|Hoffmann (Grigolo), struggling with writing and the human condition. Photo (c) Met Opera|
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
However belatedly, I decided to round up a personal "best of" list for the last calendar year. It's always an enjoyable experience of revisiting... particularly poignant for me as I looked back on the last of my German opera-going (for now.) Due to my own relative restraint (not to say remissness) in attending, I've limited myself to a top three in my usual categories.
Tanja Ariane Baumgartner. Selecting one of her performances was difficult, as she was one of the most reliably exciting singers in my Frankfurt season. But her Charlotte, in Werther, was not only richly sung, but intensely intelligent and intensely sensual; showing Charlotte as a lively, trammeled spirit, rather than a domestic saint, was much appreciated by me!
Anja Silja. She's still got it. She may have invented it. In Aribert Reimann's Gespenstersonate, she made parrot noises and commented on the human condition, and I was thrilled and terrified.
Monday, January 12, 2015
As the Monty Python peasant says, "I'm not dead yet!" A mixture of malaise in cultural readjustment and madness in dissertation-writing, however, put me very nearly out of commission for late autumn opera-going. Thanks to friends pulling me to opera, however, I did get to see three operas at the Met, which deserve more than belated notes here, but I thought they deserved at least notes.
- Death of Klinghoffer. I even started a blog post on this one. And I'm sorry I didn't finish it, as it was a theatrically gripping, emotionally powerful experience. The opera (admirably, I think) resists the imposition of narrative, the interpretation of narrative, allowing the characters to offer their own competing claims in turn. The production is less comfortable with such ambiguity (and ambiguity is not even quite the right word; Keats called it "negative capability.") Anyway, I thought it was great, with Paulo Szot a standout as the compassionate, remorseful captain.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Saturday, October 4, 2014
|This won't end well. Macbeth, Act II. Photo (c) Met Opera|
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
|Act II: Majeski, Mattei, Abdrazakov, Petersen. Photo (c) Ken Howard/Met Opera|
James Levine's chemistry with the Met orchestra is always a delight to hear. Their Nozze was characterized by unusually deliberate tempi (sometimes, to my mind, less than successful; sometimes, as in "Non so più," revelatory.) The orchestral reading also had a sense of ceremony that I don't often associate with this opera, where everything is to play for. The orchestral detail was invariably gorgeous, however, with the woodwinds deserving special acclaim for their evocation of atmospheric and emotional background. The harpsichordist was a humorist, providing commentary on the not-infrequent sequences of concealment and conspiracy. Although there were sometimes slight discrepancies between singer and pit tempi in arias (surprising to me, but minor,) the matching of stage movement to orchestral punctuation was unerringly precise. Levine and the orchestral forces, as well as the singers, deserve credit for the nuanced and expressive phrasing of the recitative.