Cher Public

Chat: L’amour de loin

dot-lamourNear, far, wherever you are, you can enjoy today’s 1:00 PM Met broadcast of L’Amour de Loin in the company of other denizens of La Casa della Cieca.

  • steveac10

    Not well attended in my neck of the woods, which is sad because two of the three leads being miscast, this was a lovely way to spend a chilly December afternoon. Owens gave it the college try, but his earnestness couldn’t overcome the fact this role was too high and too lyric for his Bayreuth barky bass baritone. Phillips never emitted an unattractive sound, and seemed to have grasped the style -- but her emotional and vocal range ran the gamut from mildly flattered to slightly peeved. Her performance was as blandly attractive as her generically pretty face. I thought (and based on the live audience reactions they agreed) Mumford walked away this performance. Not only was the voice luscious from its wine colored depths to the fluttery Troyano-ish top, she was in full command of every trill and turn. Plus, I could not take my eyes off of her anytime she was onstage, She demands your attention.

    The production itself is amazing. Period. The opening of act two was worth the price of admission on its own,

    • I was at the MET today for the performance. I was struck by the “ocean” whose rhythms seemed to pictorialize the music. The house was close to full if not sold out and there were some but very few departures at intermission. The piece is mesmerizing. The reception for the creators and cast was tremendous.

      One comment that friends of mine who were in the house and I had was that the cast did not seem to have been offered, or to have availed themselves of, the MET’s French diction coach.

      • Gualtier Maldè

        Denise Massé is credited as the French diction coach.

        • manou

          Denise Massé is passé -- Beethoven would have done better.

  • rapt

    I agree that the French was deplorable and that Mumford was terrific. I thought Owens did a fine job in his moving death scene. I wondered how much of the limitation of Phillips’s performance was the fault of the libretto (and both libretto and its setting in her peroration, which I found the weakest part of the opera). Maybe a singer with more charisma could have made something of that peroration despite the weak text and lack of something new in the music, but the effort in that long scene after Jaufre’s touching death to depict a character change in Clemence (from her teenager superficiality, which had worked in a way though I didn’t find it very compelling) and a deepening of the story’s meaning just did not work for me.

  • Dennis

    I noticed in close ups at the HD today that both Eric Owens and Tamara Mumford were apparently wearing body mics and it appeared that Owens was also wearing some sort of device in his left ear at least in Act I. Is this standard procedure for HD’s and I never noticed before or was there something special going on? It also appeared that there were large stacks of speakers on either side of the stage. Anyone else notice this and what did you make of it?

    • DonCarloFanatic

      I’ve seen many body mics in streaming opera, although more typically in European performances. Peter Mattei ripped one off in a Don Giovanni--was it the Met’s production or someone else’s? I can’t recall right now.

      • Porgy Amor

        Possibly Carsen/La Scala, with Terfel, Trebs, and Frittoli? That was given a cinema broadcast when new in 2011.

        I wish I could say I enjoyed the L’amour de loin HD Saturday afternoon, but I felt Mumford was the only performer who really was giving this music and this sort of drama what it needed, and that Lepage’s production was as lame-brained as his Ring. It will get by with respectful notices because this is not a work with a storied history yet. He does not need to compete with anyone’s memories of Wieland Wagner, Friedrich, Chéreau, Kupfer, et al. Much of it, I felt, was risible as theater.

      • Cameron Kelsall

        The body mics are for the telecast and have no amplifying effect in house.

    • nachtEule

      Mics are so the remote audience can hear the performance — analogous to cameras, which enable the remote audience to see it.

    • dumuzi

      The score uses electronics -- could it be possible that the mics feed into a live electronic mix? I was thinking the mics were only for the Live in HD transmission as well, but then thought this could also be a possibility.

      • spiderman

        no live electornic mixing. the electronics are tapes from IRCAM, Paris, that are used for the acoustic atmosphere. Voices are not mixed or altered, however, as I wrote before, the score gives the possibility to amplify the voices if the balance is not good enough.

        • dumuzi

          Hmmmm, correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t remember ever seeing mics on Live in HD performers before. In which case, if the singers are indeed amplified at every performance, could this be a first? I remember the outrage with which many greeted the news that NYCO was introducing an electronic sound enhancement system across the plaza -- which was dismissed by the naysayers as a euphemism for amplification. Their vehemence seemed to have prevailed, since it was never realized. Fascinating if Saariaho’s recommendation in her score was followed, and she has thereby opened yet another door to the Met -- in this case for amplification systems that are faithful to the nature of the work.

          • La Cieca

            Calm down. You didn’t see the mics because you’re not supposed to see the mics: they are carefully hidden in wigs and the wires snaked into necklines so they don’t distract on the big screen.

          • Williams

            The NYCO “sound enhancement” experiment lasted more than one season as I recall. The Met has openly used amplification in at least two shows (Dr. Atomic & Nixon in China) per the direction of the composer.

            • dumuzi

              Thanks, Williams. The first opera with amplified electronics that I experienced was Donnerstag aus Licht at Covent Garden in 1985 with Stockhausen himself as sound projectionist, then there was The Mask of Orpheus at the Coli in 1986. Both were fantastic -- so sorry La Cieca, but I’m afraid I just can’t calm down, the prospect of these kinds of expansive compositions finally coming to the Met is just too damn exciting. Although now Pierre Audi is at the Park Avenue Armory, I might well be able to follow La Cieca’s instructions and divert my enthusiasm elsewhere…

        • I think La Monnaie is currently subtly miking performances in an attempt to improve the acoustics of its temporary tent.

  • spiderman

    As I have worked on a production of L’amour de loin and learned to love the piece (and the libretto, which is simple but very poetic) I couln’d miss this MET HD (my first one). I thought the set to be wonderful, although elements like the birds and Clemence swiming like a fish cheesy. And seriously: you build a very stylized sea and viewpoint and then you take a realistic lute as a prop? Looked very strange. As well as the costumes. And as great as the set was: Lepage didn’t have a lot of ideas concerning direction of the characters, exploring there depth. We didn’t even realize that the pilgrim feels seasick on the travel at first.
    Musically it was beautiful, espescially the orchestra with Susanna Mälkki and the Met choris, although one heard a few wobbly female voices.
    I like Susanna Phillips a deal more than everbody on here. She didn’t go out of her comfort zone as Clemence doesn’t go higher than b flat, maybe one b. She was very clever using french for interesting expression in the lines but couldn’t quite manage tha transcendental change in the end. Eric Owens was miscast and overparted and transposed at at least one occasion. He and Phillips together just didn’t work. Mumford was very good in the scenes with Jaufré when the tessitura is lower as when the Pilgrim is speaking to Clemence. Unfortunately she ran out of steam in the second vers of her song in act 2. I was surprised that she sounds very limited on top. Oh, kudos to her that she saved act 3 when Owens missed a hole passage after making an entrance bummer herself. (Oh, does everybody know already that learning L’amour de loin is among the f**** hardest things in the world. It is … ;) )
    Despite the restraints I enjoyed seeing this beautiful opera in a MET HD.

    PS: Miking singing is noted as a possibility in the score. Maybe that’s the reason although I rather think it has something to do with cathing the voices properly for the transmission

  • Rowna Sutin

    I went to the HD. I was really torn. So glad I did. httpv//

  • ducadiposa

    Always interesting how different eyes can experience the exact same thing in such different ways. I went to the HD having taken a good 3 year sabbatical from these things -- just worn out from all the insipid interviews and the dogged pursuit of the all-important close-up. Actually thought this one not so bad on that front -- thank goodness the video director gave us plenty of long shots of the fantastic L.E.D. light show Lepage and this team put together. I’ve seen this opera live in Toronto a few seasons back in the E.N.O. production which used doubles and had plenty of razzmatazz acrobatics (aerial artists etc.) I quite liked Lepage’s quieter approach that let the piece speak for itself for the most part. I had a very different take on Phillips from some of the others here -- found her extremely moving in the finale -- she really connected with the somewhat opaque, abstract text at this pivotal moment for Clemence. Can’t really see how anyone didn’t think she was giving her vocal and emotional ‘all’ -- not just at this point, but all the way through. I mean for goodness sake, she was shedding actual tears more than once…always dangerous for a singer! As far as their French diction goes -- all three were excellent throughout, a couple of mispronounced vowels on Owens’ part aside. But really, for three Americans I thought the level of diction was very high. This was one of the most satisfying MET HDs I’ve attended -- and I make that distinction as seeing the same production, live, can be a different thing, especially in terms of voice projection. But still, I’m really glad I broke my HD ‘fast’ for this one. Now I’m inspired to see at least a couple others this season -- the Rusalka, simply because I love the piece and will be interested to see what Zimmermann does with it [hopefully it will inspire her and we don’t get another Armida debacle :)] plus the Rosenkavalier just ’cause….

  • Donna Annina

    We were in the house and were very, very glad we were. Phillips and Mumford were wonderful; Owens not so much. Gerald Finley originated the role and sang it with such expression and impeccable French. The orchestra was terrific--as someone stated earlier, the sea is an unnamed character and the orchestral textures rendered it a living presence. The lights and lighting were very effective. Yes, there were very few empty seats and no one left up in the nosebleed where we were sitting.