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Subject: Bravo, Ben!
From: "paolo (G. P. Padillo)" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:paolo (G. P. Padillo)
Date:Tue, 25 Nov 2008 00:21:36 -0500
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Holy smoke, was the Met on fire tonight!  Big Ben sounded just a little tired in 
several moments of the first act, but there were far more where he offered 
sheer vocal beauty.  This was particularly true in all of the big moments which 
were almost all uniformly spectacular.  Heppner's level of intensity was blazing 
and the voice ringing free was thrilling in all the right places.  Equally, 
Gherman's moments of quiet, introspection were as intense as the big 
moments.  In all honesty, during his last few almost hushed bars of the death 
scene there were a couple of noticeable cracks, but I didn't mind - finding 
them almost somewhat apprpriate as Gherman was gasping his final, tortured 
breaths.  The house didn't mind them either as he was rewarded with a big 
bravo-ey ovation.
 
I read so much nastiness, the venting of spleens over Heppner's performance 
at the prima.  I heard it too, was slightly horrified (actually jumped out of my 
seat a couple of times) but noticed that despite the 20-some-odd cracks, 
there was also real musicmaking, involvement of character and some genuinely 
beautiful singing.  But, it seems some folk prefer a disaster, waiting for one, 
then go in for the kill.  We've seen it right here on this list.  I swear some of 
the posts I read were from the same kind of folk who go to the circus to 
watch someone fall to their death from a high wire, or get mauled to death by 
a lion.  We kept reading screams of "It's over for Heppner!" . . . "Outrage," and 
the operatic equivalent of "He'll never work in this town again."   It'll be 
interesting to see how many people who listened tonight will comment on 
Ben's sensational performance.  If this is a man whose career is over, I only 
hope many more singers have such "awful" nights as Ben did tonight!  
 
Ozawa milked the score for all it was worth (a lot, in my opinion) which is 
exactly how Tchaikovsky should be - dark, brooding, swirling strings and 
blasting horns, sudden shifts in dynamics, it was sensational and the Met 
Orchestra played like their lives depended on this score.  Magnificent.  The 
opera's postlude, so poignant and touching was here just breathtaking.  Equal 
in their own way was the Met Chorus, who just thrilled all night.  
 
Delavan's voice has become just slightly blowsy at times lately (to my ears 
anyway), but I still really like this guy's performances, and I always believe 
him in his roles.  
 
Someone commented this weekend how Felicity Palmer was "all wrong" for this 
role, but I found her Countess terrific . . . just perfectly chilling in all the right 
ways.  I only wish I could've seen her as well.  
 
Gherman and Lisa's big scene in Act III was hair raising.  Guleghina was 
predictably a bit variable tonight, but this is the kind of role she can make 
work for her and her solo scene and duet before her suicide found her pouring 
the sound out easily and (mostly) in tune.  I thought my heart would pop right 
out of my chest before the scene was over.  And she was rewarded with a big 
fat ovation richly deserved.  

This is such a tremendous opera - I never tire of it, and tonight's performance 
was just thrilling.  

Bravo, Ben . . . and bravi a tutti to Maestro Ozawa and the entire company 
tonight.  Mille grazie!

p.
http://sharkonarts.blogspot.com/
 

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