He subjects Faust to a writhing, grotesque circus; tormenting him with visions of a pregnant Marguerite, and a dead Valentin. Schrott is maniacal and callous, delighting in the pain of others and becoming more despicable every moment he is on stage.
The comedy of this silly, convoluted plot is no longer dependent on racist stereotypes, imagery and impersonations; instead it forces the players step up to the plate and be imaginative.
The highly engaged audience was obviously enthralled with all elements of this production, laughing uproariously at onstage antics and giving hearty applause where appropriate (including at one especially effective lighting gag).
The dynamics between the siblings made me uncomfortable in a variety of ways. There were sexual undertones spliced in with disturbingly infantile antics. Clearly everyone in this opera needed to go to therapy.
In this regard, this adaptation takes advantage of every possibility of its updated New York setting for jokes. Rosalinda, for instance, is a star on an obvious Real Housewives knock-off in New York, and thus her husband's arrest and trial is very high-profile.
The only visibly identifiable ritual is partway through the show, we see Agni become "assimilated" and she's changed from her warm golden-orange, mid-century style dress into a dark charcoal version of the clothes in which the other denizens of the afterlife are dressed.
The end result of all these disconnects: it was difficult to care about the people in this opera. There seemed too little trust placed in Mozart to help us emote alongside his characters, instead encumbered by a style that seems to dig in its heels against the piece itself.
I've written several columns for Schmopera, so I think I know this audience. While this competition would be tough to impossible for a "pure" opera singer, there are plenty of us that love to perform a huge variety of things.
I felt that underneath the entertaining antics of the cast there was a message to be gleaned from the night, but it was never given the time to come to fruition.
From the beginning, the production ensures that you do not forget this is about the Me Too movement: the show begins with a slideshow of people like Harvey Weinstein and others that is prefaced with Trump's now-infamous "grab them by the pussy" comments.