Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The renouncers

The last Met performance this season of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio -- almost two weeks ago now, I'm afraid -- was, as reports had suggested, a modest but real success. I was pleasantly surprised by the second couple: Aleksandra Kurzak finessed the high notes a bit but played Blonde with a winningly earthy womanliness, and Steve Davislim showed a light but charming tenor, just the thing for Pedrillo. Kristinn Sigmundsson has neither huge round sound nor the trick low notes but I could listen to his ease and fluency as Osmin all day. (I'd love to hear him as Ochs.) Polenzani was pure pleasure to hear as usual.

If there was any disappointment it was in fact Diana Damrau, who despite her comic affinity is even worse of a serious actress than I'd feared. Worse than the expectedly cool and less-than-traurig "Traurigkeit" was the exaggerated bobbing (with, unfortunately, accompanying heavy sonic accent) of her body that was supposed to stand in elsewhere for strong feeling. That said, she can sing "Marten aller Arten", which counts for a lot.

David Robertson conducted with emphasis on clean light textures, but used a light hand outside of the well-coordinated ensembles that were the evening's highlight. Another modernist approach, but much more effective than Bicket's for this month's Clemenzas.

Polenzani, Kurzak, and Davislim reunite in Chicago next March for another Abduction, with Erin Wall as Konstanze. Looks promising.

*     *     *

I did see another performance of La Clemenza di Tito -- the last this season. The singing was again notable, but what most stuck me was how strongly -- between Tamar Iveri's Vitellia and Susan Graham's Sesto -- the mixed and unclean feelings of a poisonous relationship were made tangible. Iveri can't sing her part as strongly as her predecessor Melanie Diener, but Diener was no schemer and the relationships in that last revival never came into such focus.

Also, I've never seen an audience made so enthusiastic by Mozartean opera seria.

1 comment:

  1. I also saw Clemenza and I thought the same thing. The relationships between the characters were so clear; it really gave a new depth to the opera.

    The audience WAS enthusiastic. I thought I was the only one who loved Clemenza. :) I'm glad I was wrong.

    The mezzos were definitely stronger than the sopranos in this cast.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.