Ever since I arrived in Europe on Saturday morning I've been running around like a madman. But this proves to be a very worthwhile trip despite the weather conditions, which make travelling quite difficult. I was lucky enough to get to Paris before the snow started coming down, masses of snow! My train to London yesterday morning took six hours instead of two, but at least I'm not stuck somewhere like my Technical Director who couldn't land in London on Sunday morning and whose plane was sent to Dublin instead, from where he's trying to get home now.
On Saturday, I was lucky enough to see two productions by two of the most important directors in the history of theatre.
Ariane Mnouchkine's Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir is an unbelievably rich and multi-layered play of four hours. The year is 1914 in Paris, World War I is about to break out, the socialists in France led by Jean Jaurès try to prevent the country from going to war. In front of this backdrop a film team is about to turn a silent movie after an unfinished novel by Jules Verne, Les Naufragés, a diverse group of people, shipwrecked, trying to survive and founding a community on a small island at Cape Horn, but eventually failing when gold is found and human greed proves to be stronger than humanistic ideals. The film crew doesn't manage to keep the political events outside the studio, fiction and reality get inextricably intertwined and the evening ends with a grandiose apotheosis of humanity.
I couldn't think of a bigger contrast to Les Naufragés than Peter Brook's Une Flûte Enchantée, a very free adaptation of Mozart's The Magic Flute, for a group of six singers and two actors plus a pianist, extremely simple and reduced to the essential, but in its understated simplicity and clarity as powerful and moving as Mnouckine's big emotional tableaux.
Another big piece is Wagner's Tannhäuser which I saw yesterday at London's Royal Opera in Tim Albery's and Michael Levine's new production. Because of my delayed train from Paris I missed the first act, but the remaining two acts were more then worth seeing with a truly great cast including Johan Botha (Tannhäuser), Christian Gerhaher (Wolfram) and the truly great Semyon Bychkov in pit.
This morning, we finally reached the true reason for this trip to Europe, a design presentation for a new project that we will co-produce with the Royal Opera and La Scala. The director is a famous Canadian and our cast will include at least three more famous Canadians. I very much look forward to this happening in Toronto!
After a day full of meetings I've finally returned to my hotel and will spend my evening with Brahms' Piano Trios (the wonderful recording with the Trio Wanderer) and Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales.
Tomorrow morning I'm off to Brussels. Weather permitting.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (0) / permalink
I just arrived here for a short pre-Christmas trip to Europe, one day in Paris, two in London and one in Brussels with a busy schedule. Today, I have two shows to see, Ariane Mnouchkine's Les naufragés du fol éspoir at 2 p.m. and Peter Brook's Une flûte enchantée at 9 p.m. After a short night on the plane the biggest challenge will be to stay awake.
After five days on the road I am in the subway to Chicago's O'Hare Airport. It was a good trip with a lot of interesting meetings and great performances, full of inspiration and new references for my work at the COC. Yesterday's Ballo in maschera at Chicago Lyric Opera with Sondra Radvanovsky, Stephanie Blythe, Frank Lopardo and Mark Delevan was a memorable evening of great Verdi singing. The Met's powerful and theatrical new production of Don Carlo by Nicholas Hytner, with Ferruccio Furlanetto's towering King Phillip and Yannick Nézet-Séguin's elegant conducting, will continue to resonate with me. Between meetings and performances I even made it to the MOMA in New York and - just this morning - to the Museum for Contemporary Art and the Arts Institute in Chicago. Now I'm quite exhausted and look forward to a few days at home. My next trip isn't before December 17.
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