1984 - the sequel

A scene from Maazel's 1984; described by a leading reviewer as "a new opera of such wretchedness and lack of musical worth."

Unfortunately the 'insider' from Covent Garden who described Lorin Maazel's opera 1984 as 'crap' (see my post Big Brother is paying you) appears to have been pretty accurate.

The Guardian's reviewer Andrew Clements starts his review this morning with these words..."It is both shocking and outrageous that the Royal Opera, a company of supposed international standards and standing, should be putting on a new opera of such wretchedness and lack of musical worth." Open this link for the rest of Clements damning review. (Thank goodnesss that the Guardian had the teeth to expose this as a 'vanity project' in contrast to the fauning promotional puffs published elsewhere which never bothered to ask the simple question - what justification is there for Covent Garden to mount an opera by someone who has never composed an opera before, and who has absolutely no track record as a composer?)

It may have been a so-called 'vanity project' partly subsidised by the self styled maestromaazel.com, but it has also cost Covent Garden a cool £500,000. (Shame they didn't spend the money on a decent staging for their new, and heavily criticised, Ring Cycle , or on a music education project as advocated by that musician with teeth Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Or they could have staged an opera by Philip Glass, Hans Werner Henze or Kaija Saariaho - none of whom have had works mounted on the main Covent Garden stage).

As well as the financial scandal it looks as though this fiasco is going to rebound on Covent Garden 'poster boy' and Music Director Antonio Papanno. He has never hesitated to use the media for self promotion, he is now likely to learn the lesson that the media can also bite very hard indeed.

Update 5th May - fellow blogger JessicaDuchen argues in a post that most new operas are crap, so what is the Guardian making a fuss about? Jessica may be right about the merits (or lack thereof) of most new operas. But that is not the point. It is unfortunate, but fairly predictable, that 1984 proved to be a dud. Similarly it would have been unfortunate if Kaija Saariaho had got the commission and produced a lemon. The outrage is actually about someone who has never written an opera being allowed to buy a staging at Covent Garden. (Jessica seems to have her comments feature disabled, probably due to misuse by third parties, so I can't attach this comment to her post).

Correction - Simon T, in a useful comment, quite correctly points out my error in saying that no opera of Hans Werner Henze has been staged on the main Covent Garden stage. Boulevard Solitude is in their repertoire, and was last staged three years ago - see this link. Thanks Simon for posting that.

Nil points for maestromaazel.com (Cartoon linked from cartoonstock.com)
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Pliable said…
Simon, thx for that. Link duly added to my side bar. Also I've linked to your name in the correction. Unfortunately this post will be archived tomorrow as I am uploading a new post which will bump it off the front page. But you can still find it in the May 2005 archive

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