Cher Public

Blow a kiss, take a bough

Richard Strauss’s many one-act operas make excellent concert programs, both for their length (usually under two hours) and the primary place each gives the orchestration, a specialty where Strauss’s brilliance seldom deserted him. The wordless apotheosis into godly treehood that concludes his Daphne is rightly treasured, a sublime late Straussian idyll, and a concert performance spares us the muddle he and his librettist made of the myth.  

In an excellent performance, such as the one given Wednesday at the Lincoln Center Festival by the Cleveland Orchestra (to be repeated Saturday), Daphne, a “bucolic tragedy,” feels rather like Beethoven’s “Pastorale”: the countrified mood painting, rural fertility rituals, intruding storm and sublime resolution. The orchestra, of course, has been translated (you might say) from genteel Beethoven to rumbustious Strauss (perhaps these are settings on one’s ears, and you can flip a switch), but the mood and the arc are very similar.

Strauss’s librettist, Josef Gregor, has simply personified the orchestral tale, though (be it noted) he has not made much use of the Greek myth of Daphne. The legendary Daphne (trigger warnings!) is best represented by Bernini’s sculpture in the Galleria Borghese: The girl has cried out to her father, the river Peneios, for help in escaping rape by Apollo. Even as the sun god seizes her body, her father transforms it into a tree. From her expression, this is as unexpected to her as it is to the god and to us.

But Strauss had other ideas. In Daphne, first produced in 1938, the nymph, to the frustration of her parents (Peneios and Gaea), her transvestite boyfriend (Leukippos) and the amorous deity who comes calling, bow in hand, is not interested in the mammalian sex urge at all. From men, she desires only fraternal affection and is alarmed when they suggest more.

She wants wood, yes, but she wants to put a ring on it—annually. With bark. And leaves. Strauss’s Apollo does not attempt rape but seduction; nobly recognizing her personal preference, however (and having just slain her mortal lover), he grants the transformation. Jupiter, in the Strauss/Gregor Danaë, undergoes a similar alteration from mythic rapist into Mitteleuropaïsche gentleman.

Strauss badgered Gregor throughout the composition for more action, but the activity often feels incidental to the slight story. Even more than the sheer difficulty of not one but two impossible tenor parts, the muddle of meaning has kept Daphne from frequent staging.

In Daphne, we are shown a band of shepherds handling herds of sheep and cattle in various stages of mating frenzy, Dionysiac revel and stampede. The weather effects are elaborate and the final scene, in which the heroine is transformed into a laurel tree, however vividly depicted in the score (and by the voice), is not likely to persuade the viewer. All is confusion unless you ignore the stage for the score.

The best performances of Daphne (as of Friedenstag, Aegyptische Helena, even Salome and Capriccio) tend to be orchestral concerts, as when, ten years ago, Simeon Bychkov and his WDR Symphony of Cologne brought Daphne to Carnegie Hall with Renée Fleming (did she ever sing the role apart from this run? I think not) and the godlike Johan Botha in the all but unsingable role of Apollo.

That was, I believe, New York’s last exposure to Daphne. It has never been staged by the Met; Elizabeth Futral did a nice job (with mediocre tenors and less than ideal dramaturgy) at the City Opera in 2004.

The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra bows to few in its abilities; its brasses glow serenely in Strauss’s impossible writing, its harps play arrow-shots as if indeed Apollo were directing them, and the moodier moments of the score, the glowering of the strings for the dead Leukippos and Daphne’s mourning, had the clarity on the Avery Fisher Hall stage that they are denied in an orchestra pit.

Franz Welser-Möst led a serene and expert performance. The Concert Choral of New York personified the frolicking and contrapuntal shepherds. This Daphne was, presumably, long in the planning before Welser-Möst departed his post at the Staatsoper in (rumor has it) very high dudgeon, and he has drawn a choice cast from the Vienna alumni. Diction was superb all night.

Daphne was interpreted by Regine Hangler, who enacted the bewildered adolescent nymph affectingly. Her simple, often folk-like vocal lines bloomed where a Strauss soprano should bloom, like luscious fruity berries of sound bursting at the end of wordy stalks, but there was an occasional gasping for breath, notably in the final wordless vocalise of her be-tree-ing. First night jitters or perhaps insufficient support by her conductor? (The tenors suffered similar discordances.)

If there was one thing Strauss hated more than a tenor, it was two tenors, and Daphne (like Aegyptische Helena) suffers this affliction. When Botha sang the role, I never thought I’d hear Apollo truly sung and I was flabbergasted accordingly. Andreas Schager, who sings all the big Wagner roles back in Vienna, sang Apollo with lithe sound and elegant phrasing, but there were blips and bobbles and straining for top notes.

Wagner is really much gentler on his singers than Strauss, and there is no place to take cover. Still, if I hadn’t once heard it sung flawlessly, I’d account Schager’s a first-rate performance. Norbert Ernst had an easier time with the mortal but still stentorian Leukippos, Daphne’s unfortunate mortal boyfriend. He had room to glide and nothing too high to surmount.

Estonian bass Ain Anger sang Peneios graciously but Nancy Maultsby, as Gaea, rasped for attention, her earth-mother depths only intermittently effective. Two of the liveliest brief roles in all opera are Daphne’s maids (fishermen’s daughters have maids? Two maids? Two Wagnerian soprano maids?), brilliant and flavorful parts, who flirt with Leukippos and sing, with him, the equivalent of a pas de trois in some grand ballet. They were captivatingly performed by Lauren Snouffer and Anya Matanovic.

Photo: Stephanie Berger

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    Re: “…he has drawn a choice cast from the Vienna alumni.” From where did you get this information? Regine Hangler sang in three performances of a children’s opera in 2013, and has since sung only 14 performances in small roles, the most important being (ahem) Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin. Andreas Schager has never sung at Wiener Staatsoper and is not on the roster for the coming season (and I never heard of him before). The same applies to Mautlsby, Snouffer, and Matanovich.

    • Bill

      Jungfer -- Regine Hangler is apparently the cover
      for Schwanewilms as Chrysothemes in next Novembers
      Elektras in Vienna. And of course Norbert Ernst,
      Ain Anger and Ryan Speedo Green do sing in Vienna so a few of the singers are at the Staatsoper. I did see
      Regine Hangler as the Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin
      with Welser-Moest conducting last season and Hangler was actually better vocally than the ususal aging singers in Vienna who often do this role at the sunset of their careers, Judith Hellwig, Wilma Lipp. Emmy Loose, Olivera Miliakovic, Lotte Rysanek (even Welitsch).

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        Are you implying that I am “at the sunset of my career?” Hrumpf!

        • Bill

          Jungfer -- may the sun continue to set for decades

        • Well, if it is a sunset, then let it be a sunset like Rysanek’s or Olivero’s. :)

    • uwsinnyc

      “She wants wood, yes, but she wants to put a ring on it—annually.”

      That is the funniest and cleverest pun I’ve heard in a while!

      Great review--
      My only one disagreement is I would hardly call the conducting serene. Expert, yes, but it skewed mostly toward the hi-octane end.

      I loved the performance and was shocked to hear that Hangler is essentially a house/ensemble singer. She was a star to me.

      • Bill

        uwsinnyc -- in Vienna an ensemble member now
        usually is utilized in smaller roles, as a cover
        for larger roles and has a contract maybe for 2 or
        3 years. In earlier days Gundula Janowitz,
        Lucia Popp, Edita Gruberova and Elina Garanca started in this fashion.
        Now Vienna has a number of sopranos who are members of the ensemble (rather than guest artists) who are moving into larger roles and have had some success and that includes Olga Bezmertna, Chen Reiss, Valentina Nafornita, Hila Fahima, Aida Garifullina, plus a couple of upcoming Mezzos, Rachel Frenkel,
        Elena Maximova, especially Margarita Gritskova.
        Anita Hartig started as an ensemble member and with success and invitations abroad has moved to Guest Artist. After their contracts are over some of the singers re-sign, some may move to Hamburg or Berlin or Munich, a few disappear, and some become world wide stars. Hangler has been an ensemble member
        now for just two or three seasons and is just beginning her career. She may become a star eventually -- her performance as Daphne was impressive -- there is beauty in the voice and stamina. Welser-Moest has confidence in her and
        it is always helpful for a young singer to have
        a major conductor or two to help promote one’s
        career.

        • uwsinnyc

          wow. very interesting. thanks. Seems like this is a spring board for many a career.

          • Bill

            Well Ryan Speedo Green is now an ensemble
            member of the Vienna State Opera and has been given some major roles, Basilio in Barbieri
            for example -- Benjamin Bruns, a Mozart tenor, is moving up, Adrian Eroed, Adam Plachetka, Markus Eiche, and Norbert Ernst are members of the ensemble as is another upcoming soprano Daniela Fally Some singers these days just remain members of the ensemble as has Kammersaengerin Ildiko (Szabo) Raimondi.

            In the old days almost all the regular stars of the Vienna Opera were ensemble members and when they appeared elsewhere they had to be released and appear Als Gast. This changed in Vienna
            somewhat when von Karajan took over the helm
            and brought the cream of the crop from La Scala
            where singers such as di Stefano, Stella, Tebaldi, Simionato, Corelli, Bastianini, Siepi were contracted for only a few months in a season, not the entire year. This began to cause a financial scandal when a singer from La Scala singing Emilia in Otello was getting paid
            more money per performance than say Rysanek, the Desdemona, who was, as an ensemble member, expected to sing 30 or 40 performances of leading roles in one season. Now still, though, all the leading and smaller German opera houses seem to have ensemble members -- and all the
            Eastern European Opera houses still have the old Ensemble systems as their backbones. It is tougher in the USA as, aside from the Met,
            other USA opera houses do not perform 6 or 7
            days a week. Ensemble members in many European Opera houses are also entitled to full pensions after many years of loyal service.

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

              Apropos Adam Plachetka, who just turned 30: he will be the new Figaro at Salzburg this summer, and last month sang his first Wagner in concert in Prague: excerpts from “Meistersinger” and “Tannhäuser.” An ensemble member at Staatsoper since opening night in September 2010 (as Schaundard; on my Mixcloud site), he is set for Don Giovanni, the Heerrufer in “Lohengrin,” his first “Figaro” Conte, and Malatesta in the coming season.

    • Billys Butt

      Jungfer, the fact that you never heard of Schager says more about you than about him: last season he sang Parsifal in the new production premiere directed by Tcherniakov and conducted by Barenboim at Berlin Staatsoper where he also scored a huge success as Siegfried, also under Barenboim. He has already sung several roles of the heldentenor rep in leading houses, and in the business he is actually considered by many as the new hope for this fach. There is an opera world outside of Vienna, you know… ????

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        And there is an even bigger world outside of opera! I have many, many interests, and opera is not even at the top of the list.

      • chicagoing

        Adam Plachetka will also be featured in Lyric Opera’s season opening Marriage of Figaro.

  • Great review. Thanks, John!

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    As I stated in another thread, our 2004 production has been performed 20 times through 2011, and Welser-Möst never conducted it here. Botha has sung all performances as Apollo, Ricarda Merbeth and Michael Schade have sung 16 performances as Daphne and Leukippos (the other four were sung by Meagan Miller and Roberto Saccá). The conductors have been Semyon Bychkov (12 performances including the premiere), Stefan Soltesz, and Simone Young. Ain Anger is the sole performer who sang his role in “Daphne” at Staatsoper (four times in 2007).

  • Camille

    Mr Yohalem’s review is very accurate and very just. The reference to Beethoven’s Pastoral is a thoughtful one. He stole the word out of my mouth regarding Fräulein Hangler’s performance: affecting.

    More later as there are two Strauss songs which came to mind in medias res and I haven’t the time to post them now.

    P.S., Danke, Jungfer, for the reference to the Vienna Opera production—I have watched the Verwandlung scene with Ricarda Merbeth multiple times now and was very struck by her performance and taken with the entire concept as a whole.

    must run now…….!

    • Ilka Saro

      “Mr Yohalem’s review is very accurate and very just.” I can’t speak to it being “just” because I didn’t see the perf, but “blow a kiss, take a bough” is worthy of a few laurels for mot juste.

  • I think Daphne was the first role I ever heard Soile Isokoski in, years ago in concert. The only time I’ve seen Daphne staged was in Brussels.

    • PCally

      No idea Isokoski sang Daphne! Vocally I’d imagine she would just about be ideal.

      • ConcertoNet said,”La Daphne de Soile Isokoski est souveraine dans les aigus, ses vocalises sont précises, il lui manque cependant l’humanité de jeu qui redonnerait à sa voix, au timbre un peu métallique, de la douceur.” So, sovereign top notes, accurate vocalises, but lacking a degree of humanity.

        It was in 1999.

        • armerjacquino

          It was in 1999

          …and is a perfect description of every Isokoski performance before or since.

        • Buster

          I always wonder how people hear humanity in a singer? A more specific word would be welcome, especially if you accuse someone of a lack of it,

          • My fault perhaps for summing up the French too briefly. The writer says “humanité de jeu” -- humanity in her acting, saying it would “restore some softness to her voice, which has a rather metallic timbre.”

  • Daniel

    I know Renée Fleming’s name is mud ’round these parts, but I found her performance and do find the concurrent recording of the role of Daphne superb. So, with that voice in mind, it was a bit jarring at first to hear Regine Hangler’s very different take. Her voice doesn’t have the radiance and plushness one expects in a Straussian soprano part, but there was a touching directness and artlessness I ultimately found quite appealing in this interpretation, which emphasized Daphne’s innocence.

    The orchestra played splendidly, but I thought FWM could have restrained them more frequently, both for the sake of the singers and to prevent aural fatigue for the audience. He seemed very attentive to ensure that Daphne wasn’t buried, often crouching and shushing the band, but the quality of Hangler’s voice made it consistently audible over the roar. Nancy Maultsby, unfortunately, didn’t benefit from such accomodation. Give a sister a break when she’s dipping down to E-flat below middle C! The two tenors sang heroically, if a bit effortfully. But then again, neither role is a walk in the park, so kudos to them both.

    All in all, a very satisfying evening. Also satisfying to get home early on a school night!

    • PCally

      I also enjoyed Fleming, although I think the voice is a bit mature for the role and she sort of ran out of steam midway through the final scene.

    • Bill

      Daniel -- I did not find Maultsby’s voice to be that attractive in the role -- some notes yes, but she did not seem to have the very lowest range at her ready disposal. Sometimes conductors do smother a voice
      when they are not particularly sympathetic to the sound emitted -- we shall give Maultsby another try on
      Saturday but I thought she was the weakest member of the cast vocally.

      • PushedUpMezzo

        Maultsby is the go-to girl for the Omniscient Mussel in Helena and has been for quite some time. Maybe the voice is getting a bit tired of al;l those cavernous roles.

  • Will

    Toe observations re: performers of Apollo and Leukippos in this opera. The Bohm recording with Gueden, Wunderlich and King has not been mentioned to my surprise as it has always seemed to me virtually ideally cast right into the supporting roles. Wuderlich was at his height and King, so stunning in Die Frau at the MET and elsewhere sails through Apollo with little apparent, if any, problems.

    The NYCO Daphne indeed did not field particularly brilliant tenors, but I remember thinking as the performance played out on stage that things might have been improved a notch if the the two of them had been cast in each others’ role. The Apollo was truly stressed to the max in the high, heroic lines, while the Leukippos had a better top and a bit more thrust and might have made something of Apollo had he been given the part and some careful support from the pit. The NYCO Daphne has, so far, been my only chance to see the opera on stage and I am very happy for that, mediocre tenors notwithstanding.

    • I assumed, as it wasn’t mentioned, it was going without saying.

    • Bill

      Will -- I think there has been mention of the DGG
      Boehm recording of Daphne more than once -- on the other thread. It is really a definitive recording of the opera (and was recorded live actually) for Boehm conducted the premiere of the work in Dresden, Gueden was at the height of her career at the time and sings gloriously with no sense of strain, King also was probably the best Strauss tenor at the time (better than Jess Thomas methinks) with a very even voice,
      and Wunderlich was such luxurious casting that he may never be surpassed in the role. The production was in celebration in Vienna of the 100th anniversary of Strauss’ birth (at the Theater an der Wien but carried over later to the Staatsoper with the same cast) --

      I saw the City Opera production twice and recall that at the time it was thought the two tenors should have
      switched roles. But Apollo is truly tough to sing
      beautifully in any case and unless one is a Ralf,
      a King, a Botha most other tenors sound a bit
      strangulated. Andreas Schager yesterday was no embarrassment -- some notes were pinched but it was
      a very worthy attempt and he did basically manage to be heard over very heavy orchestration.

      • My take on the singers in Brussels:

        “Contrary to what I read, Birgit Remmert’s low notes (and as we all know, Gaea has plenty of those) were all perfectly audible, and Iain Paterson seemed fine to me, even thrilling at times, not the weak link some implied. (…) Thrilling too, very much so, was Eric Cutler’s impeccable, resounding Apollo, leaving Peter Lodahl somewhat in the shade through no actual fault of his own, and to some extent stealing the show from Sally Matthews. But this is a tough role and she mastered it, with a darker, fuller voice than I remembered from her Mozart and definitely all the notes, even the curious twiddly bits -- I noticed none of the intonation problems one critic claimed to have heard (but of course every performance is different: I was told Cutler cracked sometimes on the opening night). Also, again, the set played a part: Daphne was sometimes down to the side in one of the under-stair spaces, with nothing behind to push sound back into the house; when she was up on the staircase, she projected better and was thus a better match for Cutler”.

        • PushedUpMezzo

          Very much what I found at the rather bizarre, but ultimately satisfying Brussels performance. I love Sally Matthews, but her voice was masked by that enormous tree and I hope she got danger money for singing at that height. The most secure performance I have ever heard from Cutler too.

    • Krunoslav

      King in a fragment of the TV film with Wunderlich and Frick -- equally superb-- Toepper-- miscast but pretty impressive-- and Woytowicz-- not a bad voice but fundamentally miscast. was she a last minute replacement for someone- maybe Claire Watson?

      • Operngasse

        Krunoslav -- thanks for posting this short clip, I was unaware of its existence on Youtube.

        James King had a really wonderful voice, and may have been America’s greatest heldentenor to date. I always thought he should have had greater fame than he did.

        • Bill

          Operngasse -- I rather think that James King
          DID have considerable fame. He was utilized by
          important conductors and had impressive engagements throughout his career. And this during a time when we had Vickers, Konya, Jess Thomas, Jerusalem, Peter Hoffmann, Wenkoff, Kollo, McCracken and others. King sang Bacchus 71 times in Vienna over a 28 year span and who else ever did that ?

          • armerjacquino

            Siegmund on the most famous Ring recording of them all, two studio Florestans, a studio Lohengrin, Bacchus on CD and on a famous DVD, Parsifal at Bayreuth released on CD, the Emperor on everyone’s ‘library’ recording of Frau… it’s hard to see how a tenor in his fach could have left more of a legacy.

            • I agree. It’s a shame that his Bacchus on the video with Jessye is rather late-career but he still copes with the strenuous music expertly. He was in slightly fresher voice a couple of years earlier at Covent Garden (with Jessye and a much better Battle than the one at the Met). And one day, I hope, someone will release a proper recording of that.

              Bill is quite right that, during his prime years, it was relatively crowded field.

  • Will

    Some day, I really need to learn to type--apologies for toe instead of two, etc.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The ultimate party Turandot!!

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      oops! sorry

      • DonCarloFanatic

        That was fantastic. It’s good to know that some people sing even worse than I do.

        • Milady DeWinter

          And it’s refreshing to see a Turandot Act I not loaded with meaningless gyrations a la chinois.

    • Rudolf

      @ Quanto Painy Fakor
      Oyvey!!! :-) Tanto pene, indeed. Thank Goodness for the scene stealing executioner(s). Much more attractive than the combined forces of Turandot and Calaf. Even the Emperor is more interesting.

  • Often admonished

    so there, Calixo

    • Often admonished
    • Batty Masetto

      Tragic. Brought tears to my eyes. Pass the tartar sauce.

    • manou

      Caruso was a tenor, not a bass.

  • Patrick Mack

    Mr. Yohalem, I thoroughly enjoyed this review. It was teeming with musical and arcadian imagery of a most abundant and appropriate nature. Very skillfully written. The word for the day is rumbustious. Rumbustious.

    • manou

      …not to mention rambunctious.

  • Chanterelle

    Elegant, John.

    From my seat up front it was a good bet that Apollo was unlikely to make it through in one piece. We dubbed him the Kamikaze Tenor.

    Overall a very good evening, even after FWM gave up and simply beat time for the ending. You can’t stop the Clevelanders from making music, no matter who’s standing in front of them.

  • Camille

    Gesang der Apollopriesterin:

    Came to mind midway through the Daphne the other night, as well as

    Frühlingsfeier:

    Also, a little late but for those contemplating tonight’s performance maybe this will help:
    http://www.pov.bc.ca/pdfs/daphne_study_guide.pdf

    a good guide to the opera

    I thought Schager would make an excellent Loge, à la Jerusalem, and was a little surprised to see on Operabase that he really does do a LOT of Tristan, Parsifal, Siegfried—but that is there and this is here und so weiter.

    • le cerf agile

      Two movements from Strauss’s Die Tagezeiten (1924, making it early late Strauss?) also come to mind when I hear Daphne:

      and especially:

      • le cerf agile

        * Tageszeiten. Entschuldigung, bitte!

  • parpignol

    gorgeous performance of Daphne tonight; imagine how it would have sounded in Carnegie. . .

    • Camille

      It is the first performance of an opera in some time now that has actually brought tears to my eyes by the opera’s culmination. It hardly ever happens to me anymore so was surprised and so grateful to have heard it again as I did not plan to, but the protagonist had grown and had more confidence than on opening night. Yes, Carnegie would have been ideal but they still did manage well in the AF Hall.

      Richard Strauss’s tribute to the exquisite, otherworldly statue of Apollo and Daphne, by Bernini--which apparently inspired so much as to make him think of writing an opera on the subject .or was an impetus in that direction--is one that comes close to equaling its supernal beauty. He made a mighty effort at the end to achieve that.

      • Buster

        Glad you loved it, Camille, and thanks a lot for the links and the two Strauss songs. it is on my schedule next season (with the excellent Agneta Eichenholz) so they will come in handy by then.

        • Feldmarschallin
          • Buster

            Thanks, FM. I was just thinking what you and PCally thought. A pity about the conductor. Enjoy the Schwanewilms recital tonight -- at the Cuvilliés, I saw, how wonderful!

            • Feldmarschallin

              Yes thanks and hope the heat doesn’t affect her. Already 37 here and it will feel like a furnace inside that old theater. Herlitzius was not well for the first Elektra but it was an amazing evening. OK going to rest a bit now since I have a guest coming this afternoon and then we are heading to see Schwanewilms. Cheesecake is already made and cooling. BTW Evelyn will be doing Ortrud here in the next few seasons. And no, Harteros is not the Elsa :(

            • Lohengrin

              May be they appear in Scala-Lohengrin at Bastille in 16/17…………

            • PCally

              Buster I thought it was overall an excellent performance and that all three women are probably the current best in their roles. The production, which has been around for almost two decades, is VERY static and as such I don’t think it was really an ideal showcase for Herlitizus who, as I’ve said before, I find a bit to general when left to her own devices. She also took forever to warm up. But Elektra is still probably her finest role. Meier has more or less-redefined the possibilities of the role (I cannot think of a single singer who performs the role in a similar fashion) and she was able to make the most of the productions limited opportunities. Unfortunately the role lies almost squarely in the spot where her voice no longer functions properly, though, like Herlitzius, once she warmed up a bit she managed to make a positive impression. Pieczonka is born to the Strauss repertoire and while she lacks the physical glamour (and some of the vocal glamour of Schwanewilms one of my current favorites, though not as Chrysothemis) she is technically the superior singer and even more physically committed. She also is among the most human in the role I’ve ever seen (they tend to be crazier than Elektra). Fisch was overwhelmingly dull and the men were exceptionally unmemorable.

            • Buster

              The Munich and Paris Lohengrins will all with Netrebko, not?

            • Buster

              Thanks for the report, PCally. There is a video of the production, with Linda Watson. The fragments I saw of that looked rather dull indeed. Weird outfits.

            • Lohengrin

              Dont think so, Jonas and Anna?? I suppose,the whole Milano cast will appear in Paris.

            • PCally

              Buster, I’ve seen that dvd and I didn’t really have a serious problem with the production per se. It’s an aesthetically attractive production and there are effective moments. But it’s obviously a production designed for a stand-and-deliver Elektra (Watson, Schnaut etc…) and a lunatic Klytemnestra (Henschal). I don’t think Herlitizus, for all her unflagging commitment, is a genius enough interpreter to fully overcome being left totally to her own devices. Meier is.

      • Bill

        Camille -- agree with you after the 2nd Daphne.
        I doubt that anything the Met has on tap for
        2015-16 will be as sonorously played as these two
        Daphnes with the Cleveland Orchestra (unless
        the new Elektra at the Met is stupendous. The second Daphne at Lincoln Center was a bit less well
        attended than the first (Saturday night -- weekend and hot and humid outside) but the audience reaction at the end was just as fervent and heartfelt with lengthy applause and copious (and well earned) Bravos. There were many faces one
        had seen at the first of the two NYC performances in the audience who came back again -- and rightly so. A splendid evening of luminous sound.

      • skoc211

        Seconded. I haven’t been that floored by an opera in sometime. My friend who joined me and had never heard Strauss before was speechless. What a pity it was so undersold -- I don’t think the third tier was even open.