My friend Isaac Butler very kindly lined up early yesterday in order to snag us a pair of rush seats for the final performance of Doctor Atomic at the Met. Isaac is a very smart theatre director who doesn't regularly go to the opera, so he brings a professional's eye but also an outsider's perspective. His critique of the staging is totally on-point and the flaws he points out are -- in my admittedly ultra-limited experience at the opera -- rather widespread. (Is it really too much to ask that performers move with a purpose whenever they are on stage?)
Also, Mark Adamo is totally right about the libretto. Look, it's an opera. Sung text takes longer to deliver than spoken text. Even when your show lasts for three and a half hours, you only have time for so many words. Make them count. (I quibble only with his critique of the John Donne "Batter My Heart" aria, which is both awesome in and of itself, and a welcome injection of energy into an otherwise moribund production.)
Adams's music is great -- the orchestration is spectacular, and the final ten minutes are especially gripping. But the libretto is a high-concept cop-out and the staging is inert. I can't help but be disappointed -- I so wanted to like this.