venerdì, febbraio 16, 2007

The Morious Glotherland is linning, I have to spie down for awhile

Martin Amis's new novel, which I don't like, has the general and eternal shittiness of Russia as a central theme. Since I have so little experience of things Russian, Shostakovich's opera Lady MacBeth of Mtensk also seems to me to be about the eternal shittiness of Russia, which might be why Stalin banned it though it seemed to be critical more of a pre-Revolutionary bourgeois uselessness than anything to do with anything Stalin seemed likely to have liked.

I like Shostakovich awfully because of the way he can make something upsetting and unsettling tuneful and engaging, and this opera follows. I think most commentators say it's about boredom. And I think those commentators are all men who can't bring themselves to admit it's about intense female sexual frustration. I mean, she's been married for years and she was a virgin, for god's sake. Yeah - "boredom." Wankers. Anyways - I caught myself suspending disbelief several times, thanks to the music and excellent ensemble singing bringing the squalid, squalid plot into painful believability. Fucking squalid, man.

But wonderful staging, wonderful cast, wonderful music. A little nudity, too. Just girly nudity - there were sex scenes and the tenor didn't get his pants off. I couldn't suspend my disbelief then, which just made it funny since they were sort of going at it to the music, which I find with Shostakovich always has a faint breath of polka rhythm to it. And if there's anything funnier than dry humping to polka, I haven't thought of it. I also thought it was highly condescending that the orchestral interlude was dubbed "The Psychological Heart of the Opera" in the surtitles when the curtain came down; that deserved the wave of laughter it generated from the audience. The music spoke for itself, and while Toronto audiences may be a bit troggy they're not going to get up and start having loud conversations about adenoids over their ringing cellphones while the orchestra continues to play. Jeebus, give us some credit.

Anyways, may I ask what the fuck is up with Russia? Some of the world's most beautiful music, film, literature and architecture; apparently the best ice cream in the world - but at what fucking price, man? That place is fucked up. Hecatomb after hecatomb. A series of iron fists to the face of its neighbours and its own population - always this rampaging territorial insecurity, at the governmental level at least - and drunk, drunk, drunk. I don't think they lost the Cold War; I think they just had to call a time out for a few decades while the governing class slept it off.

11 commenti:

Sugarplum ha detto...

And people flee it to raise their families in a safer society and yet they are so proud of being Russian and act like they parted from a dear friend. Maybe the country has a rich soul that runs deeper than the violence, thievery, political ineptitude and corruption and people think that if they just wait it out things will get sorted out and it will live up to their memories of the place.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Yes, people love it and it does have such an overwhemingly rich culture . . .

Sugarplum ha detto...

All I remember other than the ballet and music is the vodka and caviar...

Actually, I found a lot of extremes in Russia when I was there in St. Petersburg. I found it beautiful that they accept that their weather was drab in the winter and instead of just bitching about it like we do here, they paint their houses and buildings calming and cheerful colours. The riches in the churches and museums were overwhelming but when we escaped the tourist routes we saw what must have been a four year old boy searching through a garbage can with a cigarette butt hanging out of his mouth. There is such a devide between the rich and the poor and yet the whole population subscribes to the same mythology about the country's greatness - it really has a lot in common with the United States and the "America" myth.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

I guess any empire has to sustain those sorts of beliefs or else you can't keep the population engaged in the idea that it's worthwhile to have an empire.

Sugarplum ha detto...

A unifying dream to make the day to day seem so much brighter.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Just in case the vodka/watery beer and lousy Mexican cannabis isn't enough!

Melbine ha detto...

"And if there's anything funnier than dry humping to polka, I haven't thought of it."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the funniest visual I've visualized all day! Awesome!

Dale ha detto...

Excellent and funny review. Can't wait to see it next Friday. Have you seen The Overcoat at Canadian Stage? It's set to Shostakovich's music as well and worth it. It was brilliant the first time it was here.

I have a love/hate with the Canadian Opera Company but I'm there faithfully just the same in the new beige opera house.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Happy to be of service, Mel!

Dale, this production and Faust were so much better production-wise than anything else I've seen with the COC, though I skipped most of the Ring Cycle. I think the casting has got better too.

I hadn't heard about The Overcoat but now that you've told me we're going tomorrow if we can - the F-word loves Shostakovich and he was pissed he couldn't make it to Lady MacB.

Dale ha detto...

And happy to be of service to you, er, Mistress. Enjoy The Overcoat!

I enjoyed Faust too.

Loving the bits of your blog I've been reading.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Thanks - yours too - several laughs out loud already!

As far as our new opera house goes, although the acoustics make my jaw drop I agree the beige IS provoking in how unprovoking it is, like a wood-panelled suburban rec room. But I have a weakness for the glass staircase and the way the auditorium looks like a science fiction movie.