Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Met Ring: Die Walküre

The Metropolitan Opera
Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 6:30 pm

Die Walküre

Conductor: James Levine
Brünnhilde: Katarina Dalayman
Sieglinde: Adrianne Pieczonka
Fricka: Yvonne Naef
Siegmund: Plácido Domingo
Wotan: Albert Dohmen
Hunding: René Pape

Production: Otto Schenk

This was a considerable upgrade from the previous night, starting with the stunning Domingo, whose singing was vibrant, strong &, most importantly, heroic. I was completely startled by the power & emotion of his first utterance, & he maintained that level of involvement for the entire role. I had no expectation he would sound that good. His acting was equally impressive, & he moved easily & convincingly around the stage.

I found Levine & the orchestra much more interesting this evening as well, despite some unfortunate brass bloopers. The strings played vigorously & beautifully in the 1st act. It was great fun to watch the wildly swinging bow arms in the viola section when they did those arpeggios near the end of the act. Levine sometimes held the orchestra down, allowing the singers to provide us some wonderfully quiet moments, especially in the final scene between Brünnhilde & Wotan.

I continued to be confounded by the lack of directorial ideas. The rocky landscapes started to look suspiciously similar. The gray costumes & dim lighting sometimes made it hard to tell the characters apart. In Act III the Valkyries remained steadfastly earth-bound, & one of them even fell flat on her face while running downstage. Brünnhilde went to sleep under a rather scrawny tree at the side of the stage. There was a good stage spectacle in the final moments, however, as the fire surrounded the Valkyrie Rock.

The cast were all fine. The deep-voiced Dohmen remained strong throughout, & it was clear from her 1st entrance that Dalayman would be a reliable Brünnhilde. One of the lower-voiced Valkyries had an especially powerful sound, much apparent when she entered during one of the ensemble passages. In my memory, though, this night will be dominated by Domingo's fine performance, intense & warm. I left the theater feeling that if this was the best thing I heard all week, the trip was worth it.

In the following week's performance Domingo was replaced during Act I, so I may have been lucky enough to hear him in his last complete performance of this role at the Met.

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