Cher Public


Little Stevie reports on last night’s “danger carpet” incident during the Met’s Tristan:

At the beginning of Act 3, about 2 minutes into the dialogue between Kurwenal and the shepherd, the mat that slowly carries Tristan downstage during the prelude lost its grip and sent him sliding like a toboggan head first upside down right into the prompter’s box!  It appeared he took the blow to the back of his head or neck, but it was pretty severe-looking and -sounding.  The audience gasped en masse.  Instantly the orchestra stopped, and about six people ran onstage to attend to Gary Lehman.  They got him to stand up, stagehands remounted the mat, and then the curtain closed.  Only moments later Gelb [?] came onstage to announce that Gary was O.K. and planned to continue but needed a few minutes to regroup and have some water.  They began the scene again, to excited and thankful applause from the audience, and with the exception of a bit of scratchiness in the middle of the voice towards the middle of the big monologue Gary sang fine.

UPDATE: For those of you not familiar with the geography of the Met’s Tristan production, here’s a schematic diagram of the mishap.


(N.B.: Obviously, since the accident occurred early in the third act, Jane Eaglen was not in place to cushion the impact. This diagram is based on a photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.)

Counter Critic also reports on the incident.

  • operadent

    To add to the Tristan bad luck saga -- I remember in about 1980 or 1981 the second cast was supposed to take over some perfs, the second cast was Roberta Knie and Richard Cassily. Things went so bad at their first perf that they both fled the country (according to one of mt Met Friends.) They were replaced in the next scheduled perf by the first cast of G. Jones and Manfred Jung. Finally, the last two perfs were replaced with the Magic Flute. This is not the first time the Met has had problens presenting this monster.

  • Jay

    Robert Jacobson described Gwyneth’s 1981 Isolde as being “on the other side of midnight” in his Opera News review. And it was really awful. The tenor was Spas Wenkoff, not Manfred Jung. However, Lil’ Manfred sang the role opposite Behrens in December 1983. I wasn’t expecting much. But at the 12/24/83 matinee, it was a wonderful performance, except this idiot in front of me started babbling throughout the “Liebestod” and completely ruined it for all those around him.

    He was a very old genteleman, there with his son, who should have led him out of theatre, instead of letting him carry on. Well, at the end of the performance they retreated hastily because some patrons were furious and ready to beat them both over the head with stockings stuffed with coal. The NYC Wagner opera queens in those days didn’t take prisoners!

  • iltenoredigrazia

    Guess quite a few of us were at the Met for last night’s Tristan. My perception was that Lehman hit a solid surface, not the prompter. It sure sounded like a “thump.” And as someone else already said, he didn’t move for a few seconds. He may have been knocked out momentarily. They helped him sit and had to help him get up too. He was someone unsteady as he walked off stage. Interestingly, they didn’t bring the curtain down right away. He got a very big hand from the audience when the act resumed. (With him again lying down on the mat… ) And no, it wasn’t Gelb who addressed the audience.

    Any comments from those present on Voigt’s performance? I was very disappointed with her Liebestod.

    I also noticed quite a few changes in the production from the last seasons. T&S were not seen in silhoutte during the duet. Their faces were always spotlighted. The whole thing seemed a lot brighter, including the house, which was never totally darkened. Auditorium lights were dimmed but not turned off. Was that in preparation for the telecast or has it been like that for the other performances?

  • operadent

    Thaks, Jay. I stand corrected.

  • mrsjohnclaggart

    Sorry to hear the ‘new’ news that Debbie will get first crack at Brunn to be followed by the aging Brewer. Brewer needs to be doing these roles now, and judging from performances that often sound to me partly formed and uneven, she will never have the routine a ‘Wagner’ soprano needs. Moreover it’s silly to dismiss her age; after a certain point the body changes, stamina suffers and breath can be an issue. Even the impregnable Birgit had problems in her 50’s, and she had an enormous advantage over Brewer in that she’d been singing the roles in the biggest houses for a long time. A 60 year old can still pull off an impressive Liebestod or even Immolation but the whole role is another story.

    I’m sorry about the Debbie fans; she’s is clearly past her best as I hear her. She has a few not so high notes that she can plug into, but most of the voice is less attractive and less well projected than it was; she has pitch issues that are a problem in such long roles in this musical style, and while she is certainly a pro, she does not possess imagination and inspiration.

    Tristan history: Gwinnie and Spas were horrific the first night and got stuck on top of a tower that was supposed to rise as the potion worked and lower as Kurvenal came in. Didn’t happen and there was much hysteria on stage (mostly from Tattie running around the base of the thing as though Gwinnie would jump). They and Levine were booed by pretty much the entire house, people stayed and suffered Spas’ third act so they could boo.

    Becky Nye (As Roberta was referred to by one of her Kansas butch buddies backstage) lost her voice in the middle of act two but continued (there may not have been a cover). She sang the Liebestod right out of the Exorcist — two octaves below the notes in a horrific baritone. Cassilly, in many ways a fine artist had had a bad night. But oddly the audience was so stunned there was limited booing.

    Sorry but Hildegarde was best when she left the States for the last time never to return, and by no stretch was a serious Isolde. Jung was horrific but not as bad as she was. At his debut as Siegfried he tried to spring across the split forge and got stuck, landing right on his privates. He screamed, so did the audience and Leinsdorf threw his baton at the stage (a spy told me Mime Zednik was overtaken by hysterical laughter and had to be yelled at to calm down). That performance though had Elizabeth Peyer as Brunnhilde, the possessor of an amazing voice, immense, easy top — fat lady but still young. But she vanished. She had the older big Renata habit of coming slightly downstage and singing (or screaming or belting as the case might be) her high notes right at the audience. I wanted to see her do EVERYTHING. She was my sister.

    I saw praise for Eaglen in the provinces. Sorry, that woman was good for nothing and I saw NINE Isoldes (varied from very bad to preposterous), and TWO Ring Cycles (horror just won’t do as a word, Gwinnie was fab one season, Altmeyer was so panicked and crazed she was fun, even as her voice ran out (she didn’t complete the Walkeure and seemed to want to walk off in act two, she was prevented by someone in the wings but she did aim her speer at Jimmy and mime hurling it into him, and she wasn’t kidding). Hour intermission, Hildegarde went on for act three, people stayed to boo. Immolation was an amazing race to see if she could keep some sound coming, she was as much as two bars ahead of Jimmy at some points — it was an experience.

  • mrsjohnclaggart

    I meant Altmeyer’s Immolation, but she had a wonderful Kunst tenor named Neumann who was very moving and actually had a hefty (if not terribly alluring) sound. I also thought he was the best young Siegfried, every phrase was pointed and colored and he was just fantastic at the long monologue before the Awakening. They never had him back of course. Jerusalem acted the Siegfried’s very well, and shnozzola to one side, looked good but boy did one wonder when his voice was going to give out (I only saw that happen once in a Gott, where he lost it in act one, and it never came back).

    Since Birgit/Hopf/Vickers days I think one still has to go back a long time to Ligendza and Brilioth, not bel canto, but they meant it and had enough voice to get through. Also old Bjoner and Jean Cox in Geneva (both minimally 60) were stunning, I stayed over so I could see a second performance, which was even better (Tristan). She was so-so at the Met, big, unsteady voice, excellent quality and a beautiful woman when young, but not formed. But in Munich she was just fabulous (if apt to get wobbly). I saw three Empresses, last one aimed at Leonie in the artist box (she was coming in to continue the run), we wondered if Leonie would start to scream back. I think Bjorner might just have had MORE volume (hard to believe, but her tuning was better). Also as an older lady she did a very impressive Salome, every trick in the book but really authority.

  • What? Nobody mentioned the Behrens -- Sooter broadcast?