I attended the opening night of Boston Lyric Opera's production of Jacques Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffman" (or "The Tales of Hoffman") on Friday night, which was a fantastically fanciful production with phenomenal singers (especially the soprano who played Hoffman's four loves). Tonight, I stumbled upon this interview with Esther Nelson who is the newly appointed general and artistic director of the BLO. The interviewer brought up the issue of the physical limitations of the Schubert theater, and Ms. Nelson responded:
"Yes. As many theaters as Boston has, to my disappointment, we don't have a single perfect opera house. It's unusual for a city of the size of Boston, with its level of cultural integrity, to not have an opera house where you can do grand opera. That for me is a major handicap, a sadness, because it eliminates certain work that, as the largest company in New England, we should be able to do. We can't do Wagner or "Otello" the way it's meant to be done."
To me, part of the charm of BLO is its small size and similarly moderate productions. I think that in restraint and limits can come an enormous capacity for creativity and resourcefulness. I've enjoyed all the operas I've seen put on by the BLO, even though they may not be ridden with elaborate machinery or big-named stage directors, they are always of top quality with wonderful singers.
Ms. Nelson mentions how it is impossible for the BLO to mount large productions such as Wagner and "Otello," well now in this economic recession, that may be an advantage, as this article from the Washington Post describes the first casualty of the economic downturn being Wagner's "Ring" cycle which the Washington National Opera has postponed indefinitely.
Let's hope we get out of this recession soon so that all opera productions both big and small can be enjoyed by everyone :)