Even if it could be construed as being a little bit like sacrilege, not respecting the composer’s wishes as with the Hungarian State Opera’s version of Porgy and Bess – and having a completely white cast, in reality this is nothing new, nor strange in opera.
Last year I remember going to see at La Scala Opera in Milan, the Verdi opera Attila, and although I had heard good reviews, I was still more than a little apprehensive, since its artistic director Davide Livermore had decided to change the setting to a ‘jackboot’ version of Second World War Nazi Germany invasion of Italy, rather than the original 5th century Attila the Hun (from Transdanubia, Hungary)’s attempt, together with kinky cross dressing to boot!
I went prepared for the worse, but … I needn’t have been. Everything about the production was absolutley brilliant; the singing, the orchestra, the staging and effects (horses and on-stage cars!). The decision of not following Verdi and the librettist Solera’s intensions, in my view paid off completely!