Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Did someone say blut?

As its been noted, James Levine and the Met Orchestra are just freaking exquisite in the Met Wozzeck. Every detail is impeccable and deeply felt, the architecture utterly seamless--every time you think the magic has to end, some new wellspring is tapped, and a fresh utterly organic direction is found and followed to its conclusion. Revelatory moments pour out of the densely woven texture and the last 20 minutes especially are simply spine-tingling. It's really, really great.

Maybe too great? By the third act I found myself almost craving the scene changes so I wouldn't be all distracted by the people. For one thing, the balance between orchestra and singers was off, and almost all the singers besides Alan Held (Wozzeck) found themselves drowned out at one point or another.

But more to the point, the happenings onstage just didn't work all that well dramatically. Not that I really fault anyone in the cast: Alan Held was ferocious in the title role; Kristian Dalayman stunning as Marie, buttressed by a supporting cast of very strong actor-singers.

I think J will have more on this count, but somehow things just don't come together as far as the production is concerned. The creepy/shocking buttons don't get pushed, the theatrical climaxes aren't quite reached, despite the marvelous music being made. While I certainly wasn't bored, I wasn't terribly engaged in the drama either.

One related problem might be the annoying choice of dropping the curtain as the final notes of a scene were being sung. Nice in that it hastened the chance to sit back and listen to Jimmy and his magic band, but bad in that it screwed up the pacing and gave the whole thing a weird workmanlike feel at odds with the tone being set by the pit.

This was my first hearing, so perhaps I was expecting something different drama-wise. As I am now officially very into it, time to go to the tape and find out.

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