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Subject: Mattila/Tambosi's searing Jenufa at the Met
From: David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 29 Oct 2016 03:00:39 -0400

text/plain (95 lines)

Thanks to the live audio streaming from the Met website tonight, a good
number of us got to hear te practically unqualified triumph this opening
night was.  What is frightening is that it might get even a little better
still during this run, as all settles in, but this proved to be as visceral
and live-wire an evening I ever recall hearing from the Met.  This was
Oksana Dyka's role debut in the title role and having to go toe-to-toe
alongside Karita Mattila, already established long ago in the title role in
at least as definitive an interpretation of the Kostelnicka.  

Daniel Brenna, a fine Laca, will warm up better as this run progresses,as
this evening he fully came into his own by the end of Act One.  Joseph
Kaiser, only a little difficult to distinguish from Brenna, was very fine as
Steva throughout,and the lyrical Laca that Brenna is will eventually catch up.

Oksana Dyka captured the innocence, open grief and shame, and very movingly
at the end of the evening, hope and reaching out such as you'd find from
somebody considerably more experienced in this part than she is.  This all
came across with clarion tone and secure line, soaring to the top in such a
way during Act 3 to remind me of a young Karita Mattila.  Expect just a
little more sinking into both music and text, opening out this way and
Dyka's assumption of the title role may very soon be the equal of her
forbear on stage right next to her.

David Robertson's romantic take on this score, with so much intensity on
stage, also took me aback, but it worked beautifully, buttressing and
framing equally so all the indefatigable effort by all involved to humanize,
flesh out the characters on stage to the uttermost.  Tempos especially in
Acts 1 and 3 were slightly broad at times, but most notably, Act 2 he paced
seamlessly.Coming off a defiantly intense scene- take no hostages - from
Mattila in Act 2 right before she steals off into the night, I felt perhaps
a little more repose could have been had or felt for or to frame the
extended scene for Jenufa alone.This too will likely come as this run

As selfless, not to mention tireless an artist Karita Mattila is, this too
very much was her night.  I have yet to have encountered a more
three-dimensional and at the same time fiery Kostelnicka than got displayed
tonight.  A deep-seated empathy with the younger female lead on stage, as
part perhaps on the Kostelnicka having reflected on her own tormented past
Mattila made heart-rending.  Mattila's tone was uniformly dark, but with all
the text to sing shot through with fully developed insinuation and nuance
across an entirely steady range and entirely fleshed out authoritative
interaction with everybody else on stage with whom the Kostelnicka has to deal.

The supporting cast, from Bradley Garvin's Foreman, Hanna Schwarz's deeply
melancholy but fully autoroitative Burja through Ying Fang's bright, pert
Jano and Richard Bernstein's sonorous Mayor was all across the board very fine.

With the Met orchestra playing by the end of this as though men possessed -
how often does one come across that?  Certainly not during the recent run of
Tristan's under Simon Rattle, not forgetting how very fine his two female
What may keep the Met from filming this Jenufa for posterity - and for the
pleasure of so many who may not be able to make it up to New York to see it?
 This same production had a run in San Francisco a few months back, but my
personal preference to make clear for how the title role was cast tonight at
the Met and for who was on the podium tonight as well.

All minor point-making or carping aside, almost thoroughly unjustified on my
part, this was a truly extraordinary opening, one practically for the ages,
on par in effect with a harrowing broadcast, courtesy most of all of Mattila
- of Kat'a Kabanova on Christmas Day of 2004   I almost had to check what I
was listening to this evening, to make sure I did not have Kat'a Kabanova
(my favorite Janacek) on instead.

Thank you and God bless all who made this undertaking, the level or the
heights it reached this evening not only a real possibility but a searing
reality, vision before our very eyes and ears.  It was so much so, a nearly
closing line or two from House of the Dead (based on Dostoevsky's prison
notebooks - Janacek's final opera) is begging me right now to come to mind.

David H Spence

P.S. We should be all as beggars to call the Met offices - so negligent to
have not included this in the Live in HD series - to get this Jenufa issued
on dvd, blu-ray.  Perhaps for what insipid features there are to Live in HD,
it is just as well that this very special Jenufa did not make it there.  Is
this not a Jenufa to preserve for the ages?  There should be no doubt
regarding that it indeed is.

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