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October 2013
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Are Opera Directors Trying Too Hard?

Unicorn Theatre production of Handel's "Semele"

Unicorn Theatre production of Handel's "Semele"

LIVE Preview: Haymarket Opera’s Pimpinone, Thursday at 1:00 PM

 
In the opera world, a 300-year-old score is sacred, while the staging and costumery are not. Directors are trying everything from beach attire to outer space for Baroque opera. It goes against larger trends in which a period piece, as in Downton Abbey, or Lincoln is so successful.

What’s less common, even unconventional, is to stage an opera paying close attention to the performance practices of the time in which it was written. That’s what Hollywood likes to do, whether it’s Barry Lyndon or Les Misérables. There are all sorts of strange mannerisms in opera performance that have been lost on us today. Wouldn’t you be curious to know what Telemann might have seen in one of his operas? Haymarket Opera director Ellen Hargis speaks about extending period practice beyond musical considerations and into the realm of theater.

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Giulio Cesare at the English National Opera, photo by Robert Workman

Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the English National Opera, photo by Robert Workman

The Haymarket Opera performs this Saturday and Sunday at the intimate Mayne Stage in Rogers Park. They will present a WFMT Impromptu on Thursday at 1:00 PM.

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