Friday, May 01, 2009

The boy who went out to learn fear

Siegfried -- Metropolitan Opera, 4/30/09
Franz, Watson, Dohmen, Brubaker, White, Tomlinson, Fox, Oropesa / Levine

For his lovely soft singing and young eager Siegfried-isms, one might forgive Christian Franz pretty much anything. Not that his performance was otherwise disaster: he did (like most predecessors) approximate many of the big high/loud bits, but aside from sounding scarily out of gas for his big response to "Ewig war ich" (he did mostly get it together again for the very end), Franz provided strong (if fudged and/or imprecise) sound through even these more brutal tests. But his strengths: the lyric conversation with the Forest Bird, his reflections on seeing Brünnhilde, and his bodily reactions to everything -- carefree and young in Act II until roused to a hilarious fever pitch at hearing of the Valkyrie; having a moment of communion with Wotan after breaking the spear in Act III; palpably eager but confused at discovering Brünnhilde, then believably crushed as she has second thoughts before his desire overcomes them both -- made for a sympathetically dreamy Siegfried who didn't, as is sometimes the case, seem the villain of the piece.

Linda Watson (stepping in because Dalayman has never yet sung all three Brünnhildes in a week's space) has a full warm dramatic-soprano bottom to her voice, but gets a bit wobblier above that. Voice aside, she and Franz -- thanks in no small part to his reactions -- carried off the personal back-and-forth of the final scene quite movingly.

Albert Dohmen sang so well as the Wanderer that I feel I may have shortchanged him in the last Valkyrie write-up. (Though perhaps it's that I haven't seen Morris' Wanderer this season as comparison...) Of his first two acts' work I had many of the same objections as Tuesday, but Dohmen was so forceful in Act III and sang so strongly throughout that he deserved what he received: the biggest non-Levine ovations of the night.

Robert Brubaker is something of a revelation as Mime, but so is Lisette Oropesa as a perky and heavenly Forest Bird. In fact, all the supporting players did their bits well, as did James Levine's orchestra. But it's largely to Franz's credit that this summa of boys' adventure tales came off so happily.

1 comment:

  1. Siegfried is a role that we hope to hear the best, pray we don't hear the worst, and settle for good enough. Franz surpassed good enough. I loved his youthful impetuousness. I agree, the Forest Bird colloquy was superb: it was one of the most beautiful moments thus far in the cycle.

    I loved the Watson-Franz duet. I have underestimated Ms. Watson. I thought her full range was wonderful.

    I have been disappointed with our Erda (is it Wendy White?) - she lacks gravitas.

    Dohmen has gotten better each night, and each night he gets better in each act. He needs to sing a prelude act, then come on as though it is Act II.

    I still think the star of this production is the orchestra. I cannot believe how good they sound. There have been about 4 brass flubs (all quiet), and they only stand out because the rest is PERFECT. The winds have never sounded better. I want to have the children of the cute blonde principal oboist, the entire clarinet section, the contrabassoon, and Mr. English Horn. The only wood that better NOT burn in the final conflagration of Gotterdammerung is the MET woodwinds.



Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.