10 December 2004

Tannie Sundries

09 December 2004, Met Tannhaeuser

Final curtain call. Thomas Hampson, Peter Seiffert, Elizabeth Bishop, conductor Mark Elder, Deborah Voigt, Kwangchul Youn.

A busy, busy (wet) Friday, so quickly: (1) why no m4m action at Venusberg?? how redstate of the Met; (2) late substitution for the role of Hermann: Kurt Moll was ill; announcement occurred before the second act, eliciting grunts across the auditorium; sensing Debbie fans' rabid alarm, the guy nervously waved his arms "No" and apologized for not announcing the Youn change before Act I (must have slipped their mind than Hermann & Co. appear in the last few minutes of the act); (3) last time I heard Bishop was in the thankless role of the girl Fenena, and I remember being mildly impressed; last night sizzled like a principal--not as overtly sexual as Michelle DeYoung: her Venus had more than a tinge of grand feminine dignity; schooled voice even up and down the register a la Voigt, and knowing that she's a short night, made every phrase and turn count; defended Venus' membership in the mezzo repertory convincingly; if the Met braintrusts are even half-conscious, expect Bishop to be our Wagnerian mezzo for the next decade; (4) by her own standards, Voigt wasn't quite in the zone: only because she consistently delivers up at the same impossible level, therefore any sagging is noticeable, however minor, and last night miniscule cracks appeared in the middle register transitions during Act II; but then happily she was back to her old goddess self in the third act; (5) Hampson perfect as Wolfram, but the bigger surprise was Seiffert outheldentenoring his memorable debut evening's performance; the atmosphere was electric/serene by the opera's finale, made me think I was at a Levine Parsifal; forget Venusberg, Seiffert's enough for me to consider gracing the next Tannie on Tuesday. Ladies and girls of North America, we got ourselves a true Wagnerian lyric in our bosomy midst: can't, just can't let him escape back across the Atlantic.