Die Walküre -- Metropolitan Opera, 5/5/09
Watson, Morris, Pieczonka, Domingo/Lehman, Naef, Pape / Levine
[previous Walküre reviews this season here and here]
No one cared by the final curtain, but this last Schenk Valkyrie began with an announcement on Placido Domingo's indisposition -- which, we were told, he would try to overcome. It was fairly soon clear that the indisposition was winning (he could still power loud high notes but for stamina and sustained line... nothing), and, while the audience was wondering how he could possibly make it through Siegmund's part in the taxing Act I close, Domingo walked off stage immediately after his long solo beginning with the "Wälse" cries. Another tenor -- the indispensable Gary Lehman, of course -- came in just as Sieglinde appeared to ask Siegmund if he was asleep (in this case, obviously not: he was actually shambling in from the side and across onto the rug) and kick off the long Act-closing duet sequence.
Lehman turned out to have a pleasing but somewhat limited (not much extra space at climaxes) voice which well fit the character of Siegmund. (He was also much more visibly youthful and tragic, brandishing Nothung as one comfortable with a fight.) The other singer I haven't already written on in this piece (see previous posts above) was the Brünnhilde, Linda Watson. As I suspected after her Siegfried stint, the often low-lying demands of this opera suited her quite well, with only the climax of Act II's "Todesverkündigung" extendedly testing+exposing her unsteady top. She is larger than Theorin and Dalayman and not particularly athletic but does well with the more conventional Valkyrie body stuff -- which also complements the general warm phrasing she employs.
But of course the evening was about James Morris, and not just because this may be his last Walküre Wotan here or whatnot. Even after being stunned last month by how much he has left and how directly and naturally he's now able to present the part (in this better, as I've said, than he's ever yet done), Morris' Act III farewell still made the show. He deserved all of the huge ruckus (and love) he inspired at curtain calls -- and more -- but I thought his performance and success here to be almost beyond applause, the sort of thing at which one just goes home in quiet disbelief. He visibly trembled this time as he grasped Brünnhilde at the last -- was it as himself, or as Wotan? What difference, at this point, could there be?