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Subject: MET Tristan=-plus comments upon social, poliical arena
From: David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 27 Sep 2016 23:53:10 -0400

text/plain (155 lines)

I  am serving notice here that I sense I have been upbraided - for having
walked away from being online six minutes into Act Three for the political
wrestling match that got underway four hours after Opening Night at the Met
began, so it is time for me to have a little fun here.   By the way, don't
blame me for having to post once more on what subject is (or subjects are)
in question here.
The way Opening Night of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde had gone so far left me
feeling underwhelmed and a little weary of listening to Stuart Skelton as
well.   I intended to make it back for all of the Liebestod, but ultimately
missed the first several minutes thereof.  Pardon me, and after the gaping
cut in the middle of Act Two, my oversight.

Let's start, I suppose, with Nina Stemme.   Some Max Winter here (real
initials - JSC) referred back to Stemme's Isolde in Houston three years ago,
then unfavorably comparing her with Christine Goeke.  I've heard Goeke with
good  conducting, i.e. Vladimir Jurowski, sing Wagner and Strauss with
hardly any concept of any center to the pitch, ungainly, unwieldy concept of
line - and I've also heard her in easier material as conducted by Patrick
Summers here as well (Ortrud, Eboli - both flawed but not bad).  She had
once been a Handel and Mozart soprano, with my being able to recall a
passable, but next to a spectacular Anja Harteros, dull, colorless,
flat-line Donna  Elvira with James Levine at his best twelve years ago.

The harmonic and musical language  of Tristan und Isolde, it is a given, is
more advanced than any of the above.   Nina Stemme at times does have a
little trouble with steadiness of intonation, such as during the Liebestod
last night.  How can you expect anybody who might have the slightest of
issues at all this way to sing at all well over the sterile, thin sounding 
overtone lacking orchestral forces Patrick Summers conducts here?  Even with
the problems, a  little similar at times, I had with Simon Rattle last
night, they for much of the time pale in comparison with Patrick Summers
attempting to conduct Wagner.- or Strauss (MET Salome - 2008). 
Nevertheless, Stemme will still continue to be Stemme, and Goeke Goeke, wh
turbo-charges her voice a little beyond its natural size whatever tricks to
manipulate her technique to do so. 

There are instances when Stemme is not ideal.  take for instance the concert
Ring at the Proms three years ago, but once making it to Gotterdammerung, no
longer paired with an aging Bryn Terfel or the ubiquitous  frequently
second-tier Lance Ryan, I haven't heard anyone in the part more spot-on,
intense, and engaged.

We've been acquainted I surmise with shorter cuts to the opening or
first-half paragraphs to the love scene in Tristan und Isolde.  It took me
reading six published reviews and then a post submitted here to come across
any mention of it.  For it to take a mere seven minutes to make it from the
point at which the two lovers enter to 'O sink hernieder'  I surmise is a
greater cannibalizing of Wagner's score than at any other notable time in
the past sixty years.  Before that, there may have been as great as last
night, albeit I wish it might not have been so.  It musically,
psychologically, and dramatically just simply does not work, regarding for
starters the overheated ardor and exaltation with which this music opens, as
Wagner has scored it  through some involved Schopenhauer-an discourse to our
embarking upon 'O sink hernieder.'  Has the cut to the preceding music and
text really been at any major house so practically disfiguring before?

The use of a boy actor on stage in Act Three to represent Tristan's youth
may not have any ties to Konwitschny's heavily ironic, postmodernist take on
Tristan in Munich from years back.  Nevertheless, all the clutter reported
about on the Met stage and the need to video-footage purely orchestral
passages, it seems to me, has more to do with addressing the brevity of
audience attention span more than it has anything to do with Wagner or
coherent concept thereof. Align this with Simon Rattle's only passable
conducting, concept, of this score and such problems can only become more
serious instead of less.

In likely some review I've come across,, there has been the mention of
Karajan's name and the purpose on Rattle's part to eschew what luxuriating
in sonorities - legacy of the former maestro, but after last night, I sure
would have liked to have a little more of this back.  A cliche we run across
in reviews of so many musical events, not only orchestral or operatic,
regards how whatever artist in question has achieved a great arc in the
overall line encompassing one long work or movement, as being just something
one is expected to say, with other critics then to parrot it.  Last night
only halfway succeeded in achieving anything approaching such an ideal. 
This Tristan, at times really failed to 'get it up.'

You're all flops.  I am the Earth Mother, and you're all flops.  .....
Martha makes goo-goo eyes, and the lunk-heads grin, and roll their
beautiful, beautiful eyes back, and grin some more, and Martha licks her
chops, and the lunk-heads slap over to the bar to pick up a little courage,
and they pick up a little courage, and they bounce back over to old Martha,
who does a little dance for them, which heats them all up .....mentally
.....and so they slap over to the bar and pick up a little more courage, and
their wives and sweethearts stick their noses up in the air .... which sends
the lunk-heads back to the soda fountain again where they fuel up some more,
while Martha-poo sits there with her dress up over her head ....
suffocating-you don't know how stuffy it is  with your dress up over your
head-suffocating, waiting for the lunk-heads; so FINALLL Y they get their
courage up...but that's all, baby!  Oh my, there is sometimes some very nice
potential, but, oh my! My, my, my .....

(Brightly) But that's how it is in civilized society. ...How I wish Nina
Stemme, in regards to her pair of colleague either up there or down here in
Houston could have come up with a few of these lines.  

Regardless, any cannibalizing of the arts, already commonplace down here for
some time, does eventually come at some cost, as our environment, unborn,
services for the needy, elderly, disabled, our very infrastructure can then
get quite well cannibalized itself, not to mention, not to mention at all
our language in the social and political arena - all in the effort for
everyone, everything - the ants will take over the world - to conform.

A certain number of sperm tubes will have to be cut ..... leav(ing) just the
smallest scar on the underside of the scrotum.

The political circus last night, as gladiatorial as possible, called a
debate, was hardly less miserable affair, lest you suffer from severe
masochistic tendencies. Most risible the whole evening perhaps last night
was the corporate mass media's overuse, abuse of the good adjective
'pugilistic', parroting themselves with it, only  to volley it over to, then
in absentia, Donald Trump. Thoroughly despicable as he is, he may have won
the debate last night, vs. Hillary speaking as though two dozen echelons
above all the rest of us, and the forced, cynical smile she never could wipe
off  ... allied with the most trenchant barrage of lying I've ever heard
from anybody, even while standing next to the Donald.  How would I've known,
had I not tuned in?  Pugilistic....... yikes!!!

Martha( to Nick): You stay right where you are .... you stay right at the
meat of things.

George:  You're obsessed with that phrase, Martha.... its ugly.

The motive behind having cannibalized the long central passage of Act Two
the Love Scene is- it should come across as somewhat distinct from the
Second Act of Verdi's Ballo in maschera after all - had to have been
something in regards to keeping labor costs down and making sure the Met's
patronage makes it to their dinner or gala afterwards on time.  It seems as
well that the distracting visual effects in this Tristan were not especially
cost-friendly.  The sterilizing effect of it all certainly at the very least
made the idea of then sitting through most of Act Three irrelevant.  

I am a bit long here, what with including the Edward Albee references, but
with reason for my madness I'll be back in a few hours from now, plus
perhaps a further anecdote or two.  Hope to hear back from one or two you
regarding the cut taken last night.  

Thanks in advance.

David H Spence

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