Saturday, February 23, 2019

Jakov Gotovac, Ero s onoga svijeta (1935)

Not gonna lie: Bánk bán bummed me out a little, so I thought: how about a comedy? And also, a rare chance to see a Croatian opera? Yeah! So, I watched this. That title is translated as "Ero the Joker" or "Ero from the Other World." What the purpose was of me leaving it in a language that almost no one will unclear.

So there's a peasant girl, Đula, who is in love with this mysterious guy, who turns out to be the titular Ero (real name: Mića, and wow, I have NO idea how make these diacriticals without just copying and pasting), who says he's from another world, and they quickly fall in love, I guess. Đula's stepmother, Doma, appears, wanting to know what's up with her late husband, but Mića says, oh no, he's poor because you still need money in the other world, and he's broke, so she gives him her current husband's money to bring to him, and when said husband (Marko) finds out, he's super-pissed, and did I mention that this is all extremely silly? Anyway, there's some convoluted comic business and some mistaken identities, and then it turns out that this whole thing was a joke; Mića's actually a rich guy, but he'd heard from his mother that you've gotta pretend to be poor to know if a woman really loves you, and CONGRATULATIONS, Đula, you have passed the test!

So that's what that's about. Now, silliness is perfectly fine in operas; I have no problem with that per se. Nonetheless...I have to say, I didn't like this very much, though I think that's probably more the fault of the production than the opera per se. So, first and foremost, it pains me to say it, but say it I must: most of the singers are really not very good. I kind of like Siniša Štork as Marko, and I kind of like Ljubomir Puškarić in a small role as Sima the miller, but boy. Most of the cast just don't have the voices to put it over. I mean, god knows they could still sing me under the table, but that's not a massive accomplishment. I know that the opera's at somewhat of a disadvantaged since it's in a language without any international influence. It must be hard to find foreigners willing to learn it enough to sing, so you've got to go with what you've got. But, is what it is. And then the OTHER rather big thing is that neither Mića (Stjepan Franetović) nor Đula (Valentina Fijačko Kobić) had a great deal of presence, and certainly no real chemistry together, which is something I think you really, really need to bring a goofy plot like this across. Finally--and this isn't really related to the opera itself, but it still seems relevant--the English subtitles are not always super-coherent, rendering an already somewhat dubious plot even more of a mess than it had to be.

I'll admit there were a few moments that swept me away regardless: certainly, nobody's not going to like the boisterous climactic dance sequence. But overall, I'm a bit frustrated, 'cause here's the thing: the music is GREAT. It really leans heavily on the folk tradition, to memorable effect. I've never heard anything quite like it, and it deserves a production worthy of it, dammit. I just don't think this is it, and it's a damned shame, given the odds of us ever seeing another one.


Blogger Achille Talon pontificated to the effect that...

(…) and wow, I have NO idea how make these diacriticals without just copying and pasting (…)

On my computer at least, if you keep any key pressed long enough, it opens a little row of accented versions of it that you can choose from.

1:31 PM  
Blogger GeoX, who is here to stay, like it or not. pontificated to the effect that...

That works in Blogger, but for whatever reason, not in Openoffice where I draft these posts. Also, although it DOES work for the ć, the Đ remains elusive.

12:10 AM  

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