Thursday, January 29, 2009


Stephanie Blythe was in magnificent voice last night for the season's second-to-last Orfeo. My impressions of the whole were more or less the same as last time, but there was some performer turnover.

First, James Levine left (he's conducting, as previously noted, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra with the Boston Symphony), allowing Kazem Abdullah to make his Met debut. Abdullah, a 29-year-old from Dayton, unfortunately -- perhaps trying too hard to make an impression on his debut -- overconducted for much of the evening, leading an enjoyable but relatively airless performance. He did relax somewhat by the second half, and gave Blythe more room in "Che faro" (though not as much as one's traditionally heard on record), which may please those who objected to Levine's brisk tempo. But even then the dances were neither as precise nor as sprightly as for his predecessor. Of course, 29 isn't even an infant by conductor standards, and few look good in direct comparison to Levine.

Second, Heidi Grant Murphy was replaced as Amor by Ying Huang. Huang (or is it Ying?) has a sound uncannily reminiscent of Murphy's, if a bit fuller-bodied. She apparently didn't, however, get the memo that ornamentation in this production is supposed to be somewhere between zero and near-zero, throwing in some wild elaborations during her aria. (Yes, the ornamentation restriction may have been Levine's decree, but the other singers kept to it even in his absence.) This made the character even more of a bizarre figure than the pink polo and all-over glitter did.

Hearing Blythe at length is, of course, a treat.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.