It was a relief that after four weeks I was able to sit through last night’s concert at Disney without making a nuisance of myself coughing.
But then Esa-Pekka’s homecoming was a disappointment. Magnus Lindberg’s Graffiti for big chorus and big orchestra had some nice moments (the oboe interlude) but was fatally under-powered. Using the texts of actual graffiti from Pompeii offered opportunities for humor, variety and pathos which Lindberg ignored. All the different voices were smothered in the same updated Respighi sauce.
L.A. Phil has done great semi-staged performances in the past (Tristan, Oedipus) so I was really looking forward to Bartók’s Bluebeard. Unfortunately they didn’t even try to dramatize the action (except for some tricky lighting) and we had to follow the symbolist fairytale plot in our heads.
The music was terrific but Anne Sofie von Otter and Willard White were often overwhelmed by the orchestra’s magnificent racket.
What a disturbing piece! And what actually happens to Judith in the end? Does Bluebeard kill her? Does she turn out to be a figment of his imagination? Whatever, it’s not a happy ending.
... Overheard at intermission:
A: Hey! What's this tune: Da-da-da DEE DEE da DEE? Is it Strauss, one of the Last Songs?
B: Yeah ...
A: It’ been driving me crazy; I’ve had it in my head all day. Da-da-da DEE DEE da DEE ....