Met Opera rein­vents ’Marnie’ in the #MeToo era

Viet Nam News - - FRONT PAGE -

NEW YORK — Operas of­ten re­volve around flawed hero­ines who fall into tragic — even sor­did — love af­fairs. But rarely does one com­bine a Hitch­cock­ian edge, cos­tumes straight out of and a sto­ry­line that feels tai­lor­made for the #MeToo era.

— now mak­ing its US de­but at the Met in New York — tells the story of a glam­orous yet trou­bled young woman in late 1950s Eng­land who em­bez­zles money from her em­ploy­ers and moves on.

One theft too far leaves her prey to un­scrupu­lous men whose un­wanted ad­vances, crude even six decades ago, res­onate as Amer­ica stum­bles through a na­tion­wide reck­on­ing about sex­ual mis­con­duct.

“I wanted the au­di­ence to leave where they think, ‘I kind of like them and I kind of don’t like them’ all at the same time,” star Is­abel Leonard said in an in­ter­view about her ti­tle char­ac­ter and the men around her.

“So they’re left with some­thing to think about.”

The opera is Nico Muhly’s re­work­ing of a dark 1961 novel by Win­ston Gra­ham that was later adapted for the sil­ver screen by Al­fred Hitch­cock — whose star Tippi He­dren has re­vealed that the leg­endary di­rec­tor re­peat­edly ha­rassed her.

The for­mula and timely sub­ject mat­ter is cer­tainly a de­par­ture for the 135-year-old Met, but falls into its cur­rent strat­egy of try­ing to make the art form more ac­ces­si­ble to younger au­di­ences.

Af­ter see­ing the Hitch­cock film again a few years ago, di­rec­tor Michael Mayer pitched the idea to Met brass, who com­mis­sioned the work from Muhly, a young Amer­i­can com­poser who calls opera a “mag­i­cal id­iom.”

Marnie will be simul­cast in cin­e­mas world­wide this week­end as part of the Met’s Live in HD se­ries — an­other out­reach project aimed at draw­ing in new fans.

opens with flash­ing im­ages of the show’s icy main char­ac­ter in var­i­ous in­car­na­tions past and present. The opera un­folds in a world of gray of­fices, tran­sient city bars and psy­cho­log­i­cal ten­sion.

But Marnie and her madri­gal­like choir of Shad­ows — four other looka­likes who help ex­plain her in­ner tur­moil — pop off the stage in bright-col­ored dresses and coats rem­i­nis­cent of the Tech­ni­color world of

and the Hitch­cock film. Muhly built the piece as a se­ries of episodes oc­ca­sion­ally bro­ken up by asides in which Marnie ru­mi­nates on what just hap­pened and plots her next move.

Th­ese in­ter­ludes “serve as mo­men­tary win­dows into her train of thought,” Muhly wrote in a note about the pro­duc­tion, adding that her mu­sic was writ­ten to be “dis­jointed” to re­flect her shat­tered state of mind.

The au­di­ence is forced to con­front some un­pleas­ant truths about Marnie’s prospects vis-a-vis men — the char­ac­ter is ogled, groped and nearly raped. But her re­la­tion­ships with men are left am­bigu­ous.

To pre­pare for the part, Leonard, a mezzo-so­prano, said she read the Gra­ham book, but avoided the movie be­cause she didn’t want the im­ages to in­flu­ence her per­for­mance, and also be­cause she found the pre­view “sort of ex­ploita­tive.”

The opera’s creative team was in re­hearsal in Lon­don last fall when the Har­vey We­in­stein story broke, ush­er­ing in the #MeToo era, Mayer re­called. The pro­duc­tion has not been changed in light of those events, but the in­dig­ni­ties suf­fered by Marnie feel “ex­tra icky now be­cause we’re so hy­per-aware of the lines of be­hav­iour,” Mayer said.

“Th­ese men are treat­ing her in a wildly in­ap­pro­pri­ate way,” he said. “That would have been true 10 years ago and 40 and 50 years ago, but it just seems to have ex­tra res­o­nance at the mo­ment.” — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Viet Nam

© PressReader. All rights reserved.