From the New York Review of Books
For the obsessive seeker of meaning, contemporary opera productions can make for some difficult evenings. At its best a new production of a well-known opera will provide some marvelous insight into what the work should mean to us. The trouble is, we can’t know in advance how much sense the production is going to make and therefore don’t know how much effort we should put into deciphering what is going on onstage. It is a tricky matter since this intellectual activity often takes place at the expense of blissful immersion in some splendid passage of music. The controversial new Salzburg production of Beethoven’s Fidelio poses a particularly acute example of the problem.