Today, Aida. Tomorrow, Madame Butterfly?

There’s a new staging of Aida being broadcast from Paris, and if reviews of it are any indication, it’s better heard than seen.


Guess which one is Aida?

An Italian critic said he hoped Paris Opera would put the production “in storage.” Another critic called it “opera madness.” “Simply outrageous,” said a viewer.

The singing is not the problem, but rather the staging that is meant to send messages not evident in Aida. According to the production’s Dutch director, Lotte de Beer, the untraditional set and action are supposed to reflect contemporary attitudes on colonialism, racism, and sexism. 

De Beer seems to recognize that burdensome new messages annexed to the opera’s themes of love, loyalty and betrayal might be lost on the audience. That perhaps explains why she offers up explanatory media interviews unveiling the hidden meanings of the now “problematic” Aida.

The acerbic dictum of Tom Wolfe, who attacked wordy promoters of modern art in his 1975 book The Painted Word, comes to mind: “Frankly these days, without a theory I can’t see the painting.”

Daniel Williams

Published by Daniel Williams

I am a former correspondent who, for more than 30 years, did time in China, Southeast Asia, Central America, Mexico, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and covered wars that went from episodic to non-stop. My book, "Forsaken," about Christian persecution in the Middle East came out January, 2016. NextWarNotes is a news and analysis blog designed to fill gaps, provide background and think about what’s next. The name of the site comes from a 1935 article by Ernest Hemingway in Esquire Magazine called “Notes on the Next War,” in which he predicted the coming conflagration in Europe, told why it would happen and warned Americans to stay out.

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