The Met broadcast the opening performance online last night, but I'm waiting for the Saturday matinee to hear it for myself. Like most early Verdi, Attila is fairly obscure; I certainly don't own a recording and am fairly certain that I have heard it only in snatches. After having seen Ernani at the Lyric, however, I find myself at something of a loss to explain the early works' long residence in the broom closet of opera. If these works lack the full power and dramatic energy of Verdi's later masterpieces, they certainly stand as respectable late bel canto works. Of course, the standard repertory relegated much bel canto to truncated concert pieces for many years (Lammermoor, for instance, being whittled down to only the mad scene and some bare bookends), so perhaps the early Verdi was simply shuffled along.
Peter Gelb appears hell bent on securing his place as the Earl Warren of the operatic world. As the audience booed yet another production team off the stage, one wonders just how much re-education Mr. Gelb thinks we need. By George, those new opera audiences are out there somewhere and the Met is going to find them, and
The only solution to things like this is the pocketbook: stop buying tickets to this tripe. Once Mr. Gelb's revolution is complete, this will require not buying tickets to the Met at all. Stop writing them checks now and maybe, just maybe, it won't come to that. I won't be holding my breath.
* Granting that the designers set out to be unhistorical, permit me to complain about the costuming, entirely apart from the question of whether Italy is being invaded here by Huns or by kudzu. The fellow in the red miter is St. Leo the Great. But why is he wearing a miter in a non-liturgical setting? Why is he wearing white? Popes before St. Pius V wear red. And why is he carrying a pastoral staff made out of two-by-fours? If the costumers desire to be unhistorical and a-representational, so be it. Dress the pope and the Huns up as aliens, or Victorians, or deranged costume designers. But weird half-measures, especially ones so inexplicable and widespread as basic inability properly to represent clerical attire, are simply uncalled for.