Thanks to Jeff Dunn and Christine Labroche, this discussion is going to
great depths, but - as is my self-serving custom - I'd like to simplify
and dumb it down a bit.
(Before I do, a reminder to all Janacekites to Brian Freel's "Performance,"
at your humble servant's http://home.earthlink.net/~janos451/performances.htm.)
Here's something about "Vixen" that I haven't seen come up yet in the
discussion. The main thing that bothered me about the gigantic sets
in the SF Opera's musically very pleasing performance is that the
over-production deepened the misunderstanding/misrepresentation that
"Vixen" is an opera. I am quite certain that it is not.
Singing (a rather important component of the supposed genre...:) is
virtually minimal in the work, with long (fabulously beautiful) orchestral
introductions, bridges, intermezzi, preludes, postludes, etc. Much more
than opera, it is a musical work with occasional uses of voice, similar
to an oratorio or cantata.
Hence all the production attempts around the world and in the whole
history of "Vixen" to "do something" with all that music. Hence the
Nagano-BBC animation, hence terribly annoying productions such as the
one I saw recently at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, with little kids parading
all over the place during the non-vocal portions, performing some kind
of play that had nothing to do with the story. Please provide your own
additional supporting evidence.
Given the nature of the work, and the SF Opera's financial problems, I
think it would have been a much better idea to present "Vixen" with the
same cast, conductor and orchestra... in a concert version. Let the
slinging of the mud begin.
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