A Glass of Chianti

Friday, June 16, 2006

A mixed bag

On the recommendation of a friend, The Yankee and I had a long-distance Thursday date for the musical theatre. We sat down at 8:00 (Eastern) sharp to watch PBS broadcast of The Light in the Piazza. I was looking forward to it, I think poor Angus was humoring me but watch we did and here are some dashed off thoughts in a typical Sarah (that is, not very insightful) fashion:
  • It was incredibly awesome to see the familiar beginning shots of the show because now I could say "I've sat down right by that fountain!"
  • Baptist cracks are amusing.
  • The sound balance was absolutely horrid. I struggled to hear the orchestra and couldn't even get enough of a glimpse to give my ears a good picture of what was going on beyond the singing when it was just piano accompanying. I don't remember this being a particularly obvious problem in the Lincoln Center broadcasts that I've watched in the past (not that I can even remember the last time they did a proper opera presentation, and I know I've not seen a musical before this) so it was very frustrating and hard to get a read on what was going on musically.
  • I was charmed to bits by the hats and the costumes right from the beginning.
  • No musical ode to chianti? No chianti drinking?! Just sayin'.
All in all, though, I must say I was a little disappointed. Unable to make a real evaluation of the musical content, my attention was by necessity focused elsewhere. The story was charming, though slight, and I didn't feel as if many of the musical numbers actually advanced the plot or gave me insights into character that weren't already pretty well established in the dialogue scenes. Had the Clara/Fabrizio love been a MacGuffin, I think I would have loved The Light in the Piazza but... it wasn't and indeed actually mattered in the end. I had very little interest in either of the characters and when a romantic says that, you know the story is in trouble. Margaret is a different story entirely. She was a compelling and interesting character. I was extremely wrapped up in her conflicts between duty to her daughter and desire for Clara to be happy and something like "if I do nothing and let fate handle things, am I really responsible?" It was exciting and really the stuff that I think could have carried the musical had, well, the music and the numbers been drafted that way and not in a "Sguardo! Love is buono!!" fashion.

On the whole, though, I am right in between Terry's and Amy's evaluations on the positive side and The Yankee's on the negative: It was fine, but I'm left unfulfilled and I don't think I'm interested enough to arrange to really hear the music so I can get a sense of how that was. That probably tells you something.