Technology and Spectatorship
ÁINE SHEILThe Opera Director’s Voice: DVD ‘Extras’and the Question of Authority 129
The Opera Director’s Voice: DVD ‘Extras’ and the Question of Authority ÁINE SHEIL The first decade of the twenty-first century has seen not only an im- pressive rise in opera available on DVD, but also increased attention on the part of production companies to the bonus features often in- cluded with new releases. The concept of the deleted scene, standard in the case of film extras, is not a feature of opera DVDs, but inter- views with directors, conductors and cast members are common. The film critic Mark Kermode has questioned the value of interviews in- cluded with DVD releases, remarking that ‘it is very rare that any major film company promoting a recent product in which it has a creative stake will allow anything other than the most fawning, ano- dyne promotional material […] to appear on the DVD’.1 While the same is arguably true in the case of opera DVDs, which also follow a commercial imperative, this essay will argue that opera ‘extras’ re- ward close attention. At the very least, the choices involved in the inclusion of certain material can be highly revealing, demonstrating not only the practicalities of opera DVD production, but also some of the values surrounding opera that production companies cheerfully perpetuate. This essay will focus in particular on one type of bonus feature: interviews with and commentaries by stage directors. Undoubtedly, these can provide valuable perspectives on the interpretative strategies behind the productions in question, but they inevitably guide – and perhaps even narrow – reception...
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