I went last night to see the Canadian Opera Company's production of Berg's opera Wozzeck. This was territory I hadn't trod before - an opera clocking in at only 90 minutes. What of the marathons I've become used to scratching my cultural itch with? You know, the 5 1/2 hour Wagner epics?
With great power comes great responsibility and with a very atonal score comes a very difficult evening out. From the announcement before the show that bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka was battling laryngitis but would still perform, we had confirmation we were going to be traveling a fair distance. With no intermission due to the brevity of the piece, we, Deborah and I, submitted to our fate as prisoners of the arts. Luckily, we had sated ourselves pre-show at Springrolls which was tasty.
The set and costume designer Michael Levine did a bang up job. I think some of the office window sets may have been left over from the terrible job he did on Gotterdamerung's sets but they worked here. The only other nice thing I can say is that the image of the solitary child playing at the end was very arresting. Could we not have just started with that, made a brief announcement that although 15 near incomprehensible scenes had been planned, it just made more sense to say that it all ends badly?
The libretto made no more sense even following along with the Surtitles. This lovely and necessary innovation which is now used worldwide was created and promoted by former director of the opera company Lofti Mansouri who directed last night's enchantment. It was prescient of him to know I'd be coming and wanting to read along but just rude of him to subject me to this.
Question: How can 90 minutes seem longer than 5 1/2 hours? Answer: Guess.