Bergitas here. I was blown away last night by Bryn Terfel, singing
Mozart and Wagner at the Ravinia Festival. I can't think of another
voice that impresses me more for sheer size and splendor. But I
appreciate not only his gorgeous voice, but also the musical way with
which he uses it. I also enjoyed Maestro Eschenbach and his energetic
( and crystal clear) conducting; it made me want to grab an oboe and
start playing along! (And I don't even play the oboe!)
The Wagner is what most interested me and it did not disappoint. It
was neat to hear the Tannhauser overture again, having seen the opera at
the Vienna State Opera. It's impossible, of course, to accurately
compare an open-air amplified performance with one in a warm opera house
acoustic - but I was struck by how the Chicago strings do not really
compare with that incredible Vienna sound. On the other hand, the
brass that brings the climaxes home were in full glory last night and
Eschenbach led a fully secure performance that brought down the house.
Terfel's Song to the Evening Star struck me as a bit undersung at the
start - but on the other hand, it's so nice to hear someone with an
enormous voice willing to use it with some restraint and sensitivity.
The aria proper was quite impressive, although I probably prefer the
honey-toned sound of Hakegard in this music. But this was beautiful,
if in a "bassier" way . As for Wotan's Farewell, we were certainly
hearing a work in progress - but what a marvelous start! Terfel
already sings this music so confidently - already securely inside the
role of Wotan - and I expect him to be doing great things with this
role onstage before too long. . . just as Mr. Morris is probably
thinking about a successor.
I was struck by the warmth with which the audience seemed to embrace
Terfel. Maybe we should stop looking for the Fourth Tenor and celebrate
an artist sof this magnitude, who combines magnificent vocal goods with
exceptional intelligence and musicality - with a dash of sex appeal and
a pinch of personal warmth to boot.
Greg Berg Racine, WI
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