Friday, April 3, 2009
When not editing, I occasionally appear as a supernumerary for the Washington National Opera. "Peter Grimes" by Benjamin Britten, is currently at the Kennedy Center. I was hoping to be in the production, but they needed only one adult super, and the role was for an older man, so I obviously wasn't picked. (Veteran supernumerary Dr. Joseph Marshall, a.k.a. "older man," is extraordinary onstage playing, what else, a doctor. Bravo!)
I had the pleasure of attending the performance on Wednesday. (As did Rep. Barney Frank, an opera aficionado, apparently.) I love Britten's "Billy Budd" and was hoping to love "Peter Grimes" just as much. It was a terrific production, but the slow first act dragged on too long, though the second and third acts were much better. I can't recommend it for the uninitiated opera-goer, but for hard-core opera buffs, you won't be disappointed.
Although "Peter Grimes," like "Billy Budd," is sung in English, there were supertitles that made following the story easier. Since the opera was originally written in English, the supertitles were spot on--none of the typical misspellings or bad syntax that you find in translated lyrics. (With the prices they charge for tickets, you'd think they could hire a copy editor for all supertitles.)
I was surprised, however, to find a typo in the Playbill synopsis: "a woman to care fore him." As with many non-profit organizations, the WNO is facing severe budget constraints and even had to cancel its Wagner "Ring" cycle planned for next season. (They've also pimped out Plácido Domingo to do a special concert on May 1, cheesily called "From My Latin Soul," to raise some much-needed cash.) Too bad the freelance copy editor budget seemingly has taken a hit as well.
Photo of Christopher Ventris in "Peter Grimes" courtesy WNO