Friday, September 30, 2005

Handel Haters, in Berkeley?

At the Berkeley Public Library last night, Pamela Rosenberg spoke about the SF Opera's commission of Dr. Atomic, in a session moderated by my dear friend Andrea Lewis, the host of KPFA's current affairs Morning Show .

Proceedings were cordial and uneventful, until the post-talk Q&A session, when a hyperventilating old lady pounced on Pamela with the question, "Why do you hate Handel?" Visibly distressed, the unidentified questioner pressed-on, "I hated your Alcina -- why do you have to destroy Handel's beautiful music by having people trashing furniture and disrobing on stage? And after I read Joshua Kosman's review of Rodelinda, I immediately returned my tickets!"

(The accuser, of course, conveniently failed to register that Kosman actually considered Alcina one of the top ten classical music perfomances that season.)

Pamela Rosenberg, Handel hater

Always the classy one, the cornered Madame Rosenberg expressed regret that the questioner felt such way, but she actually thought the current production of Rodelinda was actually one of the most moving things she had shown during her tenure. And added credence to her statement by disclosing that David Daniels (who sings Bertarido in different productions of Rodelindas both at SFO and the MET this season) said in a panel discussion in New York that he much rather sing baroque opera in updated versions, as he feels closer to the character than in a production where he has to wear powdered wigs and breastplates. And Rosenberg further went on to defend the Stuttgart production of Alcina: "that production has become something of a cult in Europe," she said. Her company was invited to present it at Edinburgh Festival, where it was consistently praised by critics.

© 2005 C. Chang

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