I have to concur with the first view I read about Mr. Wilson's approach to
LOHENGRIN; Mr. Kessler's posting-reposte comes to his defense very well, but -
consider what Wilson said, then consider how the two ladies involved in the
production "hedged" in last week's RoundTable - aside from the fact that Ms.
Polaski let us know that she requires the services of a chiropractor because
of the physical strain of the production. The Voight gesture that got changed
might have been doing something seriously detrimental to her singing of Elsa;
we don't know this. To me he didn't sound like a "Performer Friendly"
director, rather the opposite, but that is just my impression.
What we are hearing today on the radio is WAGNER's LOHENGRIN (and quite
stunning it is!)- what they are seeing in the theatre is WILSON'S LOHENGRIN -
with music and text by Wagner. This is no different than seeing Shakespeare
various interpreted on stage.
We don't have to love particular productions to love the opera. From what I've
read and heard and the pictures I have seen, this is not a production I would
be ecstatic with - but I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. It is said to be
quite beautiful and hypnotic - better that than some of the silliness that can
and does happen in some German theatres.
The really big problem doesn't seem to be THIS season's LOHENGRIN, but how can
SO particular a production be revived successfully? This production (it would
seem) cannot ammortize itself by becoming a repertoire production. We've
read in these postings about the substitute Ortrud for THIS season who just
didn't fit into the whole concept and who threw the show out of whack. And
this is WITH the real production team at hand. What is going to happen later?
More than likely this interesting (if infuriating in some circles) production
will go the way of the Zambello LUCIA - not because it is a bad production,
but for the fact that this kind of show CAN'T be sustained in a repertory
house like the Met.
As to the show itself on the radio today - BRAVISSIMI!
For all the carping about Levine's slow tempi - I don't think that they apply
to today's broadcast. This is a pretty zippy LOHENGRIN.
Heppner is simply as good as it gets anywhere at anytime. And I am a real fan
of the Heldentenors of "the Good Old Days"! Over the radio there seems to be a
bit more nasality than one hears in the house, but the whole thing is SO
glorious that uncomplimentary miking just makes you realize that he is a real
human being and not Lohengrin himself singing the role.
The "Debbies" were fine. Well matched - and very interesting. Polaski is
stretched a bit by the upper end, but over the radio we can't see what she is
having to do as Ortrud.
The rest of the men were good to excellent. The Four Nobles did VERY well in
their tricky passage in Act II - and the chorus (especially the men) was
STUNNING. (How many of you out there realize that singing in an uncut
LOHENGRIN for the first tenors in the chorus is longer and more difficult than
a complete BOHEME Rodolfo - high C and all! And the chorus doesn't get to
transpose the opening of the last scene down.)
All in all a WONDERFUL afternoon on the radio - and, I'm sure, an interesting
one in the house,
Yours in Seattle,