Saturday, March 08, 2008

The dark, dark opera

Tristan und Isolde seems to be doing a pretty good job of scrambling the Met's schedule: Wednesday's late starts for every act of Lucia (and, perhaps, Levine's absence) were, apparently, the result of a long Tristan rehearsal that afternoon, and a similar thing happened to Peter Grimes last night. This time there was a pre-curtain announcement that the Tristan final dress was what had held things up, and that intermissions would be shortened a bit to make up for it. (Meanwhile, it seems that Ben Heppner did not sing in the dress, leaving that to a cover named John MacMaster. What will happen for the actual performances of Tristan is anyone's guess.)

Any any rate, the performance of Grimes that followed was a musically memorable one, with Anthony Dean Griffey doing such a lyrically shaped and projected sing of the lead that my previous complaint seems unfairly besides the point. But a second view of the production had me amazed at just how literally dark it is. Yes, the gloom mixed with occasional (mostly indirect) lighting makes for a nice refreshing contrast when the walls go up at the end, but it really is a strain before that point, perhaps even more so for older patrons. This may be one of the few shows to benefit from the usual ratcheting-up of lighting for the moviecast (next week).

(Incidentally, Bernheimer actually liked the now-deleted ending! The mind boggles.)

UPDATE (11:20PM): The Tristan switch is official.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.