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Thread: At Home with the Met

  1. #16
    Senior Member Helgi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by interestedin View Post
    So many options indeed!

    Tomorrow München offers the Petrenko-Kaufmann Parsifal

    https://www.staatsoper.de/spielplan/...lan/alles.html
    Well, that's my first Wagner opera — finally. I stayed up late, glued to the screen for four hours straight.

    Plan on watching Tannhäuser tomorrow night at the Met.

    The Bayerische Staatsoper Parsifal is available until 11. April, for those interested: https://operlive.de/parsifal/

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  3. #17
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Gotterdammerung is the dramatic and musical climax of the Ring, and I have to say that in the Met's 2012 production it was a worthy climax. The streamed performance came across as so dedicated on the part of all concerned that I found myself barely noticing the vocal faults of the cast, or at least rarely distracted by them. This opera is in itself an awesome achievement of Wagner's maturity, absorbing all the musical lessons of the previous Ring operas and of Tristan and Meistersinger as well. There isn't an uninspired moment in it, and the performers seemed constantly inspired as they set it forth. The production itself made excellent use of "the machine," which works quite well for the Gibichung hall. By this point in the cycle I was used to it and no longer thought about the basic incongruity between hard-edged planks and the forms of nature. The most delightful touch of all was the life-sized mechanical Grane, who had a moving head and with whom Siegfried and Brunnhilde communicated affectionately as if it were a real horse. He rode with Siegfried down the Rhine, and he bore Brunnhilde into the funeral pyre. Unlikely as it seems, I bought him completely and wanted to give him a carrot.

    All the singers were at least adequate except, sadly, Waltraud Meier in the role of Waltraute, whose acting couldn't compensate for thin tone and weakness both high and low; the part needs a contralto or a mezzo with a solid chest voice, and she sounded like a second-rate soprano with a constricted range. Hans-Peter Konig brought a powerful, dark bass to Hagen as he had to Hunding and Fafner, Iain Paterson effectively conveyed Gunther's weakness of character, and Wendy Bryn Harmer was a very attractive and sympathetic Gutrune. The Norns were not outstanding - the first Norn should idally be a deep contralto, not a mezzo with a weakish bottom (where are the chest tones, ladies?) - but the Rhinemaidens were lovely. Deborah Voigt and Jay Hunter Morris both transcended their vocal limitations with strong characterizations; as he had in Siegfried, Morris made Siegfried genuinely likable, effectively communicating his innocence and unpreparedness to deal with the deceiving world, and his death was heart-breakingly sad. Fabio Luisi's conducting missed little in the huge, complex score; I thought his tempi well-judged throughout.

    My only major reservation about this production was the drab staging of the ending and, more important, the concept behind it. Wagner specifically says that as the flames seize on Walhall in the heavens, the people assembled at the Gibichung hall watch in great agitation, and the curtain falls as the gods are completely hidden by the fire. There were no onlookers here, and even as the Walhall motif mounted powerfully in the orchestra, we saw nothing more dramatic than a few statues of the gods vanishing in a sort of rosy fog. This quickly transformed back into the strip of blue light we saw at the opening of Das Rheingold, implying that the whole drama was for naught and brought about no apparent change in the world order. Wagner implies that the world is now left to humanity without the gods to intervene in the course of things, which is a much more interesting message than the mere closing of a cycle in time.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Yesterday at 08:13.

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  5. #18
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Levine's Meisterisnger today! Watched some excerpts and I'm already excited to see the whole production .

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  7. #19
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    I loved Siegfried because Jay Hunter Morris is such a gorgeous Siegfried and really throws himself into the part. Woodduck had a great take on this. It seems like often we are stuck with non Wagnerian voices in Wagner today because the right voices are so very very scarce now. I had more problems enjoying Gotterdammerung because the Bayreuth version with Jones in great voice is so great to me. I am very much looking forward to Norma.

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  9. #20
    Senior Member WildThing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    Levine's Meisterisnger today! Watched some excerpts and I'm already excited to see the whole production .
    Watched this last night. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to introduce my wife to Wagner and invited her to watch it with me. It didn't disappoint. My wife thoroughly enjoyed the work -- the fully realized and engaging characters, the pathos and the humor in depicting how people can face the disturbing irrationalities of life and societal expectations and still live lives which are deeply rewarding and worthwhile, and of course the beautiful score and mesmerizing orchestration. Overall it was a really solid performance musically and committed, believable acting all around -- Johannes Martin Kranzle especially being a standout in both departments. I was never overly fond of Otto Schneck's Ring, but this Meistersinger production is absolutely charming, a real classic.

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  11. #21
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    Watched this last night. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to introduce my wife to Wagner and invited her to watch it with me. It didn't disappoint. My wife thoroughly enjoyed the work -- the fully realized and engaging characters, the pathos and the humor in depicting how people can face the disturbing irrationalities of life and societal expectations and still live lives which are deeply rewarding and worthwhile, and of course the beautiful score and mesmerizing orchestration. Overall it was a really solid performance musically and committed, believable acting all around -- Johannes Martin Kranzle especially being a standout in both departments. I was never overly fond of Otto Schneck's Ring, but this Meistersinger production is absolutely charming, a real classic.
    I think the weight loss allowed Voigt to become more comfortable acting. Her voice was better before but she is more involved as an actress now, and that does count for something.

  12. #22
    Senior Member WildThing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I think the weight loss allowed Voigt to become more comfortable acting. Her voice was better before but she is more involved as an actress now, and that does count for something.
    Hmm, I think you may have misread my post -- my comments were in reference to the production of Die Meistersinger from 2014 now available on the Met website. Though I don't completely disagree with you about Voigt.

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  14. #23
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    Hmm, I think you may have misread my post -- my comments were in reference to the production of Die Meistersinger from 2014 now available on the Met website. Though I don't completely disagree with you about Voigt.
    I have the same production with a different cast on DVD. The problem is the hugely overweight Walther - can this be taken seriously as a dramatic young hero? I think I mentioned elsewhere I watched parts of Gotterdamerung and found the production imaginative although the cast variable.
    Last edited by DavidA; Yesterday at 18:13.

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  16. #24
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    Watched this last night. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to introduce my wife to Wagner and invited her to watch it with me. It didn't disappoint. My wife thoroughly enjoyed the work -- the fully realized and engaging characters, the pathos and the humor in depicting how people can face the disturbing irrationalities of life and societal expectations and still live lives which are deeply rewarding and worthwhile, and of course the beautiful score and mesmerizing orchestration. Overall it was a really solid performance musically and committed, believable acting all around -- Johannes Martin Kranzle especially being a standout in both departments. I was never overly fond of Otto Schneck's Ring, but this Meistersinger production is absolutely charming, a real classic.
    I'll be watching today and look forward to it.

  17. #25
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    Watched this last night. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to introduce my wife to Wagner and invited her to watch it with me. It didn't disappoint. My wife thoroughly enjoyed the work -- the fully realized and engaging characters, the pathos and the humor in depicting how people can face the disturbing irrationalities of life and societal expectations and still live lives which are deeply rewarding and worthwhile, and of course the beautiful score and mesmerizing orchestration. Overall it was a really solid performance musically and committed, believable acting all around -- Johannes Martin Kranzle especially being a standout in both departments. I was never overly fond of Otto Schneck's Ring, but this Meistersinger production is absolutely charming, a real classic.
    Finished the first act and thoroughly enjoyed it. A great thing about this production is that most of the singers seem to be great actors (especially Michael Volle as Hans Sachs) and it’s very dynamic - the singers express their emotions as a normal human being would.
    Last edited by annaw; Yesterday at 18:39.

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  19. #26
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I have the same production with a different cast on DVD. The problem is the hugely overweight Walther - can this be taken seriously as a dramatic young hero? I think I mentioned elsewhere I watched parts of Gotterdamerung and found the production imaginative although the cast variable.
    The good thing with Meistersinger is that it has so many characters that when one (even if a major one) isn't 100% fitting for the original role, it doesn't disturb too much. It's different with operas like Tristan where the whole opera focuses on two people - a miscast would probably be much more disturbing but this also depends I suppose.

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  21. #27
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    The Meistersinger from 2014 was a thoroughly traditional and wonderfully directed and acted production. It had a terrific feeling of real life, and made me appreciate what a profound observer of human behavior Wagner was, something not everyone notices when watching Rhinemaidens and knights of the Grail. I came away from this performance thoroughly convinced that Hans Sachs is the richest, most fully rounded character in opera, and Michael Volle brought out his every dimension. But then the production expressed vividly and heart-warmingly a full spectrum of human character traits. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of Beckmesser as less a clownish figure than a man with a certain dignity who is nonetheless disastrously lacking in self-awareness, and whose dishonesty and conceit make him both comical and very much in need of the lesson he is taught. It was absolutely true to life - we see such characters on our public stage every day - and I had no sense whatsoever that his embarassment, superbly acted by Johann Martin Kränzle, was cruel or unfair.

    Dramatically, then, the production was all I could have hoped for. The musical side was a bit less satisfying, with several lead singers past their primes and others decidedly second-rate to begin with. Best vocally were Kränzle, whose Beckmesser really could sing, and Paul Appleby, a David who seemed young in voice and body. Johan Botha's Walther didn't suggest a romantic hero but seemed like a friendly, not very bright guy off the street very much in need of losing weight, and Michael Volle achieved far more with his physical acting than with his voice, which wasn't capable of much legato or nuance. Annette Dasche's Eva was pretty and charming but vocally undistinguished, and Hans-Peter König's Pogner sounded worn compared to his Hagen of two years earlier. Meistersinger really demands first-rate singing; I would never want to hear the audio of this alone - but then I'd hardly need it, given some superb recordings of it going back many years. I still love the 1950s Kempe recording with Frantz, Grummer and Schock, and if you have the 1930s excerpts with Friedrich Schorr, Elisabeth Schumann, Lauritz Melchior and others ringing in your mind's ear, you know what Wagner meant when he said to his singers, "There are no recitatives in my music, it's all arias."

    James Levine conducted well except for a funereally slow reading of the Act 3 prelude, which depicts the philosophical side of Hans Sachs. Sachs is supposed to be a pensive, melancholy man, sometimes a little grouchy, but not necessarily a profoundly depressed one.

    It was good to have subtitles, since even with only partial and not always accurate translations the libretto of this work is a treasure chest of wit and wisdom, overflowing with good humor, pathos and verbal playfulness. Wagner may have loved his verbal inspirations a little too much at times - the opera ended up as the longest he ever wrote - but as always the musician in him made sure that the work only became more dramatically absorbing as it progressed.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Today at 06:37.

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