De Materie

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A great number of words and huge photographs in the media, devoted to critiques of this extraordinarily creative “cultural stew,” have concentrated on the venue, The Park Avenue Armory. The enveloping size, the deft handling of the space and the sets, the luminous “dirigibles” floating above, the ability of the orchestra to slide back and forth, the passionate religious poetry writ large while the virginal figure sings, the dancers whose limbs flail in space, and of course THE SHEEP. “Oh, the Sheep!” they extol in Scotland. (The press coverage has been quite anthropomorphic and charming.) The woman next to me admitted she came for the sheep.

This is obviously a major work by Louis Andriessen that is the operatic oeuvre of the moment. Staged by Heiner Goebbels, it is a tour-de-force of space exploitation. And it was visually thrilling to say the least.

If, however, you are not an aficionado of contemporary music and if you value your hearing capacity, you will not savor the two hours that you are locked into place (without intermission) to hear four piercing sopranos, many drums and other aural blandishments. TAKE EARPLUGS! The Armory’s bleachers, by the way, have no banisters for the many faithful who climb and descend the stairs with trepidation.

We always applaud the Armory’s approach at breakneck speed towards originality and creativity, and if you’re looking for “the next thing,” go there!

Barbara Tober

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