Cher Public

You know what Venus did to Adonis

Born on this day (assumed) in 1564 playwright and poet William Shakespeare

On this day in 1775 Mozart’s Il re pastore premiered in Salzburg.

Born on this day in 1857 composer Ruggero Leoncavallo.

  • Antikitschychick

    Good even,

    I hope you’re all having a pleasant Sunday! I attended the final dress rehearsal for The Flying Dutchman on Friday at the Met thanks to the ever-fabulous and generous Marshie and it was absolutely sublime. This is a definite must-see and I would encourage all of you who can go see it live to do so, or to listen to a broadcast at least. It will be thrilling and I expect (or at least hope) that the Met will have a big success with this run.

    I wasn’t as familiar with this opera as much the later ones Wagner wrote, though I have to say I loved it. It amazes me that he wrote this opera at my age (28!). I loved the text of the opera (very romantic and Goetheian; the idea of the female savior is interesting and one I wish to explore more) and the music I found enthralling and very exciting, especially the final scene/act. First and foremost, kudos to Yannick Nezet-Seguin who I thought did an amazing job conducting. The overture was really fantastic and throughout the performance there was so much dynamism and energy and the tempi were perfect: so much so there wasn’t a single synchronization issue between the singers (including the chorus) and the orchestra unlike in almost all of the other performances I’ve seen (except Idemeneo which was also musically sublime). Michael Volle was really great as the Dutchman, with a large imposing base-baritone voice he used to great effect, especially in the first and last scenes/acts. I did think his voice/vibrato spread a bit too much in parts, particularly when he attempted to sing softly and use a different color in his voice, but overall he was very expressive and gave a moving portrayal of the tortured Dutchman.

    Most impressive though was Amber Wagner in the role of Senta. Imho she is the star attraction of this. She was absolutely **mind-blowing** . If she sings on Monday like how she sang on Friday it will be a huge success for her, especially considering that this is such a killer role and she sings it with such ease!! I was floored by how well she coped with those treacherous ascending lines, which kept getting higher and higher. Plus, her voice is just made for Wagner. It’s a bright metallic voice that she projects beautifully?, with a full even range from top to bottom, a very rich middle and high notes that soar with ease. She’s also passionate and a compelling actress. She’s very energetic and very light on her feet and that big leap into the ocean at the end (she does literally jump off the stage, and it’s a high jump!) is fierce! I cheered very loudly for her and can’t wait to hear her as Isolde, Leonora in Fidelio, etc…

    The men of the chorus also sounded great (the women less so; the overall sound is a bit worn/dry and shrill) and I also liked the production. It’s very dark and, well Goth(eian) but works well if the principals are compelling. Ben Bliss, Franz-Josef Selig and Dolora Zajick were ok. Ben Bliss has a pleasant, even tenor voice but it’s a size too small for this role and production. Selig was convincing in the role of the Sea Captain slash pimp daddy, with a large imposing basso voice with a pleasant timbre, though he had a noticeable wobble which made him sound old and a bit bland, especially in Act II. Zajick may have been been marking as I recall a much larger voice when I saw her as Azucena in Trovatore last season, though perhaps her voice has diminished somewhat. She only sang a few lines though so it’s hard to tell, plus this role is supposed to be for a contralto and she’s a mezzo. But at least she had fun rolling around on that wheelchair.

    I was less impressed with AJ Glueckert as Erik though perhaps nerves got the best of him. He unfortunately started out sounding flat and constricted, with a much smaller voice than the other principals, (except Ben Bliss), and he also looked a bit uncomfortable, though he sounded much better in the last act when he had fully warmed up, and it’s a small role so it didn’t diminish the overall performance too much I don’t think. I do hope he is better at the premier and I wish him luck. Certainly it’s a lot of pressure and since this was a rehearsal I can understand that he may not have been at his best, and kudos to him for stepping in on short notice.

    But seriously, anyone who can go see this should! It is really worth it especially since there won’t be an HD (though I think there should be!). Oh and they did the one act version without any breaks or intermissions which I thought worked well. Kudos to the Met for putting together such a well-cast Dutchman (yes it’s a shame that Jay Hunter Morris cancelled, but, as a wise man once said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”). ;-)

    • aulus agerius

      I think Erik must be a treacherous role; the one time [not true: I also saw it with Stemme in the bumblebee production during the Rosenberg regime at SFO] I have seen the opera [with MTT, Delavan, Eaglan, Cutler (!)] the Erik canceled and there was a disappointing last minute substitute. I saw Zajick a couple of weeks ago in Turn of the Screw and she sounded Yuge to me! Course it’s a chamber orchestra to sing against. And the range! Astonishing. Amber Wagner I made a point of seeing sing Ariadne in WPB last year and I was not impressed. Actually I was disappointed that I had sacrificed hearing Brian Jagde sing Bacchus the following performance in order to hear Amber and a distinctly struggling tenor. BTW many people found Alexey Dolgov worthy as Lensky yesterday. I heard him a few yrs ago in Houston sing Bacchus (with Goerke) and he blew me away -- he actually sang it, all the notes,lyrically, instead of shouting it. Curiously the recording doesn’t necessarily support that notion but that’s definitely what I felt in the house.

      • Antikitschychick

        Erik does sound like a difficult role; it’s high and declamatory, and though I haven’t looked at the score I’d say it sounds like it lies the tenor passagio area…so no walk in the park (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong though).

        Sorry to hear you weren’t impressed with Amber Wagner in Ariadne. That’s a bummer. Perhaps she was having an off night or the role didn’t suit her as well as this one did, although I saw this clip on YouTube and thought she sounded very good, save for a couple of glottal attacks.:

        I’m actually not that familiar with Alexey Dolgov and I haven’t seen the Onegin HD so I will withold judgment. I’m catching the encore on Wednesday with friends and am really excited since I adore that opera. The other Alexey I was not impressed with in the past was Dolgov. I saw him as Germont with Yoncheva in Traviata two seasons ago and was very disappointed although I heard he was good in Ernani and I know people liked him in Iolanta last season(?). Chacun a son gout I guess.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V42UEMhTCc4

        • Liz.S

          Your Alexei must be Markov (baritone) no? He’s a beautiful voice but I’m not too crazy about him either.
          I’m so happy to read you had a wonderful time!

          there wasn’t a single synchronization issue between the singers (including the chorus) and the orchestra unlike in almost all of the other performances I’ve seen

          This is one of the most peculiar thing about the Met -- a mystery which I hope someday somebody can shed some light for me. There is a person in the prompter box who stretches out his/her arms to conduct when a chorus comes out. I don’t know if it’s a prompter or a chorus master and I can’t tell if it’s always the case but I witnessed it almost every time when I sit where I can see the prompter box (and almost every time there are slight synch issues when it happens.)
          There are many video screens of the conductor in the pit that you can reference on both side of the walls and I really don’t understand the benefit of the secondary conducting, that can easily brings about synchronization issues…

          • aulus agerius

            Union position, perhaps, and thus protected.

            • Liz.S

              They have an option to let her/him focus on other responsibilities of her/his line of duty, no? Having two captains at the same time is a risk of non-synchronization in any situation for anybody’s eyes.
              What I wonder really is what is the justification from musical or artistic point of view to continue this seemingly unreasonable habit. If the screens showing the conductor in the pit on the walls are not effective enough, can they invest in better visual?

              After I noticed what was going on in the prompter’s box, I stopped questioning small synchronization issues at the Met esp. for young infrequent guest conductors. If this has to be done that way at the Met, I’m not sure if it’s fair to compare conductors’ abilities from that point of view -- esp. if it depends on the degree of whoever-is-doing-the-secondary-conducting’s familiarity of what is expected from the particular conductor in the pit

          • Antikitschychick

            Thank you and yes that is indeed who I was referring to. I don’t know why I typed Dolgov twice lol. Sorry! I’ll fix it right now.

          • Antikitschychick

            what aulius says may very well be true. My guess is also that because it’s such a big house they really feel like they need the chorus master to help out if the chorus can’t see the conductor…and my other theory (re: the synch issues) is that perhaps the chorus rehearses with certain specific tempos with the chorus master which they become accustomed to and then get a bit thrown off if the conductor changes the tempo during the performance. In other words lack of rehearsal with the right tempos. But your guess is as good as mine.

            • MisterSnow

              This is certainly a possibility. I have sung in many symphony choruses and several opera choruses. It is a real problem with the conductor and concert master don’t communicate well in advance. When the chorus has to suddenly “shift gears” at the last minute from how they have been prepared by the chorus master, it is a real problem. I had one case when we spent weeks with a chorus master who insisted that we pronounce the final “T” in Turandot. When the conductor arrived for the sitzprobe, he insisted we change to the silent T. I don’t know that we ever all got that right. I worked once with a choral conductor who had prepared choruses for Messiah for many famous conductors. His score was full or color coded markings (a different color for each conductor) so he knew what to prepare for each different conductor (tempo, articulations, phrasing, rhythms, etc.)

            • Antikitschychick

              Thank you for providing those detailed anecdotes which support my theory/suspicion lol and just to be clear I didn’t intend to insinuate any lack of professionalism on anyone’s part, it’s just that, sometimes for various reasons rehearsal time can be limited and conductors do have the option of changing things on a whim. I’m just thankful that I was able to witness a performance without incident, because it really is a miracle given how difficult and complicated and large-scale opera usually is, especially at the Met.

      • Kullervo

        I have yet to hear a tenor sound anything better than ‘bearable’ as Erik -- however it should also be noted that it’s often given to a B quality singer (sort of like Pollione).

        Sorry to hear that AJ didn’t go over so well when you saw him -- I actually think he is quite good (if I’m being perfectly honest I consider him an upgrade to JHM -- especially in a role like Erik that sits so high). Hopefully it is more of a nerves thing and he will improve. In any event, in the best of circumstances he was never going to make a splash in this role -- it’s beyond thankless.

        • loveopera

          Jorma Silvasti made an excellent Erik at Bayreuth. The entire performance is electrifying mostly because of the Senta of Cheryl Studer. Link below.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWJfRmA2YJc

        • Bill

          Not really so -- some Eriks have certainly held their own -- Konya for example and King, Botha, Windgassen and Kmennt. Plus I thought Hepner was fine. It may not be a grateful role in that one goes to hear
          the conductor, the Senta, the Hollaender and yes even the Daland and pays little attention to the casting of the Erik.

          • Kullervo

            Certainly King, Konya and Windgassen were exceptional, world class singers but we are reaching back 50 years when discussing them so they do not quite disprove the rule so much that they are notable exceptions.

  • aulus agerius

    I think Erik must be a treacherous role; the one time I’ve seen the opera [with MTT, Delavan, Eaglan, Cutler (!)] the Erik canceled and their was a disappointing last minute substitute. I saw Zajick a couple of weeks ago in Turn of the Screw and she sounded Yuge to me! Course it’s a chamber orchestra to sing against. And the range! Astonishing. Amber Wagner I made a point of seeing sing Ariadne in WPB last year and I was not impressed. Actually I was disappointed that I had sacrificed hearing Brian Jagde sing Bacchus the following performance in order to hear Amber and a distinctly struggling tenor. BTW many people found Alexey Dolgov worthy as Lensky yesterday. I heard him a few yrs ago in Houston sing Bacchus (with Goerke) and he blew me away -- he actually sang it, lyrically, instead of shouting it. Curiously the recording doesn’t necessarily support that notion but that’s definitely what I felt in the house.