11 October 2007

Lucia trivia

Fall rain, enemy of cheap mascara, is how the Yankee fans among us feel this week. Also: how fans of good trill feel after seeing this Lucia; or how Lucia herself feels when a dog (claiming to be Macbeth) lurks in facades. Two evenings ago, I was back at the Met, for a third (!) Lucia. I've said all I could say about Dessay. (Also, my prima night comments are here.) Moving on: one nice thing I've noticed but failed to mention thus far is how refreshingly alive James Levine has been on the podium. He's using both arms. His right arm (the baton arm) has many more nuanced gestures than I can remember, and his left hand is back in full command of the prissy strings, with a very authoritative palm-up-curled-fingers gimme-more-tremolo posture. And he's vigorously singing along with his singers, like he used to in those DVDs from the 90s. I think this means another 20 years of healthy conducting. Of Strauss and Wagner and Mozart (but leaving the bel cantos alone, please).

Speaking of Wagner, Mary Zimmerman's Act I set does resemble Otto Schenk's Met Die Walk├╝re. Coincidentally, in terms of pure volume and dynamics, her singers Dessay and Giordani can indeed hang with their Wagnerian compatriots sans size envy. They're deafening. I will also include the comprimario Michaela Martens, whose trombone of an Alisa absolutely dominates that Nabucco-like choral rah-tah-tah that caps Act II-- she's one fat-sounding Fricka in progress, Sieglinde declares. We need to hear more from that loud mouth of hers. Lastly, a third sampling of Stephen Costello confirms the observation that there's a little Calleja in his vibrato, though not as unattractively severe. Mama Cieca is being Ed Rosen to Costello's Giordani, which is interesting. No doubt we're all rooting for the young man's further success.