Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CIM: Opera Theater: Ariadne aud Naxos (Strauss)

A question for anyone involved in the production/design end of opera: Why do you insist on hanging surtitles at such unreasonable heights? (go ahead and post a comment or email me directly at l at

Particularly in the case of Cleveland Institute of Music's Kulas Hall where there is only one seating level with a relatively shallow pitch I can figure no reason -- other than the desire to inflict a literal pain in the neck -- why the tallest singer was roughly 6' yet the surtitles were displayed at about 24'. This extra 18' of empty space made it impossible to watch the singer's body language and follow the story simultaneously. The set was visually interesting.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm not particularly well qualified to judge opera based on my relative lack of exposure. The following observations are those of a lay person in the truest sense.

Generally, I thought the first act was uneven, particularly as far as the female singers were concerned. The second act was more even, but felt interminable as far as pacing was concerned. One singer in particular made what I felt was a weak entrance in the first act but, on sum, possibly delivered the most impressive individual performance. Given the fact that these are college students the individual performances were quite impressive.

The music was generally well played, but nothing really caught my ear aside from the overture and entr'acte...most of my attention was spent ping-ponging between the surtitles and action on stage.

Total running time, approximately 2:45 including intermission.


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