19 October 2007

Not a farewell

Mozart LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Met 18.X.2007; c. Jordan; Hong, Oropesa, Schrott, Pertusi, Vondung, Muraro, Murray, Kim, Leggate.

On the same day that the Yankees lost a great man, the Met may have also seen the last of a great soprano. I haven't heard of any future engagements for Hei-Kyung Hong, but I wouldn't be surprised if she turns up once again as a replacement for a high-profile cancellation in the future. But for now, last night may have been it for Hong, though from the kind of voice I just heard, she ought to be engaged by the Met for years to come. Showing little degradation or weakness, her sound is the same sparkling, poignant thing I remember from the first time I saw her many years ago, also in the same role. In an accomplished Figaro ensemble, she stood out, lending the Contessa a rare dignity and lighthearted charm, but with pathos and generosity. Her two arias shimmered in suspended time. Her presence gave the evening an air of elegance. New York values performance and excellence, and also loyalty and service. Twenty-three roles in the same number of years: Hong, the voice fresh and gorgeous as ever, should be cast by the Met for more.