28 September 2010

Met opening night, 2010

Wagner DAS RHEINGOLD, Met Opening Night, 27.IX.2010; c. Levine; Terfel, Blythe, Owens, Selig, Koenig, R. Croft, Siegel, Oropesa, Johnson, Mumford, Harmer.

Here's a pic of Deborah Voigt interviewing light a.k.a. Robert Lepage. There were celebrities in attendance, muttering "what, no intermission?". It was rainy too, which ruined more than a few entrances. Seating for the outdoor simulcast was hell.

Inside the house, James Levine reasserted his place in the universe with a characteristically balanced reading of the piece-- vibrant but controlled. I never spend a thought on Bryn Terfel, but tonight he wasn't his typical self-indulgent self, which is to say, he was brilliant as Wotan. Shades of a young James Morris, minus the snarl; the voice was appropriately overbearing, forming a heavenly pair with Stephanie Blythe's lush fat Fricka. (Next to Levine, she got the loudest ovations.) The Freia, Wendy Bryn Harmer, was thrilling and visceral, as was Franz-Josef Selig's Fasolt and Eric Owens' Alberich. And the Rheinmaidens too. Everyone benefited from Lepage's modular steroid-raked stage, which reflected sound outward, and also pushed most of the singers downstage. Richard Croft's Loge was the sole failure: too earnest, too dainty-- but I think I caught him sneezing a couple of times, so he may have been under the weather. Regarding the Cirque du Soleil: I'm a big believer, and it didn't disappoint. There were moments of tension--like, will Freia fall from the net and break her neck, did Fasolt's slide down the stage break his neck, did any of the stunt doubles break their necks, will Woglinde's wire break and break Lisette Oropesa's neck, etc.--so that took attention off the music a bit. But still it was magical and enormous and multidimensional and correctly alive: a true 21st century production. Costumes and hair, on the other hand, were just awful.

One alarming note: James Levine seemed to have unusual difficulty navigating the couple of shallow steps to get onto the stage for his curtain call. He didn't look healthy.