I challenge you to Name That Opera in this example of Regietheater run wild. Click on the image for a better view. If you've seen the picture in context, or the production, don't answer. Obviously I chose it because it seemed when I saw it live, and still seems, a rather unlikely and absurd setting for the opera in question, despite the discipline of the movement; not for this director the messy blocking of Kasper Holten's Meistersinger. Production and credit to be given in due course. I'll refrain from 'yes' or 'no' below until I've got a good few replies (if I'm lucky).
UPDATE (SPOILER ALERT: if you haven't been following this and you want to make a guess, look no further): 'The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve', and no, it's NOT A Midsummer Night's Dream, though Christopher Alden's ENO production set in a 1960s school would have been another counter-intuitive proposition, if only so many folk hadn't seen it.
No, the opera was guessed in the nick of time, and with the previous 25 or so having been declared as not the one, by my dear blogging pal from over the pond Susan Scheid. It is indeed Janáček's From the House of the Dead, aka Z mrtvého domu, that last and probably oddest of all his operas, based on Dostoyevsky's Siberian prison memoirs. The production is by young Czech Turk, if you see what I mean, Daniel Špinar for Prague's National Theatre (Národni divadlo). I saw it there during last year's Prague Festival and you can read all about my impressions - as presumably nobody did, or if they did they forgot, and Sue promises she was winging it - some way down in this Arts Desk piece on the Festival.
If I'd have put up a photo from the first two acts you would have got it. The below and above images by Patrik Borecký.
So what's with the concert-hall, tuxedoed setting for Act Three? I never did really work it out. The best I can do is that since the Goryanchikov character in the novella is Dostoyevsky's alter ego, Špinar makes him Janáček's. So he's a composer/performer and the first part of Act Three must be his fantasy, which makes the end hellish confusing. Aincha sick of directors' "it was only a dream" ideas? The worst recently was how Kasper Holten makes Act Two of Die Meistersinger Sachs's dream - a total mess.
The top photo is nicely deceptive, since you can't tell whether the figure on the piano is a man or a woman. In fact it's a real twist on Janáček's characterisation of Alyeya/Alyosha the Tatar boy, usually played by a soprano but here cast as a fey young man sung by a tenor, Goryanchikov's prison bitch.
Added dodginess in that last act was a woman wearing only panties, chucked choreographically around the stage as the narrative of intense cruelty to a poor girl unfurled. Anyway, now you know.
So, sweet friends (at least those on UK time), to bed.
STOP PRESS: my Czech friend Jan told me that someone's put the entire film of the production up on YouTube. Snag: no subtitles, and if ever you needed to understand the words in an opera, it's this one. Still, you might like to dip to hear how good the singing and playing are, and what goes on in Act 3... The lead picture would make it even harder for anyone to guess what opera (there would be many Traviatas, I suspect. Remember, this lady doesn't keep her clothes on for long).
LATEST: The Royal Opera has just announced its 2017-18 season. And what's finally arriving at Covent Garden? From the House of the Dead, in a new production by Krzysztow Warlikowski, whose Phaedra(s) with Isabelle Huppert was stunning. Expect the setting to be as wacky as the above, though.