The genius of Chekhov is to make comedy out of his characters, stranded in Russia’s provincial backwaters, cut off from the Moscow society they crave; seeking happiness in work, frustrated love affairs, nostalgising over their past, idealising the future. It could all be so tragic were not these earnest characters so amusing, wittily interacting in Chekhov’s social gatherings. Like Shakespeare, Chekhov holds a fine balance between dark tragedy and light comedy.
Chekhov’s plays speak to us in any language: they communicate humanity, human emotions, both joy and suffering. Eotvos’s vision, (if you can call it that), is often a nightmarish world of subconscious dreams: his characters sometimes ghost-like apparitions, floating across the stage, or frozen motionless. There’s no laughter, no comedy, no irony. No joy.
Based on Chekhov’s Three Sisters, Peter Eötvös’s acclaimed opera made its Vienna State Opera debut in Sharon’s production, under the musical direction of the composer. In an abandoned room, characters and environments are delivered via three constantly running conveyor belts. The non-stop movement created a floating world of dreams, recollections, and endlessly repeating images and actions.
Opera by Peter Eötvös
Direction by Yuval Sharon
Music Direciton by Peter Eötvös and Jonathan Stockhammer
Set Design by Esther Bialis
Lighting and Video by Jason H. Thompson