Chapter 2 – Guns? Really?

For context on this post, go here.

My 1991 Così was my first at Wolf Trap, and it was a watershed in the beginnings of my grappling with the extra-musical aspects of our business. I entered the world of opera as a pianist, and I entered it quite late. I got my first opera job at the age of 30, and I had some serious catch-up to do. So I developed a healthy dose of tunnel vision for a while, for I simply had to get my own house in order and stay one step ahead of the singers. I had paid scant attention to some of the theatrical aspects of our art form. And a Christopher Alden production was just what the doctor ordered to get my attention.

I don’t know why I remember guns. But the Albanians had them. And it wasn’t a big deal, particularly in retrospect. Fairly mild. Yet it fascinated me. For the first time, I found myself lost in these characters and the crazy world they made onstage. The music was still there, still integrated, but I had gotten to the point where I could stop paying full attention to it all the time.

Gardner talks about interpersonal (between individuals) and intrapersonal (self-knowledge) intelligences. The shock of some of the production choices helped me begin to examine the people in Così, how they related to one another, and how well they actually knew themselves. I was a little preoccupied with Dorabella, probably because I wanted to be her. (Personally, I think I had the convictions of Fiordiligi without her coglioni, and that was boring. Much more fun to imagine living free and easy like Dorabella.)

In retrospect, I hadn’t even begun to figure out how Mozart’s masterful musical characterizations defined these characters’ personalities and world views. I was looking at them through a very specific, rather distorted lens; yet it was just the one I needed to give me a new gateway into the world of Così.

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