The Wellsung blog aspires, in the new season, to crawl out of our deep hole of obsolescence. We will attempt to post with our former regularity and provide frank, unfiltered, and on occasion, thoughtful comments on the season's offerings.
One major shake-up: My dear friend and blogging buddy Alex has moved to Chicago. Yes, it's as depressing as it sounds; thank goodness for those $39 each way fares on Southwest. Alex will now officially head up the Chicago office of Wellsung, while I keep the home fires burning in New York. Between him and me, and regular offerings from my parents in San Francisco, we should be able to cover a lot of territory between now and June.
And of course, we will still IM with a frequence and level of sophistication approaching that of middle school girls. So, um, stay tuned for that.
LASTLY, WE WILL BE INVITING MEG RYAN AND SIMULCASTING OUR BLOG ON JUMBOTRONS IN BOTH TIMES SQAURE AND LINCOLN CENTER PLAZA!!
HOLY CRAP. Last night was insane!!
Me likey the Gelb.
A quick note on the event--the parade of celebrities, video screen simulcasts, tacky rich ladies in f-ing ugly kimonos (yes, the Upper East Side dusted off their finest KIMONOS (Kimoni?)), Melissa Rivers interviewing Licia...well, maybe she was there. This was spectacle at its finest. The whole thing had me giggling from the moment we emerged from the 1 train. The best part of this whole circus was that everyone truly seemed to be having a total blast. It made me really happy. It truly felt like a massive celebration of a massive rethinking of the way opera is marketed and perceived by the general consuming public. I am hoping the message I took away from the frenzy is in fact the intention of the new administration:
We're not going to mess with the product. We ARE going to make sure people know it's here and accessible.
I hope I'm right--fingers nervously crossed on this one. I am 100% in support of building audiences, as long as the quality of the work remains at the highest possible level. We shall see. I am optimistic.
As for Madama Butterfly (oh right, that.)...
I have no criticisms of this heartbreakingly beautiful, perfectly conceived production by Anthony Minghella. Every design element is in perfect harmony with the others, and the performers' movements within these elements result in some of the most sublime theatrical moments I have seen on any stage in this city. It is truly breathtaking, and a massive, massive accomplishment. Mr. Minghella and his team of designers were unquestionably the stars of the evening.
James Levine, in his one-performance-only appearance as the conductor of this production, lead the orchestra in an energized, intelligent reading of one of Puccini's most emotionally wrought scores. It was Mr. Levine's first outing conducting this particular piece in its entirety. He has certainlhy faced many a more daunting challenge, but met this one with elegance and apparent ease.
On a slightly more troubling note, the singing was on par with neither the production's artistry, nor the event's bombast. Marcello Giordani's Pinkerton had some lovely moments, as did Dwayne Croft's Sharpless and Maria Zifchak's particularly robust reading of Suzuki. They all turned in very solid, reliable, and unremarkable performances. But on to the lady of the evening...
I am sorry to report that Cristina Gallardo-Domas is sort of a mess. She has nothing on top, and lacks the breath support to survive key phrases. Consequently, several of the piece's more iconic moments fell flat. REALLY flat. She was missing notes here and there by upwards of a whole step. When she DID reach them, she couldn't sustain them anywhere near their full value. This is supposedly her "signature" role. Considering that, I'd think she would at least be able to at least sing all the notes. Perhaps on a night with less pressure she will deliver something a bit more solid--all eyes were truly on her, and that can't be easy.
That said, this is one of those rare productions that is unquestionably worth experiencing regardless of the very real vocal shortcomings of the leading lady. And the crowd seemed to like her more than I did, anyhow.
Then again...wearing that costume, under that brilliant lighting plot, and descending Minghella's massive raked stage toward an audience more hungry for a thrilling evening that any I can remember...you could stick just about anyone up there and they'd be likely to get a standing ovation.