Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

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As stage director, Martin Kusej has taken orgasm and murder as the linchpins of his production. There is no concern here for what consenting adults might get up to in private. Most of the action takes place in a rectangular glass house that can only incite the cast to throw as many stones at each other as they can grab. It is the frustration of Katerina Macbeth that sparks the action. If her brute of a father-in-law and sadly inadequate husband have to be murdered in the cause of sexual gratification, so be it. The tragedy is that her factory pick-up is as worthless as the men she has despatched with the aid of rat-poison (a very Russian ploy, it would seem) and the use as hammer of a candlestick.

Vladimir Vaneev as Boris Timofeyevich Ismailov. DVD screenshot © 2006 De Nederlandse Opera/Opus Arte
Vladimir Vaneev as Boris Timofeyevich Ismailov. DVD screenshot © 2006 De Nederlandse Opera/Opus Arte

The father-in-law Boris of Vladimir Vaneev is so loathsome I'm amazed he's survived this far. His passion for mushrooms proves his undoing and his folly in giving Eva-Maria Westbroek's Katerina some powder to deal with rats. It takes her a brief moment to proclaim that of course he's the rat [watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 5, 9:25-10:30]. His fate is now sealed. It is ultimately a relief all round to be shot of him, even though he turns momentarily into a bothersome ghost. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Mariss Jansons launches at once on to an orchestral commentary, so many of which are musically both ironic and destructive. Murder is in the air, and orgasm is not long postponed.

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Copyright © 10 February 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK

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