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Subject: Seattle Part 1
From: NAKAMURA Akira <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Fri, 21 Aug 1998 11:05:53 +0000
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Doug and I came back from a glorious 7-day trip to Seattle on August
18.  Several people have asked me to write a travelogue comparable to my
European diary.  As I was on no-mail for a week, I haven't read all the
reviews of Seattle's _Tristan und Isolde_ yet, but so many have been
written by so many opera-l'ers, so what can I say?

First, the food at the Space Needle revolving restaurant is not to be
eaten, although there is a spectacular 360-degree view.  I was surprised
when Doug, normally an arbiter elegantiae, insisted on dining at such a
tacky place, but he convinced me that it transcended tackiness.  The
paella must have contained something weird, as my upper lip started to
swell a la Edina Monsoon in one of the AbFab episodes in an allergic
reaction as soon as I finished eating it!  (Local beer was good.)

We had the great honour of staying in the magnificent brand-new Jane
Eaglen suite chez Rod and Dale for two nights, until we were bumped by
Frank Drake and Jim Yonke, who had the foresight to book the suite
farther in advance than we did.  (We spent the rest of our stay in Rod
and Dale's fabulous music room.)

Rod and Dale have always been most gracious hosts.  I have stayed with
them three times, and Doug twice, and it's always such a great pleasure
to visit them.

On August 13, Doug and I had lunch with opera-l'er Andrew Cooper and
William Hinds at Ray's Boathouse.  The food was quite fine.  Doug and I
hadn't seen Seattle's _T & I_ at that point, so it was interesting to
hear Andrew's typically British level-headed opinion of Jane and Ben's
show.  Opera-l'er Jeff Anderson, whom Doug and I first met when he came
down to L.A. from Berkeley with Steve Johnson and Matt Austern to see
Eaglen at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago, was also staying with Rod
and Dale, so the three of us went to the Opera with great anticipation.
Opera-l'er John Ardoin had e-mailed me earlier for a get-together, so we
met him in front of the Opera for opera chats.  I was standing near the
Seattle Millo pole during intermissions, but I didn't notice any other
opera-l'ers.

When I joined the opera-l a little over five years ago, I may have been
a puppy-eyed opera naif, but after reading tens of thousands of opera-l
posts by certified curmudgeons and grouches :-), I fear that I have
become one myself over the years, so, when unabashedly raving reviews
started to pour in, the skeptic in me was brought out.  But these
enthusiastic reviews turned out to be true!  Jane Eaglen and Ben Heppner
really delivered.  Eaglen is a true hochdramatisch soprano, and her tone
was secure and, above all, beautiful whether she was singing piano or
fff, her pitch was accurate, and her breath control phenomenal.  She
didn't seem to get tired at all even at the end.  That this was her very
first esssay at this role was incredible.  She made the role of Isolde
sound easy!  Ben Heppner sang the role of Tristan very beautifully, too,
but I also felt that this role represented the absolute limit of what he
can do.  He was absolutely riveting in Act 3, but as a few people
noticed, I thoughat he was being somewhat careful in Act 2.  When
singing was this good, it was such an overwhelming experience that
everything else including direction and sets sort of did not matter all
that much to me.  Some people seemed to take offense at several aspects
of the production, such as mopping sailors, muscle boys, etc. etc., and
I can certainly understand their points, but I was mostly happy to be
able to attend a truly well-sung performance of _Tristan und Isolde_.
With exception of Melot, whom I didn't particularly care for
singing-wise, all the other roles were sung quite well, or at least,
competently.  Armin Jordan's conducting was also very adequate--nothing
demonic, but perfectly okay.

After the performance, the four opera-l'ers--John, Jeff, Doug and I--had
a great time over drinks discussing opera and other stuff.  Listening to
John Ardoin, who actually knows opera singers well, talk about his
experiences with them was truly a delightful experience.  It must have
been around 2 a.m. that we finally returned to Rod and Dale's house.
--
Nakamura Akira
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
"We're here, we're queer, and we love opera!" (c) Didi
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