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L'amour du loin

An opera about a twelfth-century troubador, directed by someone from the Cirque du Soleil! I had to go.

This modern opera was written in the last ten years. It was her first and, as is sadly often the way of modern opera, none of the melodies were memorable. Still, it's a nicely multi-country confection, with Finnish composer, French libretto, translated into English, which premiered in Salzburg, and just wrapped up four performances in London. It's set in Aquitaine and Tripoli, and has an Italian director who's most famous for working for a Canadian company.

It was a pair of psychological studies of two people who fall into a long-distance relationship over the internet by means of love songs. He is troubador, named for a real historical one from Aquitaine, Jaufré Rudel, who falls in love with the Ideal Woman, once he is told she really exists. She is the Ideal Woman, titled nobility in Tripoli, seduced by the songs he writes. They are connected by a cipher, the Pilgrim, who seems set up to be part news-bringer, part wishy-washy gossip, part ship, and part angel. It ends in cliché, but I'm not sure any ending would have done the premise justice.

The staging seems to be done on the basis of the audience being easily bored. As a result, the 70 minutes that elapsed before intermission seemed far longer, because so much visually had happened. Acrobats, flowing cloths, actors vanishing into the stage. The three main characters each had two acrobat clones. Sometimes, it seemed as if the entire opera was being done by the puppeteers who introduced most scenes with a shadow play. I thought the Ideal Woman was a kind of Japanese female ghost, all long black hair and trailing robes, flopping through the air from above, until she appeared in person, much improved. The visuals were neat, but overdone, chaotic, and often too heavy-handed in their symbolism.

Still - an opera about the twelfth century! And a troubador! With occasional songs sung in Old French!



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 11th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Oh! I've want to hear this since I heard about it! Thanks for the review! I think there's a record with Dawn Upshaw ... maybe?
Jul. 11th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
I always wish I had more to say about the singing itself; it makes me feel part-blind to a central part of the performance, but until it ends extremes of exquisite or poor, I'm not sure what to say about it.
Jul. 11th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty much the same way. Anyway, if it didn't grab you, there was most likely nothing to be grabbed by. IMHO.
Jul. 11th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
"Until it ends"? How about "unless it achieves"? I'm not sure what I was trying to say there the first time.
Jul. 11th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
I knew what you meant ;)
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