Ah...those Europeans are at it again. For anyone who thinks that classical singing is boring or staid, has obviously not seen opera in Europe. From dead animals strewn about the stage to graphic rape scenes, European opera houses have ripped the proverbial envelope wide open in an effort to prove their relevance. Perhaps in the case of the most recent production of Samson and Delilah at the Flander's Opera in Antwerp, the directors, Omri Nitzan and Amir Nizar Zuabi--Israeli and Palestinian respectively, couldn't find any dead animals, but given what they came up with, it might have been the smarter course.
In an area that is experiencing ongoing waves of violence between and against its Jewish and Muslim citizens in part because of the conflict in the Middle East, why these directors, who had to have known what they were doing, chose to play into that anger and hate through the controversial interpretation of this opera is beyond me. From "Israeli soldiers dancing orgiastically with their phallic rifles" to Samson reimagined as a suicide bomber, the directors' ham-fisted approach would be laughable if it what was at stake wasn't so soberingly serious. As Michael Kimmelman so vividly describes, this interpretation did very little to advance any sort of productive discussion.
Perhaps the opera lovers among us, myself included, should be thrilled that people believe that this art form truly can have such a transformative effect on people's outlook and politics. But in this instance, I think that we would all be better off to leave the passion to the performers and the political discussions to cooler heads.
1 year ago