Monday, February 28, 2011

Iphigénie en Tauride

Despite our colds, Brendan and I went to Movies@Dundrum last night for the Met HD performance of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, with Placido Domingo (who's just turned 70!) and Susan Graham. Both singers had colds too, but still managed to give their best.

Brendan's cold certainly was not improved by the night out, but I'm on the mend, despite a rattling cough that's slow to clear.

But colds aside, it was a perfect night - Gluck's music is gorgeous, even toe-tappingly so at times. The production was rich and dark. The set was divided into two areas: the sacrifice chamber and the prisoners' cell, both dimly lit to suit the mood. The chorus's costumes were rich red dresses for the Priestess's ladies-in-waiting and bright blue for the soldiers. There was dancing, some sort of hand-miming, and even a couple of scenes with the Goddess Diana lifted down from above (Not quite Spiderman, but more of a nod at the 18th Century stagings, just like I imagine them anyway)

At the interval, the artists were interviewed, and we even got to see Placido Domingo in his dressing room at the interval (Nothing fancy - a couch, a piano, a cup of tea and a packet of Halls), and we saw the special effects make-up applied on Paul Groves (who plays Pylades) - scars and bruises and blood dripping down the face.

The story is straight out of Greek Mythology: Iphigénie was going to be sacrificed by her father, Agamemnon, but was spared by the goddess Diana, and sent to an island far away to serve as a priestess of Diana - her job being to kill all strangers to the island, as the King was completely paranoid and keen to appease the gods. In the meantime, Clytemnestre killed her husband Agamemnon, and was killed by her son, Oreste, Iphigénie's brother. Fifteen years later, Oreste is shipwrecked on the island, along with his one friend Pylades. That's at this point that the opera starts.

It's the performances that carried the night, though, both in terms of singing and acting. Within minutes, I was taken in by Susan Graham's voice and deeply sad presence, and for the next two hours, I was in a different world.

PS: I got some of the pictures from this review.

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