What music I find most boring? Anything by Wagner and Haendel, really. However, I can imagine that the whole baroque machinery might take the drag off: Dolphin-drawn sun chariots, ocean waves, thunderstorms and lightnings, a herd of cherubs descending from heaven, sea monsters, floods. Also, singers were able to wildly vary the da capo sections, dresses were stupendous and spectacular.
During that time.
What do we hear and see today? Regietheaters, Wilsons and wanna-be’s and their lame pantomimes, unimaginative and lifeless shows. Singers without a hint of fantasy, or unable to master two rapid notes in sequence. This is why Haendel to me is but a snore (I suppose not only to me as the theatre was only half full).
Haendel was 22 when he composed the oratorio to this allegorically-charged text (by no less than cardinal Benedetto Pamphili) in 1707. The plot is quite simple: Beauty (Bellezza) realizes she will not remain beautiful forever but Pleasure (Piacere) assures her she will, so Beauty swears eternal fidelity to Pleasure. But Time and Disillusion (Tempo e Disinganno) start a moral and philosophical dispute to lure Beauty into their world of penitence rejecting Pleasure.
In Bern we see staged the ideas of enfant-terrible Calixto Bieito, who is shocking to some, crazy to others, weird to most. He is original, to say the least. Bieito keeps the allegorical character, but his very personal way: a fun fair represents life in which the characters interact, where Pleasure gives herself over to the pleasures of life (shopping, smoking, sapphic love, copulation with Beauty, etc), where Disillusion cuts herself to bleeding wounds, where pleasure gives teddy bears as presents to children on the carousel under a rain of colours in a vortex of joy etc etc.
Bieto has an interesting, never obscene, point of view. You don’t have to accept it. But if you are able to get into his world, you swallow the meager text much more easily. And without his staging this opera-evening would just be an expensive nap.
The singers, unfortunately, are not up to the baroque style. When they are not covered by the orchestra one can hear a very inadequate coloratura so that the da capo arias are like watching paint dry. A real drag and the evening passes only thanks to Bieito’s spirited and stimulating staging.
The orchestra articulates poorly and the director is probably not much more inspired by the music as I am: all sounds dull, dreary, lethargic and insipid.
Musikalische Leitung -Sébastien Rouland, Regie-Calixto Bieito, Bühne-Susanne Gschwender, Kostüme-Anna Eiermann, Licht-Reinhard Traub, Dramaturgie-Xavier Zuber, Bellezza-Hélène Le Corre, Piacere-Christina Daletska, Disinganno-Maria Prudenskaja, Tempo-Charles Workman