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Subject: Re: Das Rheingold last night, and "The Machine"
From: Luis Saltiel <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Luis Saltiel <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 5 Apr 2012 12:39:06 -0400

text/plain (86 lines)


On Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM, James Camner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> We were there last night, sitting in the center of the Family Circle.
> This was perhaps the best sung Das Rheingold I've seen, my first was the
> Met premiere of the Karajan Ring November 22, 1968.
> The atmosphere surrounding that premiere was unlike anything we get today,
> it was a BIG DEAL, a very starry night glamour-wise, all sorts of
> celebrities. But the singing last night was better in just about every way
> beginning with Terfel's superb Wotan, finer even than how he sang in the HD
> last season. Blythe was also superb, better than I've heard her in
> anything. She was quite a FORCE.  The Rhinemaidens were also super with
> Tamara Mumford, who seems headed for a big career, as a standout. Wendy
> Bryn Harmer rang out as Freia, she too seems headed for big things. Stefan
> Margita is the best Loge I've heard, on the level of Svanholm on the fabled
> Solti recording. All of the cast was outstanding including Dwayne Croft's
> Donner.
> I wish I could write as enthusiastically about the conducting by Luisi and
> the playing by the orchestra. The conducting was pedestrian for a
> Rheingold; there were good moments, the performance definitely gathered
> steam, but after Levine, it seemed listless, the playing of the orchestra
> was patchy, the horns in particular recalled the Met Orchestra of my youth.
> What has happened to this once heralded brass section? Overall, the playing
> lacked the depth, richness, sumptuous quality that I heard only just last
> year from Levine.
> The machine. Sorry folks, we (my wife and I)  love it!  I agree with the
> remark that this production probably follows Wagner's instructions (which I
> have read, and also supplemented by maniacal letters written by Wagner and
> his wife). I thought it looked absolutely splendid from our Family Circle
> seat, we thrilled to the descent to Niebelheim, and to the finale on the
> Rainbow Bridge. From casual conversations with non opera fanatics, I have
> heard nothing but enthusiasm about it from them.
> I don't get the hostility to "The Machine" which seems to extend beyond the
> usual animosity toward anything new and different. Alex Ross (who IMHO has
> slim credentials beyond a music degree and a privileged perch in a literary
> magazine -- he's hardly Andrew Porter) is the one I would characterize as
> witless. The constant antagonistic references to "The Machine" seem to
> qualify as "Luddism", and its
> antipathy toward machines in general. This production with its "Machine" is
> different from any other Ring I've seen, including that Karajan Ring both
> in its innovative technology and its faithfulness to the instructions
> written by Wagner in the scores. Of course opinions can differ and I have
> no problem with someone not liking a production, but this hostility and the
> ignorant remarks by Ross seem to go further. What I wrote earlier, I will
> write again: if for any reason the Met did go back to the earlier
> production people would find it very dull after the LePage RIng. Again, I
> don't characterize everyone who doesn't like the production as a luddite,
> but those with a singular and seething hostility to it based on the
> technology seem to fit the definition to a "T"
> Last night was a lot of fun, it would have been better though with Jimmy in
> the pit and the orchestra playing as they did under his baton.
> James Camner
> **********************************************
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