Joel Ivany is a pretentious blowhard who ruined ruined a perfectly good production of Mozart's Requiem.
There. That's all that needs to be said really. Anything else is just expanding on the point.
Pity - no, tragic - because Requiem really is an amazing work, and I was looking forward seeing this production. And let it be said, the singers and musicians were simply beautiful. Let's be clear on that. But under Ivany's asinine hand, they are wasted utterly. The latest TSO production is exactly the sort of piss-up-circle-jerk you'd expect from a fine arts wanker with an ego. A sycophant surrounded wanker who's never been told he's full of shit. How else to explain the nonsense going on here?
Ivany is not the conductor - he is the "stage manager". What does a production like this need a stage manager for? Well, this is Requiem is "semi-staged". Yes that is what it says in the program. Now what the fuck does "semi-staged" mean? In this case, "random movements and unnecessary gestures which serve no purpose except to distract the audience and give Joel Ivany something to do".
So, the choir raise their hands, cross their arms, stand up, sit down, clasp each other's shoulders. . . it is staggeringly, shockingly, mind-bogglingly pointless. It rather feels like sitting in the audience while the people around you keep getting up to go to the bathroom. It not only doesn't add anything to the music, it is a really awful distraction and constant interruption. We are never allowed to absorb and process the music; there's not a single moment where Ivany doesn't thrust his existence upon our consciousness.
The problem is that Requiem isn't an opera. There is no story, no narrative, no characters. There are no actions to perform. It's a requiem. A religious song for the dead. Have a look at the words:
See what I mean? At no point does it say "now raise your right hand with your palm to the ceiling". This isn't Simon-fucking-says! "Stand up, sit down, raise your other arm, cross your arms, turn to your left! Wander around." Apparently such gestures are considered meaningful.
I suppose the idea is to put a new spin on things. My question is: why??? It never occurs to anyone in these circles that the reason works like Requiem have been performed a million times is because they're brilliant, and they deserve to be performed a million times. No one needs to raise their arms.
What guys like Ivany are really saying when they pollute such works like this, is that they have no faith in the source material: they really don't think it can stand on its own. It needs to be tweaked . Furthermore, tweaked their way. It's not much different from pop-music videos really: superfluous imagery imposed over music without regard to content or intention. It's why we've got gang rapes in Rossini now.
It's why classical music is dying.