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Subject: Met Lohengrin broadcast
From: "Joseph K. So" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Joseph K. So
Date:Sat, 21 Mar 1998 20:11:00 -0500
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        For once, I devoted the whole afternoon listening to the
broadcast, rather than hearing only snippets between errands or taping for
later listening.  This performance simply bowled me over. Without the
visual element to add or detract (depending on whose review you read) from
one's enjoyment, on the radio, we can just concentrate on the music.  For
four and a half hours, I followed it with the score.  It never fails to
amaze me the wonderful richness of this opera.  The last time I saw it was
with Heppner and Andrea Gruber in Seattle three years ago.  It was
terrific then, but the Met orchestra and the rest of the cast is stronger
here.  I find myself falling in love with this opera again and look
forward to seeing in in the Fall.  Maybe it will be videotaped so everyone
can get a chance to see what the brouhaha is all about.
        It is great to hear Ben sing so well - the beauty of tone,
 expressivity, clarion power, and stamina are all there this afternoon.
Charlie mentions the pinched, narrow attack on a few high notes - it's
pretty hard to not sound pinched singing high A's on the vowel 'e'.
The slightly nasal quality to the tone has always been there, and it
maybe getting a bit more prominent. It doesn't really bother me, unlike
the nasality of a Richard Cassily. In Voigt he has the perfect Elsa.
Seeing her as Ariadne, Amelia and Sieglinde, fine as these portrayals
were, didn't prepare me for her fabulous Elsa.  She must have worked long
and hard on her high piano singing.  It was never the strength of her
voice IMHO, but today she was stunning.  The two voices failed to blend (a
microphone balance problem?) in part of the duet in the Bridal Chamber
Scene, otherwise in terms of vocal weight and timbre they are a very good
match.  Polaski's high notes reminds me of her ill-fated Brunnhilde at
Bayreuth in 1987 or 1988 - they are very strained indeed.  But you can
tell she is an intelligent artist and the middle voice is quite nice.
Eric Halfvarson has a major wobble and is sounding a bit old and worn. A
steady diet of Wagner can really do this to a voice! Ketelson makes a
pedestrian Telramund.  Like others, I don't find the tempo slow at all. In
fact, Levine speeds up big time for the climaxes.  This broadcast has
really piqued my interest and I can't wait to see it in the theatre!

Joseph So
<[log in to unmask]>

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