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Subject: Fw: "Tell" comments
From: Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:07:49 +0000

text/plain (82 lines)

   This is an excellent summary of the strengths of the singers in last night's Guillaume Tell and the one weakness; Kwangchoul Youn's Melcthal also sounded distressingly woolly in person at first, although I thought he did improve somewhat over the course of his few solo lines in Act I (although he was back to sounding woolly in last night's Don Giovanni which I heard on Sirius).  The only thing I would add to this summary is that John Relyea, as I heard him from the Family Circle boxes at least, was probably half again as loud as anybody on stage in Act III.  Relyea didn't let out his full volume immediately, but began to do so before long.  The extra volume he was capable of summoning may not have been that apparent on the broadcast.

Although Gessler is the nominal head villain of the piece, and the one who gets killed at the end, his henchman the tenor Rodolphe is probably the larger part.  It's possible, in fact, that Gessler may not generally be considered the plum bass part in the opera.  At the most recent previous Met performance of Guillaume Tell before Tuesday night's, back in 1931, Ezio Pinza participated, and I had assumed that he sang Gessler.  However, checking the archives, I see that Pinza, perhaps tellingly (ahem), actually sang the role of Tell's friend Walter Furst.  Anyway, Relyea's extra volume, bolstered by his stage presence, went a ways toward re-establishing the character as the principal villain of the opera.
Mike Leone
[log in to unmask] il Leone!    

      From: Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]>
 To: [log in to unmask] 
 Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 6:16 PM
 Subject: Re: "Tell" comments
David Kubiak wrote:

"Interesting that apart from one comment on Hymel's C's, I have not read a
single word about the singing in this production.  If not here, where?  I
think people only feed into Gelb's noxious design ideas by fixating on them."

Actually, there have been several comments on the singing, including from me.  But if you 
want more specifics, here you go.  (Note that these are based on listening to Sirius, but 
comments from those who were in-house last night makes me think my impressions are 

Gerald Finley - He made quite an impact in a role that, for all its centrality, does not have 
any big spectacular moments, unlike the tenor and the soprano.  (Tell's one aria, "Sois 
immobile," is vocally rather low key.)  In order to dominate the drama as he should, the 
baritone singing Tell must sing with unflaggingly rich, beautiful tone but with great dramatic 
intensity.  Finley succeeded on both counts.  He is one of the finest baritones before the 
public today: a beautiful voice and an interesting singer.  I believed completely in Finley's 
Tell from his first utterance.  His "Sois immobile" was very moving, sung at just the right 
vocal and dramatic pitch, and his "Anatheme a Gesler!" which launches the Act III finale 
was sensational.

Bryan Hymel - As I noted in my previous post, this was a spectacular performance.  The 
role of Arnold is undoubtably one of the reasons "Tell" is not performed more often.  The 
part is in a cruelly high tessitura throughout - many high Cs - and, like Aeneas in "Les 
Troyens" (another Hymel specialty), requires a combination of lyric flexibility/lightness and 
dramatic power.  Tenors who can sing the role are rare as hen's teeth.  Hymel is just such a 
rare tenor.  It was a privilege to hear him.

Marina Rebeka - Another great performance.  Beautiful sound, solid tone, and spot-on 
accuracy in the florid parts.  She was fully the equal of Caballe on the Gardelli recording; no 
higher praise than that.

The other singers, with one exception, were at a high level, particularly basses John Relyea 
as the moustache-twirling villain Gesler and Marco Spotti as Walther.  The Hedwige and 
Jemmy were very good.  The exception was Kwangchul Youn's Melcthal, which was quavery 
and unfocused.  It was a mercy the character died in Act 1.  This was a pity, as Melcthal has 
some important utterances in Act 1.

So, bravi tutti.        


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