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Subject: Tenorial Musings - MET Fidelio & Idomeneo
From: Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 29 Mar 2017 20:48:47 -0400
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Tenorial Musings:  MET March '17

I usually don’t travel specifically for tenors – there were / are a few
though – from the past it was Vickers and Kraus for me.   As to the present
day I would say Florez, Polenzani, Grigolo, and Vogt.  If Kaufmann had not
turned into Joanas Caballe, he would have had me reaching deep into my
wallet as well.  We really are experiencing a bumper crop of tenors now.
With that in mind, I went to the MET for in house performances of “Fidelio”
(March 24) and  “Idomeno” (March 25)  – both works I admire on their own
merits irrespective of who’s singing.

I have had the good fortune to hear Klaus Florian Vogt many times in
Bayreuth and Berlin.  His is a voice that cannot be mistaken  for any other
– a timbre that has the natural beauty and purity of eternal youth -
adolescent and heroic at the same time. His Lohengrin is incomparable and
has long since become my standard.  Florestan may not be quite his ideal
role if you are used to the rugged splendors of Vickers but when KFV opened
up he filled the MET barn with a clear, clarion, sirens song.  Pieczonka
was a bright voiced, committed Leonore but did not erase memories of my
last - Mattila in Chicago. The remainder of the cast did the work justice
with Bayreuth's favorite Gunther Groissbock's brief "bel canto" take on Don
Fernando a standout.

The Flimm production which updates the story to a sort of composite 20th
century  continues to be a focused and powerful platform for both the
narrative and emotion inherent in music and libretto.

Over the years I have enjoyed Matthew Polenzani's gradual and meticulously
planned assumption of the "Big Boy" roles.  His sound itself has always
been beautifully refined and perfectly calibrated from the beginning.  Like
Gedda and Kraus he is a vocal gentleman par excellence and thus can never
disappoint due to his inborn and balanced sense of taste.  I've seen many
do "Idomeneo" starting with Pavarotti when this production was new.  No one
brought the vocal poise to the role that Polenzani did despite some hurdles
not quite jumped in "Fuor del Mar."  The crux of his role in Act 3 consists
primarily of recitative which he delivered with passion and feeling firmly
grounded in the music.

The only other member of the cast performing close to this level was Nadine
Sierra as Ilia, her darkish timbre and emphatic delivery giving an edge to
a character that can often seem bland.

Having just seen her deliver an inadequate "Ariodante" in Toronto Alice
Coote's presence in major roles in major venues continues to baffle.  She's
like a bargain basement "two fer" - Idamante in '17 followed by a
Cendrillon Prince combo  in '18 .  She offers physical clumsiness joined to
vocal ineptitude that continues to decline with age  - on the bright side,
think of the money the MET saved by engaging her!

Elsa van den Heever knows how to throw herself into a role like Elettra -
unfortunately the voice and technique can't supply what isn't really there
- a blazing top with mostly drop outs below.  As to any florid pretentions
- she makes Tebaldi sound like Sutherland.
Let's admit it - Levine, like me, is aging.  Instead of the young Mozart's
dynamic "Opera Seria" we had what equated to Purcell's Funeral music for
Queen Mary.  Time to go?

ps - for those on Opera L facebook I've posted Curtain Call pics...

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