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my miscellany

Michael Volle as Wotan — 27 Dec 14

Michael Volle as Wotan

As Anthony Tommasini reported in The New York Times (3 Dec 14) when he reviewed the last revival of Otto Schenk’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1993) at the Metropolitan Opera, Michael Volle sang two performances as Hans Sachs while James Morris sang the remaining five. (Morris and Volle were engaged to replace Johan Reuter, long scheduled to add Sachs to his repertoire, when he announced he would not add the role.) Volle had made his debut at the Met last season in Arabella.

The second of Volle’s performances was the Live in HD transmission on December 13 that Tommasini praised in the Times: “Mr. Volle sang the second of his scheduled appearances as Sachs and showed audiences around the world why he had become so sought-after” (14 Dec 14).

I attended the HD transmission, and before it began, on one of the screens “about the cast” the Met told me that Michael Volle would sing Wotan “in several years” at the Met. This information is red meat for Ring Nuts who plan travel schedules as far in advance as opera houses plan seasons.

Operabase reports that Mr. Volle will sing all three Wotans in Vienna under Simon Rattle in May-June, 2015. Presumably the Wotans at the Met would be in a revival of the Robert Lepage production with “the machine.” Again, this is red meat for Ring Nuts.

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Waltraud Meier: The Isolde of our Time — 25 Dec 14

Waltraud Meier: The Isolde of our Time

Three outstanding video recordings of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde establish Waltraud Meier as the Isolde of our time. Each is an eminent recording, and each puts on display Meier’s vibrant musicality and powerful dramatic presence.

The first is the Bayreuth Tristan, recorded in 1995. Heiner Müller was the stage director, Daniel Barenboim the conductor, and Siegfried Jerusalem sang Tristan. Mostly Opera wrote of this production: “Watch this to listen to Daniel Barenboim´s glorious conducting without being disturbed by irrelevant stage action. And to have the ideal Tristan and Isolde combination in Waltraud Meier and Siegfried Jerusalem. Strongly recommended as my personal favourite.”

The second is the Munich Tristan, recorded in 1998. Peter Konwitschny directed, Zubin Mehta conducted, and Jon Fredric West was Tristan. Again Mostly Opera wrote: “The major strength is Waltraud Meier´s mesmerizing Isolde, here with her entire radiance, displaying her immensely varied acting skills as well as effortless throwing off the high Cs. An exceptionally powerful performance, overpowering the vocally stressed as well as dramatically uninteresting Jon Frederic West as Tristan.”

And William R. Braun writes in the January, 2015, Opera News: “Meier still gives us a centered, single-minded woman who feels things deeply, still has complete solidity and power from the moment of curtain-rise and still puts across more of the text than any other Isolde. She is particularly good at differentiating the character’s inner thoughts from her outward dialogue, and she has acutely observed the way Wagner’s music for Isolde often dismisses the music that comes just before it and the way Wagner’s words for Isolde often turn other characters’ words back onto themselves.”

The third is the La Scala Tristan, recorded in 2007. Patrice Chéreau directed, Daniel Barenboim conducted, and Ian Storey portrayed Tristan. Wagneropera.net wrote of this production: “Portraying the most vulnerable and fragile Isolde ever seen on stage, Waltraud Meier, reaches new dramatic heights in Patrice Chéreau’s production at Teatro alla Scala, now released in Europe on DVD. This is a tour de force from one of the greatest Wagner singer-actors of our time.”

There can be little doubt that for the present Waltraud Meier is the Isolde of our time unless and until the time when a greater vocalist and actor surpasses these electric performances.

Jonas Kaufmann’s Parsifal DVD to appear Apr 1 — 28 Mar 14

Jonas Kaufmann’s Parsifal DVD to appear Apr 1

Sony Classical will release the DVD of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2013 production of Parsifal on Tuesday, April 1. Anthony Tommasini’s review appeared on 17 February 2013 in The New York Times.

The conductor is Daniele Gatti, and the superb cast includes:

Jonas Kaufmann as Parsifal

Katarina Dalayman as Kundry

René Pape as Gurnemanz

Peter Mattei as Amfortas

Evgeny Nikitin as Klingsor

Rúni Brattaberg as Titurel

The post-apocalyptic production is by François Girard with sets by Michael Levine and costumes by Thibault Vancraenenbroeck. The production surely is not for everyone, but everyone will want to know it.

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