlook the Heavy-Ceiling-Beams from the Building’s 14th-Century-Origins.

Instead of Wallpaper, each Chamber is hung with Richly-Patterned-Fabric of Baroque-Design.

The Comédie & the Palais-Garnier were on the opposing-side of the Seine, but the Splendid-Summer was too wonderful to spend sitting inside watching Plays & Ballets.

This meant that I missed seeing Attilio Maguilli at the Comédie-Italienne, who is eager for Petition-Signatures to guarantee the Future of his Historic-Theatre.

Nonetheless, I had my Heart set on seeing the Current-Production of Arianne Mnouchine’s Théâtre-du-Soleil at the Cartoucherie.

Shakespeare or Marlowe’s MACBETH [*****]

A French New-Look at the "Scottish-Play: The Audience Feasts Before Banquo’s Ghost Appears!

The French-Forces are no longer Manufacturing-Bullets or other kinds of Ammo in the Historic Cartoucherie, not far from the Chateau-de-Vincennes, once the Stronghold of various Military-Regiments.

Instead, various Performing-Arts-Projects have taken-over the Vast-Factory-Halls, notably Arianne Mnouchine’s Théâtre-du-Soleil.

Those lucky enough to get tickets for the Limited-Seating take the Metro to Vincennes, where they are met by Mini-Vans that take them to the Gates of the Cartoucherie.

We strolled about the Grounds, then were greeted at the Entrance by Arianne herself.

I reminded her that I’d last been at the Cartoucherie for Tambours sur le DigueDrums on the Dyke—which I later saw On-Tour.

A group of American-Theatre-Critics was on-hand for Tambours, following which Arianne hosted an Actor-Oriented-Discussion about the Genesis of the Innovative-Theatre-Projects of Théâtre-du-Soleil.

Actors, of course, are at the Center-of-The-Work. Audiences even get to watch them Making-Up & Putting-on-Their-Costumes!

Actors & Arianne also serve Audiences a Tasty-Dinner that they’ve cooked themselves! The Meal comes with the Theatre-Ticket.

For "The Scottish-Play,” we got acclimated by viewing an Immense Shakespeare-Mural at one end of the Dining-Hall-Foyer-Lobby, as well as Enlargements of Historic-Production-Scenes, Character-Portraits, & Vintage-Programs.

This is an In-Depth Shakespeare-Experience which unfortunately cannot Tour effectively…

We were seated in the Center of a Raked-Viewing-Space, looking across a narrow-gap at a spacious Thrust-Stage that was covered by a thick matting of Blasted-Heath, onto which the Victorious Macbeth strode to be greeted not just by Three-Witches, but an Entire-Coven.

This Heath was rolled-up & scooted-off in an Instant by the Actors.

Indeed, Entire-Settings seemed to appear Out-of-Nowhere & vanish just as swiftly.

But this was not a Macbeth trapped in Scots-History: It was thoroughly Modern-Military…

How about a Heavily-Armored-Tank for a Fortress?

Or a Television-Team to get Important-Statements for the Evening-News?

When a Long-Banquet-Table suddenly appeared, fully-set, I was astonished: It’s too early for the Banquet-Scene, isn’t it?

Yes. But this was only an Effect, so that Macduff—or was that Malcolm?—could stride the Length of the Table.

The Actual Banquet-Scene was Quite-Different. The Art-Deco-ish-Guests sat at Individual-Tables, some of which seemed to Have-a-Life-of-Their-Own…

As for the Spectacle of Birnham-Wood marching-off to Dunsinane, you couldn’t see the Forest for all the Trees!

After the appalling-efforts of Ethan Hawke—at Lincoln-Center recently—to impersonate Macbeth, it was an Astonishment to watch the Work of Serge Nicolai in this Demanding-Role.

No less riveting was the Lady Macbeth of Nirupama Nityanandan—who requires a Lot-of-Keystrokes…

For Arianne Mnouchine, it is not The-World that is Terrifying & Dark, but "Certain Beings Who Inhabit It.”

For her, Macbeth is Evil: "…One of the most Evil-Characters in all of Theatre.”

After our Shattering-Experience of Macbeth’s Doomed-Highland-Fling, I told Arianne that this Production absolutely had to come to Brooklyn & BAM.

She said they’d love to be again at BAM: From Your Mouth to Joe Melillo’s Ear, perhaps…

One memorable Paris-BAM-Transfer was so Labor-Intensive that it had to be staged in the Brooklyn-Armory, instead of in the Opera-House.

It was The Atrides, or The House of Atreus, composed of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, Aeschuylus’ Oresteia, as well as The Libation-Bearers & The Eumenides.

As I recall, it was some Eight-Hours-Long.

Macbeth is the Shortest-of-Shakespeare’s Tragedies…

Re-Vision of Parisian-Landmarks, Post-Vincennes

Having already photographed all the Major-Monuments in Paris for my Major-Art-&-Architecture-Archive over a Period stretching from 1956 to 1991—under the Trade-Mark of INFOTOGRAPHY™—I didn’t think it necessary to Re-Lens everything.

But it was important to see once again the Pantheon, inspired by that Ancient-Multi-God-Temple in Rome.

I wanted to show Scott & Valentina Foucault’s-Pendulum in-action:

The Minutes of the Twenty-Four-Hours are set as Standing-Markers around the Huge-Circle under the Pantheon-Dome, as the Pendulum swings, suspended far-above, knocking down each of the Minutes in its Turn.

But No! The Pendulum was gone, replaced by a Flood of Portrait-Photos, glued to the floor.

Fortunately, they haven’t Moved the Tombs of France’s Great & Famous, so I was able, once again, to photograph the Monument of Le Marechal De Montebello, the Napoleonic-Ancestor of Philippe De Montebello, former Director of the Met-Museum.

Everybody who was Anybody has His Body interred in the Crypt.

There is also a Crypt under Nôtre-Dame—Ancient Roman-Foundational-Ruins—for which there are no Waiting-Lines.

But the Long, Long Lines for Cathedral-Entrance were daunting indeed…

[At least we didn’t have to Pay £18, which they now require at Westminster-Abbey, where the Wait-Line is even Longer.

[Of course, If you have an Anglican-Prayer-Book, you can Pretend-to-Pray & have Immediate-Access under the Rose-Window.]

The Upper & Lower-Level Jewel-Like Stained-Glass-Windows of La Sainte-Chapelle make those of Nôtre-Dame look a bit Dowdy.

Other Major-Photo-Opps: Les-Jardins-de-Luxembourg, L’Arc-de-Triomphe, Les-Invalides, with the Tombeau of The-Emperor-Napoleon.

Too-Bad he was Already-Dead—Poisoned by his British-Jailers?—when French-Authorities caused all those Imperial-Marble-Seated-Images to be ringed-around His-Tomb down in the Basement!

He looks more like a Roman-God than a Roman-Emperor…

But, as with The-Arch-of-Triumph, it was always about La-Gloire-de-La-France, wasn’t it?

Nothing about Verdun, the Somme, or the Marne. Nothing about Hitler coming to Paris…

Then there was Our-Outing to Versailles, for I wanted Valentina to be able to stroll down the Gallery-of-Mirrors.

We took the Super-Speedy-Streamliner to Munich, avoiding more Baggage-&-Body-Searches at Airport-Charles-DeGaulle, also saying a Silent-Farewell to Paris & its Parisites.

In Munich, at the Circus-Krone & the National-Theater: Productions To Remember!

Munich is My-Favorite-City, not least because its Buses, Trams, S-Bahns, & U-Bahns are always There-for-You, unlike the MTA in Manhattan…

But, of all the Cities in Germany, it has long been the Culture-City—the Artists-City—notable for its Historic-Architecture, Outstanding-Museums, Modernist-Galleries, & Superb Theatre & Opera.

It has, in fact, Two-Opera-Ensembles: the Bayerische-Staatsoper & the Gärtnerplatz-Theater.

But there are no less than Four-Historic-Opera-Houses: the Baroque Cuvilliés-Theater, the Bayreuth-like Prinzregenten-Theater, the National-Theater, & of course, the Original Gärtnerplatz-Theater.

The Gärtnerplatz-Theater Away from Its Historic-Home:

Unfortunately, that Happy-Home of Opera, Operetta, Musicals, Ballet, & Modern-Dance has been undergoing Restorative-Repairs for several years now.

Last Season, the Gärtnerplatzers staged a Sexy & Instructive Cabaret in a decommissioned Cavalry-Riding-Hall.

This Season, they took over Munich’s Historic One-Ring-Circus, Circus Krone.

Of course, all Historic-European-Circuses have only One-Ring.

It was PT Barnum & the Ringling-Bros who decided that Three-Rings would be Better-Than-One.

When the Ringlings got to Five-Rings, that was really Pushing-the-Envelope…

When you’ve got a really Great-Show, why spread it out so Thin?

Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR [*****]

Super-Stardom "In-One”: An American Jesus-Christ Is Persecuted & Crucified in Munich!

Not only is Drew Sarich—the Gärtnerplatzer Jesus-Christ-Superstar—a Missouri-Born-American, but he & the Entire-Munich-Cast sing Webber & Rice’s Biblical-Revision in English!

Not since Tom O’Horgan first gave Jesus-Christ-Superstar a somewhat Concertized-Format, has there been a Production that takes this Quasi-Religious-Entertainment back to its Performance-Roots.

Munich’s Circus Krone—with the Audience Semi-Circled around the Central-Action—is an Ideal-Venue.

Unlike a Proscenium-Framed Broadway-Staging—with a Gap, Trench, or Abyss between the Spectators & the Biblical-Biggies—this Superstar almost makes Us a Part-of-the-Action.

Like that old Revivalist-Hymn: Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

Producing Superstar with Painted-Flats-&-Drops or even Three-Dimensional-Scenery works against the Imaginative-Ingenuity of Rice’s Lyrics & Webber’s Provocative-Score.

There is Minimal-Movement on this Centered-Stage, of course, but Deft-Deployment of Spotlights & Floods can create a Sense of Powerful-Forces-at-Play.

Before Drew Sarich became the Redeemer-of-Mankind, he was the Original-Rocky, when that recent Broadway-Musical premiered in Hamburg, before the Winter-Garden Main-Event.

At the Broadway-Premier of the Original-Superstar, some Born-Again-Christians were Outraged that Mary should sing about not knowing how to love Jesus.

Hey! This isn’t the Virgin-Mary!

Munich’s Mary, as passionately-played by Peti van der Velde, is clearly Not-His-Mother.

No, no! She is the Magdalene who was His-First-Disciple & possibly later His-Wife, if you believe Old-Legends…

Also Admirable were the Judas of Alex Melcher, the Pilate of Erwin Windegger, & the Herodes of Previn Moore—who got his Musical-Training in Cincinnati & Bloomington.

There is No Program-Credit for Costumes, but Michael Heldinger well-deserves a Thankful-Nod for his Stunning-Lighting-Effects.

Jeff Frohner conducted, sparking the Lively-Performance, deftly staged by Josef E. Köpplinger.


Real Clowns, Real Acrobats, Real Circus-Time! But Also a Bit of Grand-Hotel…

This Last-Gasp of Viennese-Operetta premiered in 1926, in Vienna at the famed Theater-an-der-Wien.

The Austro-Hungarian-Empire was almost a Decade in the Imperial-Past, but Not-Forgotten.

Hitler was Waiting-in-the-Wings, but there’s No-Sense of that Impending-Disaster in Die Zirkusprinzessin.

What The Circus-Princess must have looked like in the Proscenium-Stage-Frame of the Historic-Playhouse that once welcomed Beethoven’s Fidelio & Mozart’s Magic-Flute can only be imagined.

Certainly, there could have been no Actual-Circus in-play…

So, How Wonderful to have a Gaggle of Hilarious-Clowns racing round the Great-Ring of the Circus-Krone!

Each Clown has a Distinctive-Costume & Personality, but they all provide a kind of Greek-Chorus, reacting to the Events-on-Stage.

Yes! "We have No-Bananas,” but we do have Real-Circus-Acts!

We also have a Miss Mabel Gibson in the person of the lively Nadine Zeintel.

There’s also a Rittmeister, strongly sung & played by Simon Heinle.

But Who Is That Masked-Man?

He’s a Circus-Dare-Devil, sexily-impersonated by Daniel Prohaska.

Unfortunately, the Lovable-Old-Couple [Franz Wyzner & Gisela Ehrensperger] who own the Circus are hoping to Retire, but who or whom can they find as Replacements?

Aha! How about the Circus-Princess?


Alexandra Reinprecht is Fürstin Fedora Palinska, with the elegant Erwin Windegger as Prinz Sergius Wladimir.

There are some Requisite-Romantic-Problems to be Resolved, but All’s-Well-That-Ends-Well, especially when there are some Splendid-Solos, Duets, Trios, & Choruses, as well as Dance-Routines along the way—conducted by Jürgen Goriup.

Thanks to the Actual-Ring of the Circus-Krone, we not only get Circus-Acts, but also Ice-Skating.

But, because much of the Romantic-Action takes place in a Grand-Hotel, it is not so Easy to suggest this Change-of-Scene.

Nonetheless, Stage-Designer Rainer Sinell does this mainly with Scenic-Props.

The Clown-Costumes, as well as the Clothing of the Viennese-Swells, are by Marie-Luise Walek, who may also have devised the Distinctive-Clown-Make-Ups.

As with Superstar, Josef Ernst Köpplinger staged.

Had we been able to remain in Munich until the Fall-Season, we’d have surely seen the Gärtnerplatz production of Tschitti-Tschitti Bäng-Bäng in the Prinzregenten-Theater.

The Bavarian-State-Opera in Two-Homes:

Actually, the Bayerische-Staatsoper can lay-claim to Three-Historic-Theatres.

But the Baroque-Jewel-Box known as the Cuvilliés-Theater—after the Dwarf-Architect who designed it—has so few seats that it is Economically-Unfeasible to stage Operas there during Festival-Season.

Concerts & Solo-Evenings, instead…

The Prinzregenten-Theater is usually reserved for some Special-Stagings that will play to a More-Limited-Audience.

Richard Strauss’ ARIADNE AUF NAXOS [*****]

Freeing Ariadne from Naxos & from Eighteenth-Century-Vienna: A Modern-Masterstroke!

Usually, Strauss’ Aridadne auf Naxos is set in the Late-Eighteenth-Century in the Great-Viennese-Palace of a Very-Rich-Man.

Indeed, he is so Very-Rich that he has his own Court-Theatre in his Palais or Palast.

But he is also essentially an Uncultivated-Parvenu, with No-Understanding of Art or Artists.

For his Noble-Viennese-Guests, he has planned a Grand-Banquet, but it is to be preceded by a New-Opera he has commissioned, as well as a spritely Commedia, to be performed by a Splendid-Troupe of Italians, expert in Commedia-Improvisata.

At the Very-Last-Minute, he realizes that presenting both the Opera & the Commedia will delay the Joys-of-the-Banquet.

So he commands that the Opera & the Commedia must be performed together.

This almost Breaks-the-Heart of the Young-Composer who so needs this Elegant-Exposure of his as-yet Unrecognized-Genius.

How could this Dramatic-Situation be transported Across-the-Centuries from Imperial-Vienna?

When I first saw Robert Carsen’s staging of Ariadne the previous Summer, I really disliked it, mainly because it did not have that Period-Framing.

Who now even knows what Commedia was, let alone wish to engage an Existing-Ensemble—if he could find one—to perform in Modern-Vienna?

Although I have often admired Carsen’s Innovative-Productions, I was myself Stuck-in-the-Eighteenth-Century

To me, this Ariadne initially looked like another one of those Contemporary-German Opera-Outrages: Look-at-Me: I’m-the-Director!

What I had never realized in Elegant-Period-Productions was that—despite all that Goes-Wrong for the Young-Composer—both he & Zerbinetta, the Commedia-Star, have Soul-Wounds & Deep-Emotional-Needs that they can Heal-Together.

This is made Passionately-Clear in Carsen’s Ariadne, thanks to Daniela Sindram in the Breeches-Role of the Composer & Jane Archibald as Zerbinetta.

Thanks also to the Stage-Design of Peter Pabst & the subtle Stage-Lighting of Manfred Voss, Naxos is not longer the Barren-Island on which that Cad, Theseus, has abandoned her, sailing off to win Hippolyta, Queen-of-the-Amazons…

No, Indeed! Naxos now seems to be a Hall-of-Mirrors, in which the desperate & sorrowing Ariadne is Mirrored as she twists & turns in Emotional-Agony, nonetheless Very-Well-Sung by Ricarda Merbeth, who Offstage plays a Temperamental-Diva.

Ariadne is supposed to be Alone, All All Alone, but soon her Movements are also Mirrored by other Women similarly Clad-in-Black.

Ariadne is Abandoned, Isolated on an Island, but suddenly she is joined by a Jolly-Troupe of Italian-Comedians who want to Cheer-Her-Up!

Zerbinetta’s Male-Counterparts are not only Body-Builders & Acrobatic-Athletes: They also Drop-Their-Pants to Get-a-Laugh.

Richard Strauss would surely be as surprised as Ariadne…

Instead of a Palace-Lackey relaying the Commands of the Very-Rich-Man—who is Unseen throughout the Opera—we have a Fussy-Functionary in a Suit, very like a Lackey for David H. Koch, when he Dedicated His David H. Koch Fountains in front of the Met-Museum recently.

The Young-Composer & Zerbinetta have Found-Each-Other, but Abandoned-Ariadne: What-of-Her?

After all, when Theseus was trapped in the Maze-of-the-Minotaur, it was Ariadne who helped him escape…

Aha! Bacchus—in the pleasing-person of Robert Dean Smith—has come to Her-Rescue!

But—instead of Sailing-in-on-a-Ship—Bacchus is seen Far-Upstage in Silhouette, against a Blinding-White-Light, flanked by Two-Towering-Walls which gradually move apart.

This is a Thrilling-Image, first imagined long, long ago by the Visionary-Designer, Edward Gordon Craig!

Wolf Mozart’s LE NOZZE DI FIGARO [****]

One Simple Stage-Set Does Not Serve All Scenes Well: Garden-Night Under White-Sheets!

The Elegant-Environment of Munich’s Marriage of Figaro is a Bare-Chamber—with Translucent-Walls, so you can See-Shadows—outfitted with Sedate-Period-Chairs, rigidly-arranged against or near those Walls.

This works rather well for the First-Three-Acts of Le Nozze di Figaro—thanks to the Design-Inspiration of Jürgen Rose, one of the Longtime-Masters of Stage-Design in Munich.

But, as staged by Dieter Dorn, all the Chairs & Chaises must disappear for the Final-Act, which is customarily set in a Garden-at-Night, with Hedges-&-Pavilions for the Would-Be-Lovers & Jealous-Spies to dart about.

Dorn & Rose have No-Pavilions to offer. No-Hedges to hedge their Stage-Bets…

No, Indeed!

Just that Bare-Chamber with those Translucent-Walls.

So how do the Amorosos hide?

They pull White-Sheets over themselves.

Nonetheless, Gerald Finley [Almaviva], Veronique Gens [Contessa], Kate Lindsey [Cherubino], Erwin Schrott [Figaro], & Hanna Elizabeth Müller [Susanna] were splendid both in Voice & in Action.

Dan Ettinger conducted in the Spirit of Fun-&-Games suggested both by Mozart’s Marvelous-Music & Da Ponte’s Lively-Libretto.

Richard Strauss’ DER ROSENKAVALIER [*****]

Eighteenth-Century-Elegance-Embodied: Munich-Opera’s Parade-Stück Always a Winner!

Both Vienna & Salzburg have had Signature-Productions of Rosenkavalier in Warehouse-Storage Over-the-Years.

But Salzburg is only a Summer-Festival, so that Baroque-Elegance was not so often seen.

When Peter Sellers & Gérard Mortier began to ferociously Modernize, it disappeared entirely.

[Definitively-Dying this past Summer, Mortier has also disappeared entirely.]

So the Handsome-Viennese-Palais of the Newly-Rich, Newly-Ennobled Herr von Faninal which blessedly remains in the Repertory in Munich, is surely the most Silvery-Baroque of any Rosenkavalier Production in Europe.

This is a Masterwork of Stage & Costume-Designer Jürgen Rose, but it has been stylishly-employed by Stage-Director Otto Schenk.

It is usually the Visual-Climax of the Annual-Munich-Festival, ending in July.

Thanks to the Vocal-Talents of Soile Isokowski [Marschallin], Peter Rose [Ochs], Alice Coote [Octavian], Golda Schultz [Sophie], & Martin Gantner [Faninal], this also proved a Musical-Climax.

But there was, for me, something of a Visual-Anti-Climax in the Physiques of the Octavian & the Sophie: a bit Too-Well-Fed, perhaps?

Constantin Trinks conducted with an excellent sense of the Ebb & Flow of the Staged-Action.

Claudio Monteverdi’s L’ORFEO [*]

Punk-Rockers in a Van or Orpheus in the Underworld: Making Opera Relevant To Whom?

Some believe, or think, or say that Monteverdi was the First-Opera-Composer—even if he didn’t know that was what he was Creating.

Madrigal-Comedies or Madrigal-Suites were said to have evolved into Opera, but L’Orfeo was initially characterized as a Favola-in-Musica.

In einem Prolog und Fünf-Akten…

Rather than a Neo-Baroque or Neo-Classical Visual-Framework, Stage-Director David Bösch elected to ferociously Post-Modernize Monteverdi.

The Stage-Action seems largely centered on a Battered-Van—with Graffiti… These could be Left-Over-Hippies…

Yes, this Production is so Contemporarily-Relevant that it has Video!

Nonetheless, the widely-admired Ivor Bolton conducted in tune with the Proceedings, with Christian Gerharer as his Orfeo.

"Never-Look-Back” may have been Good-Advice for Orpheus, but it’s not always valid for Stage-Directors & Designers…

Off to Edinburgh & Its Famous International-Festival, Plus a Sad-Day in Glasgow:

Edinburgh has a very Special-Place in my Part-Scots-Heart, not only because of Ancestral-Connections, but also because of its Annual-Festival—founded years & years ago by Sir Rudolf Bing.

It’s called International, not only because All-Nations are welcome to offer their Best-Shows & Artists, but also because it attracts a Worldwide-Audience.

Innovative-Opera-Productions, Dazzling-Modern-Dance, & Challenging-Dramas vie for the Attention of Arts-Programmers from Many-Nations.

Pina Bausch & her Wuppertal-Ensemble were first seen outside Germany at the Edinburgh-Festival.

Bausch soon crossed the Atlantic to BAM in Brooklyn, as did Peter Brook, John Neumeier’s Hamburg-Ballet, & Jim Dale, with the Young-Vic’s Scapino

The Fascinating-Productions noted below should also come to BAM, but, if they didn’t send their Show-Scouts this Summer, I hope they’ll Click-on-This…

The James-Plays—

Co-Productions of the National-Theatre-of-Scotland & the National-Theatre-of Great-Britain:

For most Non-Scots this side of the Atlantic, knowledge of Historic-Scottish-Monarchs may well begin & end with Mary, Queen-of-Scots, who Lost-Her-Head in a Fatal-Royal-Gambit…

From a Roman-Catholic Point-of-View, she was the Legitimate-Heir to the Throne-of-England, for Elizabeth was an Anglican-Bastard.

When Good-Queen-Bess died—without either a Consort or a Regal-Child—the Next-in-Line was Mary’s Son, King James VI of Scotland.

He was crowned King James I of England, remaining James VI Up-North…

As for the Jameses that preceded him, their History is a Closed-Book, not only to most Americans, but also to many Brits.

Rona Munro’s Intriguing-Trilogy—The James-Plays —explores the Lives & Exploits of the First-Three of the James-Name. At least insofar as Biographical-Details can be exhumed. Or imagined…

Scotland’s bid for Independence was just rejected at the Ballot-Box, so it’s good that the Mistrusted-English will now be able to learn more about the Royal-Scots!

The James-Plays are Co-Productions of the National-Theatre-of-Scotland & The-National-Theatre Down-South. We witnessed their World-Premiere!


Scotland’s First-King-James Was First an English-Prisoner: A Formative-Experience…

Rather than Re-Cap all the Narrative-Turmoil of James’ Ascent-to-Power after Agincourt & Henry V, I’d prefer to recommend that those who are interested Order-a-Copy of Rona Monro’s The James Plays, published by NHB—Nick-Hern-Books in London.

In production, Scaffolding, Stairs, & Platforms make a variety of Historic-Locales possible.

Together with Sharply-Targeted-Lighting, they help the Epic-Event move-forward as James tries to establish some Form-of-Order among his Highland & Lowland-Lairds.

After Agonizing-Adventures & Desperate-Decisions, King James is finally murdered in the Dominican-Friary in Perth. With the Assent of his Uncle, the Earl of Atholl…

In Death, he is seen by some as a Cruel-Tyrant, justly removed.

But his Widow, Queen Joan, believes him a Martyr, as she pursues his Killers.

James McArdle is James I.

Laurie Samson stages.


It Is Not Easy Becoming King—When You Are Only Six-Years-Old, Advised by Avaricious-Lords.

It was called "The Black-Dinner.”

It was served to the Two-Teen-Aged Douglas-Heirs, hosted by a Ten-Year-Old King James II.

After Dessert & Coffee, they were taken Outside & Executed…

James had Six-Sisters, which proved Very-Useful in arranging Diplomatic-Marriages, consolidating Royal-Power & Influence.

This is a Drama Packed-with-Incident, worthy of Shakespeare & the Chronicle-Plays.

But a Synopsis might prove Digitally-Deadening, so do read Munro’s Texts!

Andrew Rothney is James II.

Laurie Samson stages.

Rona Munro’s JAMES III: THE TRUE MIRROR [*****]

A Renaissance-Court in Edinburgh? A Luxury-Loving King, Surrounded by Flatterers?

This could not Come-to-Good—even though James is remembered as a Patron-of-the-Arts.

He married Anne-of-Demark, who later departed for Stirling-Castle, leaving King James to face his Noble-Foes & Fight-Battles alone.

In his Last-Clash, he carried the Sword of King Robert-the-Bruce.

But he was Slain, leaving behind a Son, who, as James IV, has been regarded as the Greatest of the Stewart-Kings of Scotland.

Quite a Tumultuous-Plot, with Many-Plotters!

Jamie Sives is James III.

Laurie Samson stages.

The Three-Saga-Plays could be seen on Individual-Evenings, but Valentina, Scott, & I Made-a-Day-of-It.

The King-James-Trio should prove a Royal-Blockbuster at BAM.

Meanwhile, Ask Amazon if they have Rona Munro’s Trilogy in-stock.

Published by Nick Hern, who[m], once-upon-a-time, I knew & Talked-Theatre-With…

Chekhov-International-Theatre-Festival’s THE WAR [*****]

War May Well Be Hell, But It Can Also Become a Kind of Military-Choreography On-Stage!

During some Moments in the SounDrama-Studio’s Audio/Visual-Collage of Swirling-War-Scenes, I was sure I’d seen this Show before.

Turin? Thessaloniki?

Did it win the Premio of one of those European-Theatre-Festivals?

Or did I just see this Riveting-Spectacle in my Dreams?

Those French-Nuns with the Huge-White-Headgear?

Those Descending & Ascending Racks-of-Uniforms?

No, I believe I must have seen another one of Director Vladimir Pankov’s Visually-Metaphoric –Stagings at one of those Avant-Garde-Festivals.

I think he must have Recycled some of those Images, thanks to Choreographers Sergei Zemlyansky & Yekaterina Kislova, Set-&-Costume-Designer Maxim Obrezkov, Lighting-Designer Nikolai Surkov, & Sound-Designers Mikhail Fateev & Anton Feshin.

Homer’s Iliad is the Basic-Text-Inspiration: How Alpha-Males, through History, bring Death-&-Destruction, while seeking Honor-&-Glory.

Initially, a Group of Avant-Garde-Artistes are celebrating a Parisian-Noël on the Eve of The-Great-War.

No-One really believes those War-Clouds will unleash Toxic-Rain, but, if they do, possibly War will Sweep-Away Old-Worn-Out-Ideas

In Central-Focus is The-Great-War, but also George, a British-Painter, who goes off to War & dies in No-Man’s-Land.

But was George killed, or did he Commit-Suicide?

His Russian-Friend, Vladimir, is tortured by that Thought: Was George’s Death a Sacrifice?

This so troubles Vlad, eventually incapacitating him, that a Famous-Physician—is it Doctor Sigmund Freud?—recommends a kind of Psycho-Drama.

George’s Parents, Wife, & Friends assemble to Play a Pretend-War-Game, based on the Trojan-War, as Poeticized 2400-Hundred-Years-Ago by Homer…

This would be a Blockbuster for BAM!

Back-To-Back Theatre’s GANESH VERSUS THE THIRD REICH [*****]

Can the Elephant-God Prevail Against Genocide & Holocaust? Only Shiva Knows…

There is only One-Professional-Actor in this Ganesh-Fantasy.

He is David Woods, initially seen as the Hindu-God-Shiva, but later functioning as the Stage-Director for a Group of "Disabled” Performers who are rehearsing a Play about Adolf Hitler & the Holocaust.

All of the Cast—excepting Woods—have some form of Disability or Handicap, so they do not learn their Roles from Printed-Texts.

Instead, they improvise with each other until each New-Production has taken-shape.

They perform not only in their Native-Australia, as Back-to-Back-Theatre, but they also Tour-Widely, the Edinburgh-Festival being an especially Good-Showcase for their Work.

In addition to Woods, the other "Perfomers” are Mark Deans, Simon Laherty—who almost looks more like Himmler than Hitler, Scott Price, & Brian Tilley—who gets to wear the Big-Elephant-Head.

What has Ganesh to do with Hitler & the Nazis?

They have stolen his Swastika-Symbol, making it represent Evil, instead of Good & Good-Luck.

So he must travel to Germany to recover this Sacred-Sign…

It is impressive that Anyone born with Down’s-Syndrome can not only Cope-Effectively, if slowly, but also help create a Play-Text & do Repeat-Performances of His-Role.

During the "Rehearsals” of their Ganesh-Play, Cast-Members are variously encouraged by their Director with Fatuous-Exclamations of Approval that visually-contradict what the Audience has just seen on-stage.

This could easily be taken for a Satiric-Mockery of Ditzy-Directors working with Challenged-Performers, but then the Director turns on the Audience, telling his Troupe that the Spectators are "Not to be Trusted.”

Translucent-Panels are moved-about on an otherwise Bare-Stage.

One Scene is Visually-Memorable: Riders on a Train are seen in Silhouette

There are also "Devisors,” who not only "Sign” the Production, but also help the Cast with Props & Positioning.

If this Intriguing-Theatre-Collective can make it all the way to Scotland for the Edinburgh-Festival, they can certainly come to Brooklyn & BAM.

Or: How about Lincoln-Center…

At Sam Wanamaker’s Globe-Theatre:

Just inside Door-Three of the London-Globe is a Stone that’s inscribed GLENN LONEY.

Not far away are the Stones or Bricks of Sir Laurence Olivier & Vivienne Leigh…

When the Reconstructed-Globe officially-opened, Jack Kroll—Drama-Critic for Newsweek—was invited across the Atlantic to Report.

When Jack saw my Stone, he wanted to have one as well.

But he was told that All-the-Stones-Were-Taken!

Well, the Management has gotten-over that Limitation. Named-Stones now seem to Proliferate…

Inside, in the Globe-Museum, there’s a Copper-Signature-Wall-Panel. This memorializes a GLENN-LONEY-SIGNATURE.

Why, you may well ask, should the Name of Your-Roving-Arts-Reporter be on-view on the South-Bank-of-the-Thames?


But, when the admired American-Actor-Director Sam Wanamaker landed on one of those McCarthy-Era-Blacklists, he departed Hollywood for Liverpool.

There, he began Producing-Shakespeare for Liverpudlians.

When I was teaching Our-Troops—at Burtonwood-Airbase in the British-Midlands—I’d often drive-over in my VW-Blue-Beetle to see Sam’s Shakespeare.

Much later, in a London-Summer, I discovered Sam again: He was planning to Reconstruct Shakespeare’s Second-Globe-Theatre near its Original-Site in The-Clink.

So, every Summer after that, when I was in London, I’d come across the Thames—walking past the Defunct-Art-Deco-Power-Plant that is now the Tate-Modern—to see Sam in his Bear-Garden-Theatre & then report the Progress-of-the-Plan in US-Journals.

When London-Archeologists unearthed the Foundations of the Rose-Theatre—another of those Outside-The-City Elizabethan-Theatres—Sam took me inside the Barriers to photograph the Findings.

Later, when City-of-London-Museum Deep-Diggers found a Corner of the Foundations of Shakespeare’s Globe, they permitted me to photograph that as well.

Before it was Covered-Up, Sealed-in-Concrete. Never to be seen again?

A Landmarked-Building sits atop most of the Foundations, so they cannot be exposed.

Nonetheless, from the Polygonal-Wall-Angles we saw, it’s clear that the Globe was Not-Round nor Oval.

Sam Wanamaker had caught the Shakespeare-Bug way back in 1936, when he was able to work with Thomas Wood Stevens in his "Shakespeare-Globe” at the Texas-Centennial.

It was his Firm-Belief that we’d understand the Bard’s Dramas better if we could try staging them in His-Own-Playhouse. Or a Facsimile thereof…

So Sam was determined also to recreate the Original-Conditions-of-Production, not only the Theatre in which Groundlings may have Giggled at As You Like It or Gasped at Titus-Andronicus.

Afternoon-Performances, using Natural-Light, of course.

But Sam balked at the Idea of Boy-Actors playing Rosalind & Juliet. Or Older-Men impersonating Comical-Nurses & Maternal-Fuss-Budgets.

He feared that Cross-Dressing—if only On-Stage—would upset some Wealthy-Potential-Patrons.

Well, the Globe-Ensemble rapidly got-over Sam’s Strictures.

Not only because Sam didn’t live to see the Globe in-operation, but also because Natural-Light is not available for Night-Performances.

Also—especially under Mark Rylance’s Inspired-Tenure—Cross-Dressing works Wonders when Gifted-Actors are wearing the Skirts!

Last Season, Manhattan-Audiences had the opportunity to See-for-Themselves at the Belasco-Theatre, where Rylance dazzled in Elizabethan-Dress.

Coming East from our Hotel in the Strand, we walked from St. Paul’s Cathedral onto Sir Norman Foster’s Millennium-Bridge, across the Mighty-Thames, along the Tate-Modern, onward to Sam’s Globe.

Posters along the Walls advised us that Forthcoming-Productions would include: Pitcairn, by Richard Beane; Doctor Scrogg’s War, by Howard Brenton; Lope de Vega’s Punishment Without Revenge, & The Comedy-of-Errors, by You-Know-Who or Whom…

Non-Bardic-Dramas can now be performed inside, in the Sam-Wanamaker-Playhouse.

Bill Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe’s ANTONY & CLEOPATRA [****]

No Understudy Is Needed for the Asp, But Surely for Cleopatra?

As artfully-staged by Jonathan Munby, Ancient-Egypt needs no Painted-Flats nor Three-Dimensional-Sphinxes.

Bold-Banners, Shining-Swords, Spikey-Spears, Appropriate-Props, & Colorful-Costumes—plus Athletically-Enhanced Battles-&-Dances—are all that’s needed when Powerful-Players are deployed against the Globe’s Elizabethan-Façade.

Unfortunately, on the Day we Crossed-the-River, Cleopatra was Indisposed.

So we saw Another-Actress instead, Holding-Script, as she was Unsure-of-the-Lines.

I thought Understudies were supposed to be able to play without Prompts?

More daunting was the Sudden-News that Cleo’s First-Lady-in-Waiting, Charmian, was also being represented by a Script-Holding-Replacement…

Fortunately, Clive Wood’s Antony was totally In-Control of his Lines, if not of that Fabled Serpent-of-the-Nile.

Jolyon Coy was anything but Coy as the Power-Hungry Octavius Caesar.

James Hayes was the Unfortunate-Lepidus: Three-Great-Men cannot Rule the Roman-Empire as a Governmental-Team!

There was No-Program-Insert with the Names of the Substitute-Cleo & Charmian.

But it was soon Clear that they were Physically & Emotionally In-Their-Roles, despite the Scripts.

So the Power of Shakespeare’s Script was Nakedly-Exposed, as Octavius Plotted & Antony Dithered.

The Unfortunate-Octavia, Caesar’s Sister—whom he uses as a Bargaining-Chip to keep Antony-in-Place—was sensitively-played by Rosie Hilal.

Antony & Cleopatra is a kind of Romantic-Tragedy, unlike the Starkness of King Lear or the Barbarity of Macbeth.

But, for many Bardolotars, it is a Difficult-Drama: One that they either Do-Not-Understand or simply Do-Not-Like.

How could a Great-Military-Commander simply discard Fame-&-Power for the Love of an Egyptian-Minx, who was already the Mother of Julius Caesar’s Child?

In his Great-Speech describing Cleopatra, Enobarbus [Phil Daniels] explains Her-Charms-Poetically…

Raving about her Nile-Craft, he says: "The Poop was Beaten-Gold…”

That’s always Good-for-a-Laugh among the Ignorant or Intemperate.

Apparently, John Dryden didn’t think Shakespeare did this Historic/Tragic Love-Affair Poetic-Justice.

So he revisited Antony & Cleo in All For Love, or, The World Well Lost.

Why doesn’t the Globe—or The Royal-Shakespeare-Company—revive this Powerful-Poetry?

There was a Time—1948, to be exact—when I knew every Line of Antony & Cleopatra By-Heart.

I was doing the Stage-Lighting for a UC/Berkeley Production in Wheeler-Hall, for we didn’t then have a Proper-Theatre.

Sitting through 48-Rehearsals-&-Performances, I could even Prompt from the Dimmer-Board…

At Lord Olivier, Peter Hall, & Nicholas Hytner’s National-Theatre:

Actually, you could say that the National-Theatre is, in effect, Sir Denys Lasdun’s, as he designed it to Lord Olivier’s Specifications & was rewarded with a Knighthood, as a result.

Nonetheless, after the Highly-Successful-Launch of the National—after Sir Laurence Olivier & Dramaturg Kenneth Tynan moved it from Temporary-Premises at the Old-Vic—it passed into the Impressive-Stewardship of Sir Peter Hall, whose Actress-Daughter, Rebecca Hall, recently astonished Broadway-Audiences in Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal.

Now, under the Artistic-Direction of the often-ingenious Stage-Director Nicholas Hytner, it seems to be undergoing Epic-Construction-Improvements.

What has become of the Cockpit-Conformed Cottesloe-Theatre?

Not having been in London for Some-Seasons, I almost got-lost trying to find my way around the Concrete Pillars-&-Stairs & Various-Voids of the Olivier & the Lyttelton.

Richard Bean’s new play, Great-Britain, was Sold-Out.

Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk was set to open in September, with David Hare’s Behind-the-Beautiful-Forevers promised for November…

But it was a Real-Treat to see the Revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s Murderous-Farce.

Alan Ayckbourn’s A SMALL-FAMILY-BUSINESS [*****]

The Family That Slays Together Stays Together! Suburban-Homicide—Death in the Bathtub!

Some years ago, I saw the Premiere of A Small-Family-Business at the National, so it’s interesting to see it Revived, with Jack McCracken’s Happy-Home on a Revolving-Stage & All-Rooms-Exposed.

Nigel Lindsey is a Proper-Paterfamilias as Jack, but there’ Something-Not-Quite-Right with some Family-Members

A Member of an Italian-Mafia-Family seems to have Married-into-the-Family—or maybe all those Rivettis are just Sleeping-Over?

Shop-Lifting among the Stylish-Ladies is the Least-of-It…

A Uriah-Heapish Matthew Cottle plays Benedict Hough, a Private-Investigator.

He learns more than is Good-for-Him, especially as he will Accept-Blackmail, instead of going to The-Authorities.

That Spurt-of-Blood when he bashes his head, after the Ladies push him into the Bathtub, is a Small-Family-Shocker!

Adam Penford staged this Lively-Cast in the Two-Story-Interior of their Revolving-House, designed by Tim Hatley.

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