Herzog’s Bayreuth gesamtkunstwerk is fitfully seen from a camera with a good long lens in the first balcony, as Large divagates from this the work is struck dead.

If the footage from that camera could be found, you would have Lohengrin.

The acoustics are very well represented.


Madama Butterfly

After many years of decline, the Met began to conceive opera as it should be produced with this unforgettable staging.

The drama has sunk on opera stages to idiocy, occasionally rising to inanity.

Berg constructed his sprechstimme in a way that positively gives a correct performance as wittily staged. Auden & Kallman knew what hackneyed poses a given emotion would induce, and wrote to justify them. Pavarotti complained that he was not expected merely to rival Caruso but Olivier as well.

The Met found a method in this production. They built a useful set of Butterfly’s house with a carp pond and hedges. When the tenor sang his aria and turned dramatically, a hedge was there to explain his sudden stop—it made sense, and brought the set into the drama. It’s as simple as this, it made a dramatic evening. Her suicide impelled her out through the paper wall, nothing could surpass that once steps had been taken to keep the drama on the stage.

Recently the Met has added a stage director to its roster, in a fine modern version of Fidelio. If it’s possible to sing Madama Butterfly, it’s possible to stage it, and if that can be done, there can be a way to broadcast it on television without minimizing the experience of a great opera.