23 December 2004

Rudy & Berta

My fourth Met Rodelinda, are you kidding.

Handel fatigue has set in; I'm aching even for a Fantini Aida. Meanwhile, ill Bejun Mehta continues to be a no-show, now missing two and two-third evenings. Theodora Hanslowe, who can hardly be heard beyond the prompter's box, is a poor replacement, and Unulfo's bravura arias were left languishing amidst the great performances by the other principals. This was David Daniels' best night so far, matching his prima evening, perhaps even exceeding it in some sections: hitting his groove and ready for his close-up, Ms. Juntwait. Renée Fleming continues to be dear Renée, though I noticed some thinning in her voice whenever she ascended to her top. It is her custom to bring the entire mass of her voice up with her to the upper registers, but last night it seemed she lacked her usual reserve power to do so; instead, she had to trim down the fat when she lunged upward, still reaching notes accurately but with a certain fear foreign to my ears. This crazy New York weather can't be good for any singer; let's hope her condition doesn't get any worse. Meanwhile, Stephanie Blythe has improved markedly to my ears--it's not her glorious bottom/middle that needs an upgrade but her top, which she frequently tosses out there without the same polish; last night, she seemed to have extended her clean trumpet all the way up with as much cream and elegance. Kobie van Rensburg is also hitting his stride, executing with more daring precision. Oren Gradus, scheduled to sing Garibaldo in place of John Relyea, was equally tall and manly, but was only adequate in the music.

What's that? Will there be a fifth Rodelinda for me? Duh.