Sunday, April 01, 2007

I did what?

Digging through some old papers, I came across the libretto from the last New York presentation of Egyptian Helen, which I'd completely forgotten I'd attended. Deborah Voigt was, then as now, Helena, with Carl Tanner as Menelaus and Celena Schafer (who stole the show) as Aithra. What did I get from this American Symphony concert performance? Mostly that Die Liebe der Danae -- the previous American Symphony concert opera -- despite a certain lack of dramatic authenticity (and Joseph Gregor's cardboard characterizations), is a lot easier to put over than Helen. Pedestrian conducting? Mostly overmatched cast? Lack of sets? All one needs is a hint of charisma in Danae and a touch of musicality in Jupiter and the last act works wonders.

I wish I'd made it over to Dresden for the Strauss event this year (which included Danae).


  1. I agree with you on this wholeheartedly. The quality of the language in Danae is nowhere near as high as in Helena, but the situations are much, much easier to get across (okay, albeit with some tough magic to stage), and the last half of the third act is absolute top-shelf Strauss no questions asked.

    Now, finding someone who can sing Jupiter at pitch...

  2. "Now, finding someone who can sing Jupiter at pitch..."

    What, no suggestions?

    I've thought that the only way we'd see it here is if some big-name baritone wanted it as a vanity project. But who has that sort of pull at the Met? Delavan at City Opera maybe.

  3. Have you heard the recording with Franz Grundheber? (Happy to share relevant parts) He does do it at pitch (at the incredible age of 60-something), and he's actually the first person to record it that way.

    I'm not sure City Opera would invest in it--it's kinda big and long for them, I think? And then you also have to hire a tenor with a high C# and a soprano who can sing a lot of high stuff very softly.

    I can't think of any baritones out there right now who really match up with this role. It's too big, I think, for a Mattei or Hvorostovsky. Now if only Rene Pape liked it and could stay up above the staff...


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.