By now, you may have guessed that I didn't leave the theatre in a pleasant mood - as I have on the previous occasions of Met telecasts. The past offerings placed me in the audience at Lincoln Center and backstage during the intermissions for the interviews with the leading singers amid the commotion of stage crews arranging new sets. In Faust, the sci-fi elements were staged on a laddered five-tier grid in which surrealistic action was projected with computers, infrared cameras and shadowy motion-activated figures as the singers pressed forward (thankfully, with great voices) in what is largely a static text. (All three - Marcello Giordani, Susan Graham and John Relyea - confessed during the intermission interviews that as they faced the audience in their roles they had no idea what was going on behind them.) Nor did I.
The advance notices (warnings?) of the production in the New York Times said it offered an "unprecedented level of technological stagecraft to the house." Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager responsible for bringing a series of the Met productions to theaters everywhere, said the latest entry was a "kind of hallucination."
I'm sure I will be out of step with those scientific progressives who will change grand opera into something else. Science over art? Artful science? I'm ready for it with my DVDs of the traditional versions.
Non-traditionalists can stop reading here. A happier experience was in store at the Akron Symphony Saturday night. Mozart arrived on a cold flurried night with a nimble performance of the composer's "Concerto for Two Pianos" by two young collaborators, Orion Weiss and Anna Polonsky. Weiss, a Lyndhurst, Oh., native, has been enjoying a lot of positive attention from critics for his inspired playing. Likewise, Polonsky, who came to America in 1990 from Moscow, has a long list of accomplishments. Together they made a strong impression in the cheerful and melodic Mozart piece. OK, Mozart! I happen to be one of his big fans. If that is treason against the modernists, make the most of it.