Australian opera director Elijah Moshinsky, who died at the age of 75 on Covid-19 after a fracture, took a traditionalist approach and was widely acclaimed for his keen psychological insights and theatrical performance. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was one of the most prominent directors working in two London homes, not a strong interventionist influenced by East Germans such as Harry Kupfer, but Peter Hall, Jonathan Miller, Nicholas Kupfer devoted himself to a modest and innovative school. Getz Friedrich and Joachim Hertz were beginning to feel their presence.
He began directing as a student at Oxford University. There, his work caught the eye of Covent Garden’s general director, John Tourie, who took over as staff producer. His first break was a low-budget, simplified piece by Peter Grimes (1975) in Britain. It was famous for Brecht’s effects, such as the steep rake stage that captivated and intimidated the audience. The postcard’s rejection of naturalism evoked the fishing community with minimal furniture and boats, but unusually, real fish were seen changing hands.
His work in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (1979), also in Covent Garden, similarly developed Brechtian techniques, with characters entering and exiting roles, but strongly narrative and witty. Rich, did not introduce irrelevant elements. By the late 1980s, he had grown into an enthusiastic Verdi with a series of remarkable works: Otello (1987), Attila (1990), Simon Boccanegra (1991), Stiffelio (1993), Aida (1994). ), All Covent Garden, and Rigoletto for Australian opera (as in 1991).
But by then, he had established the principles of a stylistic approach based on psychological motives and faithfulness to the human richness of Verdi’s opera. It was also at this time that he published the equivalent of a manifesto entitled “Verdi: Postmodernist Pocks” (1992) published in Opera magazine. This article is a firm counter-argument to what he described as “postmodernist critical legitimacy,” deconstructing the classics and addressing the ideological aspects of canon in an expressionist device, especially in an ironic way. Acknowledging that it is impossible to perform a canon opera in “non-critical traditionalism that existed in the past,” Mosinsky now sought directness, clarity, truth, and simplicity. He opposed the iconic set that drew attention to them, still criticizing the steep stage for its distorted effects, and called for a “post-ironic” approach to opera production.
Born in Shanghai, Elijah was the son of Abraham Mosinsky, a Russian Jewish parent who fled Vladivostok, and his wife, Eva (formerly Krasavitsky). Growing up in Melbourne, he was very interested in history and graduated from the University of Melbourne to teach. In 1973 he received a scholarship to St. Antony’s College in Oxford, where he studied 19th-century Russian liberal Alexander Herzen in Isaia Berlin and earned an MPhil.
In addition to his work in London, he also collaborated with the Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera and the Baxton Festival. His international career included works at the Opera Houses in Metropolitan, New York, Opera Australia, Lyric Opera, Chicago, St. Petersburg, Beijing and Seoul. The more traditional pieces of his later career fell better at Met than at 1980 Baro at Brecht’s less-accepted Masquera.
On the other hand, reliance on theatrical effects rather than ideological involvement did not always survive the many revival that his work enjoyed. Lohengrin’s 2009 resurrection in 1977 sharpened the concept somewhat with an orgy of relics and other devout tools. The stage was occupied by totem poles, crosses and candles. And origin, taboo is charged. However, this work and his Simon Boccanegra have been resurrected for decades and have become obsolete and intellectually naked.
Notable at ENO are the works of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (1982), Nuremberg’s Master Singer (1984), and The Bartered Bride (1985) Mosinsky. Together with designer Timothy O’Brien, he placed Le Grand Macabre on the slipway of the M4 highway, where a young couple fell in love in a hearse. Ligeti himself felt that the production lacked fantasy, but dark humor was often encountered.
The master singer once again used pictorialism as a starting point for his imagination. In this case, 17th-century Dutch art (100-year update of action), in the words of Times critics, “created a cool, calm, bright atmosphere.” The Bartered Bride, designed by John Berry, has had some success in attempting a social perspective for all references to 19th-century art with giant sunflowers and rolling landscapes.
Disagreements with ENO’s management regarding casting have led him to work not only in the West End, but also in the National Theater and RSC. In his television film, along with designer Michael Yeargan, there was a series of Shakespeare films that hinted at famous paintings and enjoyed a taste for pictorialism. He also directed the movie The Midsummer Marriage (1984) on Channel 4 Tippet.
In 1970 he married Ruth Diteman. She survived him with her two sons, Benjamin and Jonathan, and his brothers Sam and Nathan.
• Elijah Moshinsky, an opera and stage director born January 8, 1946. Died January 14, 2021
Obituary of Elijamosinsky | Opera
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