The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on October 19, 1975 · 114
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 114

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 19, 1975
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( A10 Op BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE tfWSfcrt 197, WW5" era director Walter Felsenstein: The legend was also a realitv Last week, in an East Berlin hospital, Walter Felsenstein died of cancer at the age of 74." Inevitably his work died with him, for the art of the stage director is one that vanishes with the fall of the curtain: now what he did belongs to legend. But for that matter, Fel-senstein's work, for Americans, has always belonged to legend in the most basic sense: since he never worked here, few Americans ever actually saw any of his- productions. And when they did, there was the additive, glamorizing trench-coat excitement of the necessary trip into East Berlin. RICHARD DYER For one who never went there, few means of fixing and measuring Felsen-stein's achievement offer themselves. One doesn't want to linger over all the press-copy stories, how the choristers in "Otello" (he always called them the "soloists of the chorus") knew exactly the knottage of the gale that was blowing them about and at just what angle to tilt, how Felsenstein would cancel a performance of "La Traviata" because the Annina he had rehearsed had fallen ill and he felt that the substitution of another artist in that ex tremely small role would throw the entire production askew. Or there is the distorting-mirror of Sarah Caldwell's work. Ms. Caldwell is Fel-senstein's best-known American disciple, and she has written a very touching statement about his life and death. Some of the Felsenstein singers have appeared with her company here, and traces of Felsenstein's influence are there to notice in several Caldwell productions, generally the least convincing ones, like the "Bartered Bride" of a couple of years ago. Back in 1965 Ms. Caldwell advertised her production of Offenbach's "The Tales of "'9 i I III 1 111 in III II I! ii Hoffman" as the "Felsenstein version" though it featured a tenor brought in only a few days before the performance. While the German and the American director are alike in their singleminded devotion to opera, and in their fervent belief that it is still an art to take seriously, it is difficult to think of two theatrical temperaments more drastically different the meticulous Felsenstein, the slap-dash razzle-dazzle Caldwell, making the most of little. , ., There survive some horrid, dark kinescopes of some of Felsenstein's tv work, and there was a the- ; atrical film he made of Beethoven's "Fidelio" but that was not really based on a stage production. The film had an engagement at the Harvard Square Theater a dozen years ago, and some Images in it remain vivid in the minds of those who saw it the unleashing of the destructive forces of nature, the howling winds and the toppling trees and flooding waters during Pizzaro's aria, as WIS- 'V r-jS-v.. MJ EXPERIENCE THEIR NEW 1975-76 MUSICAL SHOW 150 INTERNATIONAL PERFORMERS 2 hours of original music rock, jazz, country, folk ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY Friday, October 24 8 p.m. Hynes Civic Auditorium, Prudential Center Tickets: $3.50 and $6.50 Ticket Outlets: Filenes Box Office (Downtown) and Boston University Ticket Office George Sherman Union Ticket orders: all 40 branches of the First National Bank of Boston "Up With People - the eternal hit . . ." The Boston Globe LJazz Tonight TEDDY WILSON with ALAN DAWSON A MARY KARLE Mon. to Sun., Oct. 20-26 ROY HAYNES MON. TO SUN. OCT. 27 to NOV. 2 . ANITA O'DAY i iri well, alas, as the garlands of flowers that floated across Florestan as he sang of springtime in his aria. Felsenstein himself visited America three times, most recently in 1971 when he led a series of seminars at Boston University under the . sponsorship of Sarah Caldwell's opera consortium. Finally, this week 'sees the publication of what ;may prove Felsenstein's ;longest-lasting American memorial, a book of his collected writings, translated and edited by the conductor Peter Paul Fuchs (W. W. Norton, $10.50). Unfortunately Norton has got out the book quite shoddily there is not even something so basic as a list of Felsenstein's productions (and his repertory was amazingly diverse, running from the "Figaro," "Don Giovanni" and "Magic Flute" of Mozart, through "Rigoletto," "Traviata," and "Otello" of Verdi, Offenbach's "Bluebeard" and "Hoffmann," even "Fiddler on the Roof") or the necessary index. And what is in the book is then, repetitive, self-contradictory, unhelpful about just the things we want most to know about. Here are the statements about "fulfilling the intentions of the composer ami author" followed by unexplained statements that one can be faithful while imposing cuts and ignoring the source-materials the composer and author worked with. ' Interviewers kept asking Felsenstein the same questions, and, for answer, he would quote , himself. The essays, mostly written for the program-books of premieres, show Felsenstein as not much of a writer: the most thorough exposition of his ideas here actually comes in an essay by Joachim Herz, a Felsenstein disciple who is general manager of the Leipzig Opera. All this said, the dominant ideas here are crucial ones, though as Felsenstein himself argues, they are not new these are the ideas that created a central tradition of opera, and that simply dismiss the kind of person whose notion of talking about opera is to tell you all about Beverly Sills' Aida in Newark 20 years ago, or about what Luciano or Joan or Jackie will be up to next. "The heart of music theater," Felsenstein writes, "is to turn music-making and singing on the stage into communication that is convincing, truthful, and utterly essential. All problems of t FRI. PCI 31-7 "m: 1 1 JlrV4 i 7 J ? You might come out of this exhibition and discover you're albry ! The Revolution is a stimulating, very entertaining history exhibition, located in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. When you enter The Revolution, you're given a computer-keyed ballot. Then, you participate in a series of multi-media experiences that recreate the events which brought about the American Revolution. And vote on where you stand on the major issues. From the good old days in the early 1760 s when everything was just George. To the desperate days DO during the Siege of Boston. You'll live it all. The Stamp Act. The Stamp Act riots. The Boston Massacre. The Massacre Trial. The Tea Party. Lexington. The Siege of Boston. . . And after you've lived through all the events and marked your ballot on the key issues, a Honeywell computer will tell you exactly where your sympathies lie. You might just come out of this Bicentennial exhibition and discover you're a Tory! But lory or ratnot, you re sure to discover how exciting it is to take part in The Revolution. THE REVOLUTION Freedom Trail Stop 2. Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Faneuil Hall Marketplace Open daily: 9 AM-6 PM Admission: $1.50 for adults; 75 for children. Or see all three Boston 200 exhibits with a special $4 ticket ($2 for children). Sponsored by Sun Oil Co lot ON SALE NOW M Box Office, all ticket agenciaa, ma Boston Phoenix Classified orace, 63 comm. Ave., Kenmore Sq, ke ledl ii 9. TONITE-l:J0 k 11 RICHIE HAVENS plus IMNV MAROONM OPENS MON -SAT. (Oct. 20-25) -Reggae Direct From Jamaica TOOTS & THE MAYTALS shews nlUly-8.30 ft 11 TONITE 9-11-1 RAHSAAN jROLAMD KIRK TpZs'VW.W. (ftct. id-lfl" eflTIIUMY RAXTON hat. DAW HCUANO a MMV ALTSCrWL , 3 Shows nltsly 8-11-1 ., DANCE -' COMRANY Opens This Season's expressions Dance Series t the SPINGOLD THEATER BRA NOBIS UNIVERSITY, WotiMm. MA 02I54 Also Featuring Erick Hawkins Dance Company Nov. 6-8 Nikolai Dance Theatre March 4-7 Ltcture - Dtmonstration Thursdays. PERFORMANCES Fridays & Salurdays Phone 894 -4343 LVJ.M-JIMJW 1 "UirtlerW" Moil orders Send check er Money Order with stomped self-addressed envelope to Symphony Hall, Boston, Mass. a i n t S4 Framingham 965-2200 Isabella Farrell In jComing Next. CABARET Smash Musical Hit! Saugus 321-5700 Jay Stuart & Williams in A Barbara Willian Coming Next . FRENCH DRESSING! An Impressionist Revue! Randolph 986-5000 Martin Ross In Coming Next The Improper Bostonian Miss Sandy O'Hara in "Best of Burlesque" 8znH? it tHrfj?lfr3' SylT'lft5x' Veve only X . -ef just begun. If November marks your Tenth Wedding Anniversary . . . Top of the Hub wants to share your special event. You see, in November, the Hub is ten years new, too ... and we're treating ten couples, married in November, 1965, to an elegant evening in our newly redecorated setting. Just send in this coupon to enter. Entries must be received by November 10. The big night is November 2 1 . Congratulations! We've only just begun! ttouffers TopofmeHub Prudential Center Boston, Massachusetts 02199 536-1775 Name. Address. City Date of Anniversary. Zip Code. .Telephone. 1903: When womsn fought fcr the right to vota Masterpiece Theatre Host: Alistair Cooke Sl wJ jf -!s r 9 The death of Walter Felsensteiri is a great tragedy for his family, his friends, and the world musical community. , His vision of music theater and his brilliant productions set unique standards of artistic excellence. Felsenstein achieved results with his company few others dared even imagine possible, and, having achieved, his own remarkable vision of what might be became clears' er and drove him even harder. t He had infinite patience and grand impatience. He Was a great man, a great director. He was my friend, f will miss him sorely. Sarah Caldwell 1 II I i n Tonight 9:C0 PM Channel 2 PBS Mobil the drama and of staging are secondary to this. Music theater exists when a musical action with singing human beings becomes a theatrical reality that is unreservedly believable'. The dramatic happening must take place on a level where music is the only means of expression. The performer must not give the effect of being an instrument or a component part of music that already exists, or of a marionette being manipulated by the music, but that of being its creative fashioner." The key element in Felsenstein's technique for enacting these noble beliefs is the . notion of "Vorges-chichte," of "preliminary plot": the bulk of the book is taken up with its exposition. The technique involves the full explanation of offstage events about which the composer and the librettist remain silent but which, for Felsenstein, generate the meaning of what we see. "I know the characters. I know what they do and how they behave when they are not on stage, in scenes that have not been written; I have investigated their earlier livers, their private lives. That information must be imparted to the singers and to my collaborators." Somehow for Felsenstein's highly-trained corps of singers, these stories on the face of it no different from those volumes about the childhood of Shakespearean heroines that good Victorian ladies turned out triggered per- pwm Professor Irwin Corey Oct 20-25th SHOWTIMES: Mon-Thurs: 8:30 & 11 Fri&Sat: 8-10-12 Pork Sn S - Boston tjl f&0e ror reservations call 536-7900 Special rates now avaiiawe for business mpptinnR and " 3 private jF sonal emotions and experiences that in turn found expression in the portrayal of Carmen or Violetta pj the Queen of the Night onstage. The suggestion 6'f off-stage life is exactly what John Moulson, a Felsenstein singer, so disturbingly did in the role c Pierre in Sarah Caldwell's production of Prokofiev "War and Peace" hfe made a character much fuller than anything Prokofiev and his librettis had left, and one that seemed odd moving among the Tolstoy cartoons that peopled the stage. About just how this triggering works Felsenstein's book is completely silent. It can't be said that Felsenstein's career was a greatly influential one, though the obituary in the New York Times claimed that for him. While Felsenstein had disciples, the rehearsal conditions which his methods required are simply not to be found outside his own theater, trje Komische Gper in East Berlin (perhaps they exist at Moscow's Bolshoi as welJ); the productions he did in other houses, for La ScaTa. Vienna, and several German companies quickly fell into wreckage because Felsenstein himself could ntt be there to supervise f 4- The reports of those who saw his work remain as proof that the legend was also reality. Now the charge of that most unreliable of guardians, memory, the fact of his work, the truth that it once existed, joins the statements of the composers he so devotedly served, a rebuke to much of what we so carelessly praise, j -f ii'x. i OU3LUI I riCd IVICJI lCt Every Sunday 1-6 p.m. (rain or shine) ,f Open now to Oct. 26 Faneuil Hall Market on The Freedom Trail LAST 2 WEEKS Over 100 Quality Displays 536-0300 i's-issas - . . jQSTiDS DOWNSTAIRS A GREAT WAY TO GO FOR ENJOYMENT AND DANCING. UIDDV UnilD ITAtDU Louis O.Kelso The noted economist and author discusses "The Economic Requirements for Freedom" at the 7th session of The Bicentennial Forums, Boston's Bicentennial speaker series. Thursday, October 30, 4:30 p.m., New England Life Hall. Tickets are available by calling 266-7660. Bicoiterinial Forums: Boston Kxaniincs the An lcricai i Ex )eriment. Future Bicentennial Forums include Huw Wheldon, managing director, EBC Television, November 25

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