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Subject: Re: Stunning Bluebeard's Castle with Alan Held, Michelle DeYoung and the Portland Symphony
From: Donald S <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald S <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 7 Nov 2016 10:40:14 -0700

text/plain (88 lines)

Michelle De Young is a fabulous singer who has spent much of her career under the radar while others have gotten the limelight. 


Sent from my iPad

> On Nov 7, 2016, at 08:57, G. Paul Padillo <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The Portland Symphony celebrated All Saints Day/Dia de los Muertos with two works 
> seemingly at odds, the Bach Concerto for Two Violins in d minor, and Bartok's short, 
> powerful opera, Bluebeard's Castle. 
> With a paired down chamber ensemble playing period style, the Bach glittered sparkled and 
> reminded one of this composer's enormous genius never feeling academic but instead 
> almost dance like. Maestro Moody gave the outer movements a brisk, almost breathlessly 
> athletic pace, while in its gooey center movement he revealed Bach's genius at writing long, 
> exquisite melodies, as the two violins wrapped around each other's lines in an embrace that 
> makes it one of Bach's most beloved works. 
> Keeping it within the family, the soloists were PSO violinists Amy Sims and Sasha Callahan, 
> each playing with beautiful baroque style and stunning virtuosity. They were rewarded with 
> a glowing ovation from their hometown audience . . . all of us feeling the love.
> Following intermission came the Bartok. I've loved this difficult (in many ways) opera since 
> my teens, have enjoyed several live performances and most available recordings, but here, 
> in a stripped down concert staging, it worked in a way few staged performances are capable 
> of. Having Bartok's massive orchestra onstage allowed it to become an even greater part of 
> the drama than from a recessed pit. 
> Once Moody took the podium, the house and stage lights went out, plunging the hall into 
> darkness. Though no lighting designer or stage director was credited, one sensed 
> immediately both lights and "action" would be part of the show. In the dark, a sounding 
> narrator welcomed us with the Prologue of the Bard (spoken in English) as the haunting 
> opening strains began. Dim light allowed us to see Bluebeard, Alan Held and his new bride 
> Judith, Michelle DeYoung, enter his castle. The pair played superbly off of each other, 
> DeYoung's Judith an enchanted young bride, reassuring her dark-souled husband of her 
> love, while Held's Bluebeard tested her loyalty, offering her opportunities to return to her 
> former life. Both singers were in superb voice, deftly projecting over Bartok’s dense, lush 
> scoring even when Moody had the orchestra pulling out all the stops, including those of the 
> mighty Kotzschmar Organ
> The meat of the opera is comprised of seven closed door, each hiding a secret of Bluebeard 
> is unwilling to reveal, until Judith demands them be opened. Bartok's tonal palette and gift 
> of orchestration gives each of the rooms a unique sound spectrum, beginning with the first, 
> a torture chamber. This production also had a recorded, piped in, most unsettling 
> groan/sigh that chills both Judith and the audience. The theatrical highlight for many, 
> including me, is the opening of the Fifth Door which reveals the vastness of Bluebeard's 
> kingdom the organ and orchestra letting loose at fortissimo as Judith belts out a high C. The 
> effect was heightened as from near darkness, the lights flashed on bathing the entire house 
> in a sea of white as Ms. DeYoung, arms raised in awe, capped everything with as great a 
> high C as I've heard, producing gasps from many in the audience. Brilliant. 
> At the final door, we meet Bartok's three, still very much alive former wives, representing 
> morning, afternoon and twilight, Judith - who is midnight - must now join, leaving 
> Bluebeard,. as he has been most of his life, alone in the dark. 
> I'm happy to see and hear Bartok's gem being programmed more than in years past (the 
> nearby Boston Symphony also performed it last week), particularly when so ravishingly 
> played as it was here. It was a highlight of Maestro's tenure so far with this organization, 
> and a night that will not soon be forgotten, or bettered.
> p.
> **********************************************
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