You don't see enough late antiquity on stage. There has been a fair amount about the Met's new production of Verdi's early opera Attila. The focus of much of the coverage has been on the costumes designed by Prada. The Thread has the best coverage:
Through a somewhat amusing chain of moles and gossip, we learn that Prada's Attila costumes comprise leather, fur and distressed denim, reminiscent of the designer's past runway collections.
The highly protected dress rehearsal couldn't trick the blogosphere, and we got snippets of the barbaric landscape, with Prada outfitting the grimy castmembers in fringed leather, rumpled tees, studs, furs and distressed finishes.
But what about the production as a whole? The FT is not convinced:
It all looked interesting on paper. It didn't look interesting - or dramatic or effective or even coherent - in the theatre.
While Muti made beautiful music in the pit - often rousing, sometimes reflective, always precise - his cohorts created stilted pageants on the stage. Ignoring all opportunities for activity or even character definition, they reduced the primitive saga of barbarism in the Roman Empire to a convention for singing statues. The clumsy result: a concert with bizarre costumes performed amid walls of impurely decorative scenery.
Ouch. It gets worse at New York Magazine:
The Met’s new aesthetic has taught us that we have less to fear from a director’s lofty concept than from a director without a concept, and Audi seems to have dropped off his cast in the décor and fled. Perhaps he was scared off by Muti, who brings such overweening clarity of intention to an opera he adores that he leaves little room for anyone else’s interventions. Then again, because so many of the singers lacked clear visions of their characters, Muti was able to shape the ensemble to his specifications. On opening night, the usually squishy tenor Ramón Vargas vaulted to a new level. That’s not to say he plumbed the role of Foresto for anything deeper than the usual stock affects, but he did discover some unsuspected subtleties, especially in plaintive, half-voice passages and in his Act III curtain-raiser, “Che non avrebbe il misero.” Violeta Urmana brought her spiked weapon of a voice to the regicidal warrior Odabella, who was far more fearsome than the Ildar Abdrazakov’s politely fuzzy Attila. The one jolt of individuality came from a last-minute sub, the baritone Giovanni Meoni, who stepped in for Carlos Álvarez in the role of the Roman general Ezio and delivered it with the sinew and panache of a genuine Verdi baritone.