Dr. Kristina Bendikas studied music and theatre at McGill University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. in Drama from the University of Toronto. The following year her article “Wagner Alive: The Challenge of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s Dutchman” was published in Opera Journal. She resides in Albany, New York.2004 0-7734-6485-9
This work is the first full-length analysis of the major productions of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1932-1988), who has been hailed internationally as one of the most important opera directors/ designers of the last century. In a career spanning four decades he was in demand at the leading opera houses of the world where he regularly collaborated with world-class conductors and singer-actors producing an enormous range of operas representing every period, genre and style from Monteverdi and Rossini to Wagner and Strauss. He was instrumental in reinstating the seria operas of Mozart into the active repertoire and was a formidable champion for new works. These credentials require an investigation into the reasons why he was so critically and popularly successful and the influence that he has had on opera production.
Kristina Bendikas has crafted a uniquely scholarly investigation into Ponnelle’s most important and influential productions at the San Francisco Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and the Houston Grand Opera, as well as those he premiered throughout Europe. In meticulously documented chapters the author draws from substantial primary source material including reviews, interviews, and production notes in order to document and analyze the choices of the director/ designer in operas ranging from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito to Rossini’s La Cenerentola to modern operas such as Reimann’s Lear. Ponnelle’s views on the relationship between the music of opera and theatre of opera – still central to debates about the future of opera production – construct the critical juncture “opera theatre” which lies at the heart of the book. This book illuminates the work of a formidable artist and more importantly, leads to a deeper understanding of the concerns and controversies that shaped opera production in the late twentieth century.