Saturday, December 01, 2007

Not without mein schatten

Getting reasonable seats at Lyric is kind of a bitch. The Lyric Fam Circ, called "Balcony 9" or something, is priced at $31, but unlike the Fam Circ, which is only really far away, Balcony 9 is really REALLY far away. And more expensive. They do have $20 student tix, which get you in the very back of the main floor, but getting them is also a bitch. They only tell you if they are available for a certain performance about 2 weeks in advance, and they tend to sell out quickly, so if you miss your email, you're screwed. And you have to order them through the website, and then go to this special window away from the regular will call. Lyric ends up selling out most of their shows, so I don't blame them for not working to make it more friendly, but if some wealthy donor feels like it, by all means.

Blerg. Anyhow, onto the FroSch. Anyone who heard that kick ass broadcast the other weekend can understand that expectations were way high (see Dannato, M). And it was a fine show for sure, but not quite the earth shattering business one might have hoped for.

Robert Dean Smith sounded like a bit of a chore on the radio, but in person it was really a liability. He scores about 50 percent of the money notes (which is like half the role) but the other 50 percent were kind of brutal. Maybe total reliability isn't a reasonable expectation for your run of the mill Emperor, but it needs to be better than this.

Franz Hawlata was suffering from a cold (and Jill Grove was full on sick--definitely one of the more nerve-wracking pre-show announcements) which seemed to manifest only in a handful passages and at the very end of the show. Otherwise he was lovely.

I don't remember the name of Jill Grove's cover for the Nurse, but she did a tremendous job. Great, non-harpy rendition--no lumps. But enough of the small fish.

DVo: So, I have seen the DV live thrice prior to this, all in context of beloved 'pre' recordings. Forza was meh, as was Tosca. Salome was tremendous. FroSch is right on up her alley. Yet I would be lying if I said there weren't moments when I wasn't thinking "oh, that's the part of new DV I don't like so much". When she goes up top with the full commitment, it is immaculate. When it is semi-committed, there is on occasion a fleeting inconsistency. In the middle, there is this--oh, how to describe--nasaly thing? Pinchediness? I dunno. But one must admit that one doesn't love it. But enough of that. When it was good, mercy was it good.

Brewer! That is some shit, yo. Wow. I heard her Isolde from SFO on the radio the other week, and it was great to hear that marvelousness in person. Unfortunately, I felt like she was holding back a tad in the 3rd Act duet due to Hawlata's cold, or something. Ditto for her and Voigt in the quartet, for a while at least. But we finally got a glimpse of the full power for both of them, and it was quite a thing.

Andrew Davis: Man, FroSch is hard. I mean, Salome is hard, but at least its clear what needs to be done. But FroSch gives no such roadmap. I felt like there was less ecstatic Strauss goodness than I wanted...maybe some reluctance to overpower the singers? There was some sort of disconnect--perhaps a balance thing. I was also sitting under the orchestra overhang, so there may have been some dampening. But that said, the detail was marvelous, and the Lyric Orchestra played with fantastic polish and sensitivity.

The production is kind of exactly what you might expect from a company like Lyric putting on FroSch. The spirit realm bit was often priddy, if not especially inventive. The human realm kind of looked like a disco Ewok village. But what are you going to do?


Lisa Hirsch said...

You know, I suddenly feel relieved that I did not spring for the plane and opera tickets to see this one. Yeah, Brewer is a miracle, such beauty, freshness, and control. I do love her. I saw Tristan twice and FORGOT about the radio broadcast; I could have it on tape or MP3....

Unknown said...

Ditto Lisa. I mean, I'd love to go to Chicago and hang out with Alex, but at least now I can choose the date.

Alex said...

Lisa: Oh man. Brewer was the real deal in that Tristan. I was floored. So lucky you got to see it twice.

JRD said...

To Alex or Jonathan:

I'm glad you had the chance to see La Brewer live! I was there two weeks ago when Frau opened. I was taken to a new dimension, all via Brewer's phenomenal voice!

Brewer is the greatest Strauss singer in the world today. Simple as that.

I dream of seeing her as Violetta, I don't why...


Anonymous said...

Brewer is fantastic. What can't she do? I long to hear her Brunnhilde. And her album of Strauss lieder is spectacular.

What about Brewer as Norma? I've heard this idea floated before. Discuss.

Inspired by Sigelinde's advocay of Dolora and Stephanie, what about a MET Norma with Brewer and Zajick alternating as Norma and Zajick and Blythe alternating as Adalgisa? That would give us some cool pairings (Brewer/Zajick, Brewer/Blythe, Zajick/Blythe).

This is nowhere near as crazy as my fantasy about 2 years ago of a Cosi with Bartoli, Graham, and Upshaw each singing a different part each night.


Henry Holland said...

Alex, your review didn't mention the physical beauty of the singer doing The Apparition of a Youth. Anthony Tommasini would like a word with you! :-)

BTW, the Yahoo group OperaShare has a recording of the LOC Frau up for download; unfortunately, new membership is closed unless you're recommended.

J. Valois said...

I pretty much agree....check out my review of the opera.