I love opera. When I was younger I couldn't really handle the singing and thought it was all kind of ridiculous, but I've really grown into it. I've been lucky enough to see a handful of them the past few years and although there were obviously some I loved more than others, I've completely fallen in love with the genre. Not only does it contain some of the most beautiful music ever written, it is also a platform for astounding decors, costumes, acting and film. One of my favourite artists ever, Roland Topor created quite a few costumes and decors for opera, and so have many other great creative minds.
There are two operas that I would really like to focus on now though, The Nose by Dmitri Shostakovich as performed by the Metropolitan Opera in 2010, and A Dog's Heart by Alexander Raskatov as performed by De Nederlandse Opera in 2010. These operas are kind of similar in the sense that they are both based on famous short stories by famous Russian authors (Gogol and Boelgakov) and both are completely absurd, but wonderful.
Unfortunately I have not seen the Met's version of The Nose, but everyone who knows me knows that I am hugely obsessed with Shostakovich and his music. The Nose was performed 16 times in the Soviet Union before it was banned, and many thought the score was lost until thankfully some guys found it. It hasn't been performed much at all in the "western" world, but obviously the Met did so earlier this year. And I found a video of an interview with William Kentridge who did most of the art for it:
I think when you watch it you will understand why it is AMAZING. I am really bummed that I haven't been able to see this on stage, because even this small video makes me so excited. They seem to have blended the different art forms so well, it really is a spectacle.
Alexander Raskatov's A Dog's Heart was written specifically for the 2010 Holland Festival in (you guessed it) Holland. I was lucky enough to see it last friday and apart from the fact that the music is exhilirating and just... really my kind of thing, it was also such an amazing thing to watch. They created a sort of skeleton to represent the dog, which is simple but so effective. The sides of the stage were open so you could see all the extra's and the opera choir sitting but somehow this wasn't distracting at all. On stage they created a beautiful house for the doctor, but because of the many moving elements this could easily be transformed into something else entirely. The operation scenes were done so effectively (and were quite disgusting, I might add), but so was everything else, really. Here's a video of some of the people involved talking about it (including Simon McBurney the director, and Raskatov himself!!), and you can see the decor and dog as well. It is just as awesome as The Nose:
(Also, the opera choir had MEGAPHONES. This is the BEST IDEA EVER.)