All too often, ambitious opera directors move operas from one time and place to another in an attempt to “improve” them via this or that bold new concept. In 1976 Patrice Chéreau’s notorious Bayreuth production placed Wagner’s Ring on a Rhine River (or possibly Hudson) blighted by tenements and a mammoth hydropower plant. Jonathan Miller’s controversial 1982 production of Verdi’s Rigoletto situated the opera in mob-dominated Little Italy in New York....
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