Horror night in Lisbon - Medea 

Chocking news from Lisbon: Medea Killed the children, Letonja and OSP killed the music.

The performance of Medea, third night. An opera by Cherubini and some "anonymous" composers...
Yesterday, in the Portuguese National Opera House, Teatro Nacional de S. Carlos, a new standard of performance was established by the Portuguese Symphonic Orchestra and the Conductor Marko Letonja.

The original score, not yesterday...

When Letonja raised the baton in the beginning and the first notes sounded in the room I realised immediately that a nightmare was about to start. And it was a nightmare. Not a single note in tune, by the violins, not a clear single entrance of the orchestra. Misspelled notes, primitive errors, anacrusis intonation was awful with all the musicians apart along the entire performance in a complete disaster. In the middle of the second act the bassoon proved that it is possible to dream, but it was a glimpse, it was a twinkling of an eye inside an ocean of terror and disrespect for the music and the public. Some interesting combinations of the bass strings and the bassoons and that all folks!
The choir was also infamous. Some people remarked that the choir was better after the arriving of the new choir conductor: Andreoli. Yesterday the choir was in the same level of the orchestra: a complete disaster, out of tune, without any sort of cohesion, mistaken all the times and with a awful sound. The sopranos screamed, the tenors and bassos where out of the score. Terrible.
All the symphonic parts where destroyed by a careless direction and a careless attitude of the musicians. It is almost impossible to believe but the musicians forgot the basic rules of playing and how to read the notes, worst is almost impossible. Not a single anacrusis in time, a single anacrusis in the entire opera with 3 hours of, so called, music!
Marko Letonja showed a very poor conduction of the all set. I have almost no words to report this tragic night of “opera”. It is unbelievable in the XXI century to have a performance such that.
I have no answers, but the concertmaster Devries is certainly one of the responsibles of this poor situation, he must be replaced after this notorious night and a notorious decadence of the string section, not only the performance but the sound is infamous, we heard no music coming from the pit, we heard a noise cacophony. To call that music is an offence to real musicians and an offence to the music itself. Another responsible of this situation is the conductor Letonja, another one would struggle against this situation. Other conductors did it with success, I remember Donato Renzetti for instance. It is forbidden to speak about articulation or rhetoric in this panorama, it was worst than a performance of students beginning to study. It is worst because in the case of children starting their studies they usually play with enthusiasm, yesterday it was possible to heard a bad, pessimistic and grey “orchestra”.

At least some cell phones rung during the performance, at least we heard some notes in tune!
Cherubini and Médée? Impossible to say if this is a good score, we heard a kind of phantom, not even with skeleton, of the original score. Spoiled by cuts and recitatives written in the middle of the 19th century and destroyed by that incredible act of vandalism and auto commiseration of yesterday. I can say that in some points it sounded beautiful, maybe with reminiscences of Gluck. But it is impossible to say more.

From zero to ten I say: two.

I must agree and emphasize the words of Augusto Seabra in the Portuguese newspaper “O Público” (not the P.S.), he was most generous about the production, even if we thing that he was wrong in the careless way he expressed his opinion.

M.P. was also very kind here in this blog.

Note - Marko Letonja directed the overture in bare hands and I use the word baton in a metaphorical way. As a matter of fact it was ridiculous to drop the baton for such carnage…

A translation will follow. I will write about the singers and the theatrical aspects...

Cherubini after that performance:


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