Shirley Fleming in the New York Post:
The new production by Elijah Moshinsky, which opened Thursday, assembled a threesome hard to beat – Jessye Norman in the title role, Ruth Ann Swenson as Zerbinetta, Susanne Mentzer as The Composer. They riveted the eye and the ear.
The Composer, who passes through various critical states of mind on “his” way to despair, was forcefully projected by Mentzer, whose mezzo retained its fullness and glow in all but the most stressful notes at the top. She made a sympathetic figure in her dismay, a character of human dimension amid all the nonsense with which Strauss surrounds her. To Swenson, delightfully flirtatious, fell one of the most notoriously difficult arias in the lyric soprano canon, and she pirouetted through its high-wire acrobatics with never a false step. The bright, focused agility of the voice seemed made for this part.
As for Norman, she rode the surging contours of Strauss’s luxuriant vocal line with all the power and luster for which she is famous. Ariadne’s trance-like mood simply clears the deck, so to speak, for pure singing; Norman captured the grief and joy in seamless streams of rich vocalism.
Thomas Moser, making his Met debut in the role of Bacchus, displayed a strong tenor that held its own opposite Norman in the opera’s long closing episode. The lighter men’s roles were in good hands, with Mark Oswald an attractive Harlekin and Thomas Stewart an imposing Music Master. The trio of nymphs – Joyce Guyer, Jane Bunnell, and Korliss Uecker – were perfection. Conductor Ion Marin kept them all in order and well paced.
On this day in 1985 Giuseppe Sinopoli made his Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Tosca.
On this day in 1851 Verdi’s Rigoletto premiered in Venice; on this day in 1867 his Don Carlos premiered in Paris.
Birthday anniversaries of poet and playwright Torquato Tasso (1544), composers Carl Ruggles (1876), Henry Cowell (1897) and Xavier Montsalvatge (1912), baritone Zdenek Otava (1902) and designer and director Beni Montresor (1926).
Happy 80th birthday mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker.