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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000516.txt from 2004/10

From: "Matthew Lloyd" <>
Subj: [kl] Opera productions that should be damned - and counting pit clarinettists to keep thread on topic.
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 17:10:06 -0400

I don't know whether anyone else has seen the Don Giovanni at the
English National Opera, but the first scene starts with a Renault being
driven on stage and ends with Don Giovanni taking (in any and all
senses) Donna Anna over the bonnet.

It got worse, as a production, although as we left at the interval I've
no idea how it ended.

Why do some opera designers have to try and be clever, and only prove
that they are not fit to work in an opera house? I have seen some odd
sets in my time, but the Don Giovanni was so bad that the really quite
good singing was spoiled. The translation (ENO insist on singing in
English) was the same sort of drugs sex and rock 'n' roll rubbish as the

They did have the regulation number of clarinets though - albeit that at
one point they walked out in the first act. Can't say I blamed them,
although as we were right in the middle of the front row we couldn't
escape until the interval.

Mark - if you get the chance go and see the Met Traviata - I saw it on
the opening night of the 2003/4 season with Fleming and thought it was
excellent. Not impressed with the house, but as a regular at Covent
Garden I am probably spoilt.


-----Original Message-----
From: Thiel, Mark []
Sent: 18 October 2004 16:02
Subject: [kl] the Worst Scenery Ever

We've all, I'm sure, attended shows where the stage sets have been
irrelevant to the action, intensely annoying and incredibly stupid.
However, the scenery actually being noisy is a new one on me, but that's
what I experienced Friday at a performance of Traviata. This was a
touring production of the Stanislavsky Opera company (a Bolshoi
offshoot) at University of Missouri St. Louis. The sets consisted of 11
boxes, each about a meter square and 5 meters high which were arranged
in various configurations for each scene. The boxes had transparent
walls, lights of varying colors, contained confetti or some sort of
scraps of paper, and had blowers if the base to agitate the confetti
somewhat like enormous snow-globes. The brightly lit paper blowing
around created so much motion on stage it was often difficult to locate
the singers on stage. The blower noise started before the curtain came
up and was audible throughout the entire opera except in the loudest
parts. There was practically no furniture. Vi had just a mattress on
the floor to plop herself on occasionally during her dying act. Singers
and orchestra were competent, though the trombone was a bit blattier
than even a trombone need be on a couple occasions. If the musicianship
ever rose to excellence, I was way too annoyed by the noisy sets to
notice it.

Now what, you may be asking, relevance does this rant have to clarinets?
Oh, yes, clarinets -- I remember. The orchestra was a few (6+3+3+3+1)
strings, 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet!, NO bassoon!, 3
horns, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, 1 harp (I didn't see it -- must have been
camouflaged or upstairs), and 2 keyboards! (1 with a triangle hanging
from it), no other percussion or tympani. Now, I am in principle in
favor of bass clarinets taking over the world but having no bassoons
seems rather odd.

So, questions: Anyone know if there's a bassoon shortage in Russia?
And: Can anyone top this as far as annoying scenery?

Mark Thiel

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