lundi 5 septembre 2011

André Chénier in Geneva and the importance of Subtitles

I was yesterday at the dress rehearsal of André Chénier at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. While it is unfair to make a comment on singers who were marking their roles, J Fiore's conducting was easy and fluid and John Dew staged a lively first part full of ideas with great costumes (there were an integral part of the staging ...) , lightning, ... clear action without sacrificing ideas.

I also surprised myself realising that the work is stronger than I remembered. My last encounter with this work was in 1985 while I was studying in London. The three principals were Domingo, Tomowa-Sintow and Zancanaro ... so singing could not but have been exceptional. But there were no subtitles at this time and this means that appreciating the work had to be limited. Giordano's music is often there to accompany the action and strongly so but one can only appreciate it if one can follow it very tightly.

This should apply to works where words and action are complex. Would the appreciation by modern audiences of say by Janacek be that great if subtitles had not made ease of following librettos far easier ?

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