As the applause erupted, this writer felt a tremendous sense of nostalgia; the kind one feels after a long journey that will undoubtedly never repeat itself in the same way. More Ring cycles are surely on the way and those who have an opportunity should surely not miss out on the opportunity to experience one of the most fulfilling artistic endeavors ever. Happy Birthday Richard Wagner! The Metropolitan Opera has surely done you well.
The Wagner bicentennial celebration has been a big success at the Met. A perfect "Parsifal" in February was followed by two solid and often breathtaking accounts of "Das Rheingold" and "Die Walküre." "Siegfried" takes the celebration up a notch with a dynamic union of singers, conducting and even a production that lives up to the hype.
McVicar has had mixed results throughout his brief Met career, but there is no denying the powerful success of his "Giulio Cesare." The production is not only laden with a plethora of eye candy and entertainment, but also features a nuanced depictions of warring cultures that is very much relevant to modern day. Many people often object to the modernization of works to current times; McVicar does not bother with this pretention in the least. Instead he sets the opera in a fantastical world that brings all of history together and reminds of the transcendent quality that opera can have. The endearing cast not only validates McVicar's production, but also makes a stunning case for the increased presentation of baroque opera around the world.
Ultimately, nuanced singing, acting, and conducting in Wagner is usually enough to make up for an unsatisfying production; this was certainly the case in the Saturday afternoon performance of "Die Walküre."
The performance showcased the ideal "Otello:" it was filled with great singing, wondrous acting, and plenty of dramatic insight and power that was riveting and revelatory. As part of the 200-year celebration of Verdi's birthday, this performance of the venerable masterpiece was a glorious present to the celebrated composer.
"Francesca" offers the opera lover a rare opportunity to experience a seldom-performed gem of the repertoire. Each act lasts little over 30 minutes, making the experience all the more manageable for the uninitiated. Ultimately, the singers, conductor, and exquisite production make this a great revival at the Metropolitan Opera.
Don Carlo is a long opera, but it felt eternal under the guidance of Maazel and lackluster production of Nicholas Hytner. Fortunately, the singers brought committed performances that under better circumstances would have created an unforgettable evening. For those who want great singing, there is a lot to be found in this performance, but those looking for great Verdi on his 200th birthday celebration should look elsewhere.
Every season, I feel that there is one production where the stars align in a transcendent evening that will never be forgotten; Friday's premiere of "Parsifal" was one of those events. A tremendous superstar cast coupled with a phenomenal production elevated Wagner, the greatest star of all, to unprecedented heights. This is the most wonderful birthday present that the Met could give to the God of opera on his 200th birthday.
This "Rigoletto" will surely have a fair share of detractors, but those open to new visions and willing to try something different will be pleasantly surprised by how effectively staged Mayer's production is. The singing is solid throughout and includes some truly revelatory performances. I am guilty of criticizing many modern Met productions under general manager Peter Gelb, but I am a strong supporter of this "Rigoletto." It is one of the finest achievements of the general manager's tenure.
It is impossible to deny that the Met has put together another riveting and unforgettable revival with this season's "Rondine." The two principals Opolais and Filianoti bring dynamic and complex portrayals that make this one of the most dynamic and heart-breaking love stories to grace the great opera house in years.
Audiences looking for a night great singing will likely enjoy "Maria Stuarda," but those looking for a transformative theatrical experience will likely feel a bit unsatisfied.
On Saturday, the Met Opera ended its run of Berlioz's masterpiece "Les Troyens" triumphantly. The performance included yet another rousing turn by Susan Graham as Didon and also showcased Deborah Voigt's passionate Cassandra. However, the night's biggest draw was the heroic performance of Bryan Hymel as the Trojan hero Enée.
Berlioz's "Les Troyens" is one of the most underrated works in all of operatic literature mainly due to the fact that it is rarely heard. However, the performance at the Met this Friday showcased how powerful and breathtaking Berlioz's masterful score could be. The opera may not return to the Met stage for another 10 years, but the experience of the current cast (with the addition of tenor Bryan Hymel) and visionary production is one that could last a lifetime.
As the opera comes to an end, the chorus utters the words "Notte d'orror" which translates to "Night of horror."
Aida is among Verdi's greatest achievements and well executed by a strong production and powerful cast, it presents one of the most riveting theatrical experiences possible. The Metropolitan Opera succeeded on all fronts in Friday's premiere, making for one of the most remarkable performances of the season to date.