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How the Met makes a turkey of Les Troyens. First, put the Greeks in diapers.

Our New York opera critics Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E Milnes have been to see the Trojans at the Metroplitan Opera. They stayed awake, and right to the end. Many didn’t.

Here’s what Elizabeth and Shawn did during the less interesting bits.

troyens2

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Comments

  1. Petros Linardos says:

    Maybe it is newsworthy to report Eurotrash nonsense from the MET. After all, it was one of the last havens of naturalistic productions until Peter Gelb took over.

    On the other hand, Eurotrash is business as usual in Europe. Why don’t we hear that much in this blog about the visually awful productions taking place on the other side of the Atlantic?

    • Norman,

      I suspect we would love to hear from the “many” who did not stay awake. I have seen the production and quite enjoyed it.

      1. There is too much ballet.
      2. Part 2 is much more riveting than Part 1, which dragged at a couple of points.
      3. Hymel is spectacular.
      4. I hope Bishop will be given further assignments. She was a wonderful Didon. Very sensitive, if lacking the French stylings of Graham.
      5. Voigt was the weakest member of the main cast, although as is normal, some comments online are far too critical. I enjoyed her performance. The final scene was very fine singing and riveting.
      6. The fact that anyone thinks of a diaper in that scene suggests more about the viewer.
      7. The stage is too cluttered too much of the time.
      8. This is nothing like Eurotrash, but it is an interpretation unique for the Met.
      9. The conducting was a bit by the numbers, which I think is the cause for the dragging spots.

    • “Eurotrash is business as usual in Europe”

      In that case, it isn’t newsworthy, is it?

  2. Don’t Get Me Started HERE. I went just to hear Ms. Graham and was treated to her dreadful replacement. Yes, Hymel was terrific. But, if it wasn’t for his Act V cracker of a show-stopper, I would have sent a nasty note to the MET. I was 5 VERY VERY long hours indeed.

  3. Harry Kessler says:

    These two kids are an embarrassment. If they were in the least astute, their snarkiness (and outright igonorance) might be amusing, but no such luck. But this is all contrived, New Yorky attitude overlayered with a lot of pseudo-naivete. Boring — and way below LeBrecht standards.

    • Daniel Farber says:

      You are absolutely right, Harry! Norman enjoys bashing Peter Gelb (and also James Levine when he’s around), and anything that even indirectly takes Gelb down he’s going to print, even these sophomoric kids who really don’t know very much. On the other hand, Norman does so much that is good in our world that I can always cut him a little or even a lot of slack.

  4. Paleo-opera: natural opera, the opera that we evolved to make before like government started messing with it.

  5. Laurence Glavin says:

    I’m going to see it at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, Massachusetts rather than the nearest movie theater. Shalin Liu offers far superior sound vis a vis the typical cinema, so even if I don’t particularly like what’s on-screen, I’ll luxuriate in the sound of Berlioz. We Bostonians just LOVE Berlioz. It’s in our DNA…the Charles Munch gene.

  6. Daniel Farber says:

    The problem with the current Les Troyens at the Met Opera is not the production but rather a Cassandra (Deborah Voigt), who is either unwilling or unable to project a role that now lies too low for what remains of her best voice and a conductor (Fabio Luisi) who has no feeling for the extraordinary in Berlioz’s score and for whom, even in the fourth performance (December 26) was still experiencing difficulty keeping the trains on the right tracks. Even the heroics of the wonderful Bryan Hymel (the Met’s pinch-hitter in the role of Aeneus) and some fine singing by others in subordinate roles could not entirely salvage the evening.

  7. Yes Addison says:

    American director Francesca Zambello is Eurotrash? I don’t see what is particularly European or Regietheater in the aesthetic here. Her production is not a new product of the Gelb era, either. It is ten years old. Gelb’s predecessor Joseph Volpe described it in his memoir as “stunning…the hottest ticket in town,” and he was the one who was always engaging the sainted Zeffirelli. Who, by the way, actually *was* European and sometimes trashy, in his middlebrow-kitschy way.

    The Frayer/Milnes team seems uncomfortable with abstraction and would have preferred adherence to some notion of ancient-times period-wear. I think inflexibility on this point is limiting, but they’re entitled to their preference. Beyond that, my main takeaway from their piece is that they went to a 19th-century French grand opera (a frequently beautiful and majestic one) and discovered that there are a lot of dances in it, and that it was a long evening. I’m surprised anyone would go to a performance of “Troyens” and not know that in advance. This is like writing about attending a Mozart opera and complaining about all the recitatives with harpsichord.

    This has been a disappointing revival, yes, but not IMO because some of the costumes are going to remind someone of Japan or someone appeared to be wearing a diaper. The singing in the lead roles (Graham aside) and Luisi’s conducting cannot match what the Met presented when the production premiered ten years ago, let alone the now-legendary casts who starred in the previous production (which was panned as static and ineffective) in the 1970s and 1980s: Ludwig, Verrett, Vickers; Troyanos, Norman, Domingo.

  8. Norman, thank you for posting this ‘review’. Without it I would have missed the oppurtunity today of experiencing profound misanthropy and a survey of the human condition of the most bitter cynicism.
    I attended the Dec. 21 performance of Les Troyens at the Met and found it captivating. One could quibble about this or that but it is a magnificent spectacle and a monument to the extraordinary and under appreciated genius of Berlioz. To all of you who found it dull or whatever, stop looking and start listening. I will never forget that evening not because of any particular facet of performance or staging, but because it was a rare chance to experience a huge and glorious masterpiece much as the composer intended.
    To react to it as this ‘critic’ did gives rise to some very unpleasant thoughts. The insipid observations about diapers, milk bars, tourists, lobby-gazing – this is what you came away from Les Troyens with? You heard some of the wittiest and most charming ballet music and you were daydreaming about your apartment? And… you admit it? This goes well beyond cluelessness to a raw exhibition of cultural vacuity and nihilism. It says far more about the reviewer than the opera. Yes, a critic is free to write what they please but they must also accept the consequences; I deplore your shallowness, your ignorance, your egocentrism. I usually suffer fools in silence but the strain of poisonous idiocy on display here must be answered with all due ridicule and contempt, fortissimo.

    • What You Said. Times Ten.

    • That strikes me as rather harsh, JJC. I enjoyed reading the linked-to review; even if you didn’t, you could at least appreciate it as an honest set of thoughts on an evening at the opera.
      Just because you find Berlioz’s score to be witty and charming doesn’t mean that that’s how the orchestra played it, or that that’s how it came across. There’s no point in a critic reviewing a play saying the script is wonderful, if they omit to comment that the acting is terrible, is there? If no-one comments on the things that could, or should be done better, then there’s little to drive improvement. There is no idiocy here, far lass “poisonous”. I don’t see why you would think of the critic as ignorant, nor egocentric, nor the review “bitterly” cynical. Were we reading the same article?
      It is, or should be, useful to know how members of the audience actually felt about the whole experience, and in many ways I would prefer to read about that (the piece is entertaining in its own way) than a dry, pretentious “opera critic” waffling on, displaying their knowledge of long words in a more “proper” publication.

      • Yes, and if I had bedbugs Anon, I could ‘at least appreciate’ that they were devouring my flesh. You miss my point, entirely.

        • OK, maybe I missed your point. I’ve re-read, and still all I get it “I enjoyed this production of a work I consider to be excellent. They didn’t enjoy it, therefore they must be idiotic and vacuous”, which doesn’t strike me as entirely fair, particularly expressed as strongly as you do. Surely they are free to derive enjoyment or otherwise from a production without fear of hard criticism like this?

  9. I have just returned from the HD relay of Les Troyens. After seeing it in the house, I wanted to compare the HD and see Susan Graham.

    Being in the movie theater significantly smoothed the tedium of the ballet sections; I was able to sit back and enjoy the music.

    Graham was spectacular – she simply must be the best Dido singing today; her presence truly elevated the entire performance. She called this performance her “Brunnhilde” and I believe it may be her greatest work ever in a long, distinguished career.

    Hymel also extraordinary again. Voigt kicked it up a notch, as her entire performance was far more firey and truly excellent. Wonderful to see her succeeding. Great cast.

    Interviews of both leading ladies also some of the best this season.

    The orchestra on excellent form, if not at the same level that they were under Levine. Luisi is a wonderful man but not the man for this orchestra.

    While not perfect, it was an absolutely wonderful day of opera watching. A very cursory check of social media shows similar comments from many others worldwide – only complaints being registered are of too much ballet, which is understandable, and with which I agreed.

    I am sorry for those who took reviews like this one posted here to heart instead of experiencing an operatic masterpiece for themselves.

    • Also What You Said. I have never been to the Met so don’t have the opportunity to bash it in real time. I enjoyed the ballet – it seems to be an integral part of French opera (baroque, Gluck . . .)

    • Irene Leger says:

      I agree with your comments. I went to the movie theater knowing it would be a long opera so I went rested and prepared. I thought the singing was superb from the principals and from the chorus. I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Les Troyens.

  10. blanche brown says:

    I thought Les Troyens was perfection – great dancing, exquisite music, creative clothing, all around
    a nearly perfect production – excellent singing and acting. WOW some of you are quite insensitive
    and unaware, to put it mildly.

  11. The most disappointing thing about the Les Troyens discussion is that it started with the introduction “Our New York opera critics Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E Milnes”. Who are these people and when were they raised – and by whom – to the status of “opera critics”? I was delighted that JJC refers to them as ‘critic’ and their piece as ‘review’ and agree wholeheartedly with his beautifully turned phrasing.

    If I start a blog about opera, it’s a blog and I am a blogger. If I am commissioned by someone with the appropriate expertise about the subject and about me to write about an opera performance, perhaps the piece is a review, but I do not even then suddenly become an opera critic. If I commission myself to write about my evening daydreaming at the opera and post my musings on my blog, I am not an opera critic.

    If you visit the source of the Troyens piece, you will discover two – only two – useful pieces of information about the authors. First, the surprising one – they appear to be adults. Second, the fairly obvious and re-assuring one – their writings about their other evenings at the Met are as well-informed and as solidly based on a wealth of operatic experience as the one on Les Troyens. And one useful tidbit about the price of smoked salmon sandwiches at the Met – $16. Or is it $17? The authors cannot seem to be able to make up their mind(s).

    It is often hard to know if an internet piece has any gravitas, but please let’s call a spade a spade.

    • The definition of ‘opera critic’ has altered in the past decade beyond recognition. We have discussed the topic elsewhere and will doubtless return to it before long. As far as Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E. Milnes are concerned, they are a young, engaged couple who love opera ad go often, on their own dollar. One is knowledgeable, the other is learning. I am intrigued by their shared experience and am happy to public the results. If you don’t like, look away – as I do from so many so-called ‘professional’ opera critics.

  12. Gloria Etes says:

    I very much enjoyed the simulcast of Les Troyens today at the Crystal Lake, Illinois, movie theater. The singing was wonderful. Hector Berlioz’ orchestration is unbelievably amazing, and he wrote the libretto too. Fantastique! Yes, there was a lot of dancing, but what else are you going to do with the many instrumental passages in the opera. I am going to see it again when they repeat it because it will probably be a long time before it is done again at the Met or anywhere else in the US.

  13. Sarah Hill says:

    We went to see the live transmission at our local cinema in Stoke on Trent in the UK last night. I thought it may well have been a ‘worthy’ evening rather than a riveting one but I was wrong -it was great and I really enjoyed it. Some bits went on a bit -too much dancing, for instance but I was never bored for an instant. The chances of my ever going to the Met for real are pretty damned remote but I really enjoy these opportunities. Nor am I likely ever to see another production of Les Troyens to make comparisons, but you never know….

  14. Hi: I just watched this on Live Relay in England last night and it was truly magnificent. Berlioz’s work is difficult to pull off but the whole performance, the entire five hours was riveting. I am very disappointed at the nasty vile ridden review written by your two reviewers who seem to have failed pathetically in their attempt to sound ‘cool’ with their ignorant comments. They only end up demonstrating their own ignorance, vacuity, and shallowness. The poster JJC makes some valuable comments here. I couldn’t recommend the post enough. These reviews are disappointing. Are you receiving reviews from stroppy, sulky teenagers in an attempt to sound cool?

  15. Saw this in HD at the DCA Cinema in Dundee, Scotland.

    Just sat back and enjoyed a wonderful night – what an immense sing for the chorus. Well presented by The Met with interesting interviews and background. Some great singing too, including local Scottish singer Karen Cargill – special applause for her in Dundee!

    If I had a problem, it was with the sound: in part 1 especially, the solo singers sounded like they were in a bathroom, and the reproduction of the voice was not perfect by a long shot – a bit clipped and tinny at the top end. The chorus scenes were better and the orchestra was good too. I am not a technical person, but I did see the whole Ring Encore (in the same cinema) this summer, and the sound was much better.

    In the cinema, it was sometimes actually really difficult to tell what was onstage and what was offstage – part of the thrill of attending this in the opera house is the presence of large musical and choral forces off-stage.

  16. David Lawrence says:

    Over the last 18 years, I have seen this unique, alone it it’s class work performed:
    In 1994 at Met with Levine, Domingo, et al
    In 2001 at LSO live with Sir Colin (was so amazed I went and saw again 2 days later)
    In 2002 by the ENO with the hippie chick Trojan Women playing Ukelele’s
    In 2008 the concert version with the BSO under Levine.
    And now . . . Yesterday the relay HD production at the Shalin Lui in Rockport

    It seems that one’s perspective would have to evolve as that much life and time go by, and I do wonder how the 1994 production would stack up now . . . That said . . .

    As others have said, it is a huge and brilliant work. It extracts every available resource from a company, and, in the wrong hands can quickly become an unwieldy snoozefest.

    No so yesterday. With the exception of the ENO production (A stunning example of why some works should never be translated), I usually find myself with a sore neck from sitting bolt upright taking it all in.

    Perhaps it is age and being better able to take it all in now, but i this layman’s experience, this season’s version (at least as performed on January 5) was up in a league by itself. I had the usual sore neck afterwards, but this I frequently felt my pulse racing thoughout. I had difficulty not moving in time to the music.

    I was skeptical of watching a live relay, but the equipment was up to the task. The orchestra and voices came through clearly, perhaps more clearly than had I been sitting in the audience.

    For me, I was reminded why the Met Orchestra is one of, if not THE best orchestra(s) going. The standard of their playing continues to evolve higher and higher, and is an ongoing tribute to the (hopefully only interrupted) legacy of James Levine. The playing was full and fluid, the strings blended beautifully, sounding as one.

    My quibble would have be that Maestro Luisi seemed averse to letting the brass section really rip at the right time. Royal Hunt in the Storm was thilling and beautiful, but it did not quite induce the time and mind-expanding euphoria that it does when Messrs Davis or Levine are driving.

    However Luisi brought out other, hitherto unobserved moments of exquisiteness. The Septet, as others have noted was luminous. There are some chord changes and modulations in that piece that are like nothing else in opera. Any half -observant production can bring out the beauty in them, but ususally the Septet seems to be more of a run-up to the exquisite duet between Dido an Aneas. In this case Luisi made those modulations shimmer with sensuality and warmth.

    Staging was a league of its own too, it easily outshone the forgettable ENO production, as well as the comparatively dark and static (in retrospect) 1990 Met setting. This time the lush colors and flowing choreography revealed anemotion and sensuousness to the piece consistent with that expressed in Symphonie Fantastique.

    I don’t understand the objection to the ballet. yes there was more than in past productions but it is part of the work, and, in my opinion, rather than appearing as an afterthought as it has in many productions, in this case, I felt that it came across as being part of the production, and as such amplified it.through clearly, perhaps more clearly than had I been sitting in the audience.

    For me, I was reminded why the Met Orchestra is one of, if not THE best orchestra(s) going. The standard of their playing continues to evolve higher and higher, and is an ongoing tribute to the (hopefully only interrupted) legacy of James Levine. The playing was full and fluid, the strings blended beautifully, sounding as one.

    My quibble would have be that Maestro Luisi seemed averse to letting the brass section really rip at the right time. Royal Hunt in the Storm was thilling and beautiful, but it did not quite induce the time and mind-expanding euphoria that it does when Messrs Davis or Levine are driving.

    However Luisi brought out other, hitherto unobserved moments of exquisiteness.

  17. It really took TWO people to write that [redacted]? I have no interest in their observances at the snack bar, but it could be that is the extent of their comfort level. Parents who have raised a youngster who is not only interested in opera but who can sit still without disturbing others should be praised, not degraded. The article is a waste of time and space.
    Fact: French Grand Opera is long. Deal with it or don’t go. There are a whole bunch of folks who complain when they pay mega-bucks for a ticket and the performance is 90 minutes, so it all averages out. Ballet is a requirement in these French works- it was the dancers whom the men in the audience came to see (and from whom they selected their mistresses) and they usually spent the “singing” portions drinking in the facilities provided. Yes, the dancing added running time and by the point that the HD broadcast rolled around the corps de ballet was sloppy, but the overall effect was nice and the soloists skilled.
    I was baffled as to why the Met felt compelled to hire 30 extra chorus members. The stage was overcrowded at times, especially in the first act which didn’t add anything to the effect. The singing was first rate, with the low tessitura not holding Ms Voigt back at all. Cassandra is a rough sell, she’s not a character most can feel for, but the demands of the role are heavy and Voigt up the the task. Ms Graham was superb. There is no one who can compare to her in this role and Mr Hymel should certainly be lauded for saving this production ( we should wonder why Mr Giordani was hired in the first place considering his less than passable singing in the past). Supporting roles were not only well sung but well acted which again added to the all around appeal of this production.
    I have not been a fan of Peter Gelb’s plans and productions but he can’t be faulted for bringing this one back. Adding the genius of the creative team who worked on “Les Troyens” and this made for a great experience.

  18. Thanks for your excellent report and observations, David!

    I was also watching here in the US and loved Les Troyens!

    Regarding the many complaints about too much dancing, I think it’s important to remember that Berlioz wrote the opera that way. Ballet, or dance segments (if I recall my music history correctly) are a specific characteristic of French opera, at least up until and during Berlioz’s time. Some of the best orchestral writing is during those
    ballet sections, and that’s what I chose to concentrate on.

    I think a big problem in this production of Troyens was the quality of the dancing. It simply wasn’t up to the level of the rest of the production. With very few exceptions, it was more like background dancing, both in choreography and execution. Even the costumes were kind of rehearsal-garbishy. And it was certainly far from technically perfect. I know nothing about ballet, but noticed lots of mis-steps, and unsteadiness. If dance is going to occupy such a large percentage of the opera’s time, it should be up to snuff. It was not.

    I enjoyed everything else about Les Troyens, and agree wholeheartedly with David about the quality of the MET orchestra – truly fabulous. I only wish the camera featured the orchestra more prominently.

  19. David Lawrence says:

    The real injustice done by Frayer and Milnes piece was that they chose to lead and headline it by focusing on the trivial and admittedly silly Greek wheel/diaper vignette which lasted for what? 2 minutes, and was just one of many other events on stage at the time, to say nothing of the brilliant music that was going on. Someone who dozed for a minute, or closed their eyes would have missed it entirely.

    Leading and headlining the piece that way can only have the unavoidable effect of discounting the manifold glories of the other 5+ hours. Someone scanning the writeup was unfamiliar with Les Troyens (ie exactly the audience that needs to be drawn in) would come away with the impression that was a central theme to the plot. That was stupid.

    It’s a shame, because the rest of the writeup, which made no pretense of being informed, has exactly the kind of refreshing outsider perspective that opera needs if it is to start attracting the next generation of fans.

    As first time Met opera-goers, I think they would have done more of a service if they had to chosen remark instead on the Chagall murals, or the retracting chandeliers, or the cleverness of scoring for offstage brass choirs which can thrill anyone with a pulse, regardless of their musical proficiency. Any of these were way more siginifcant to the experience than a silly onstage side stunt.

    • I get the sense, in this and previous “reviews,” that they are attempting to be funny and cool. There is no way I believe Mr. Milnes is as inexperienced at opera-going as he suggests in these pieces, given his lineage, and this is the fourth or fifth review I’ve seen from the pair. I wonder if they do not intentionally attempt to appear inexperienced at attending the Met, although they likely are not.

      Regardless, while reviews like this can be useful, there is so much more to talk about, and their focus seems so trivial in most of their reviews that it is, unfortunately, off-putting. First time opera-goers need not be shallow.

  20. I have no idea what this website is, I was just looking around for some reactions to the recent Met Troyens. So I stumbled upon one of the most shockingly superficial, inane and embarrassing “reviews”that I’ve encountered lately,…..and it’s really shameful that this is considered a valid reaction to one of the infrequently performed, but one of the greatest opera masterworks of the nineteenth century.
    I wouldn’t have been so eager to sign my real name to it-but being the Internet, maybe it’s some kind of put on.

    I’m asking myself, then, why am I even responding to it? Who cares? But often it is the great equalizing power of the Internet, and an established web site that may delude us into thinking there is some substance there. No interest in going through the particulars (I see some have already) for almost every sentence could be negatively commented upon, but one point, the endless juvenile reaction to the opera’s length calls for a remark. Yes, it is a long opera, and an epic story and scale, but endlessly repeating that, (as far more informed reviewers than these still do) feeds the myth that it has always been saddled with (poor Berlioz) -that it is excessively long and unwieldy. But it is no longer than some others-mostly Wagner-that are regularly performed, and this idea that the 2 parts together (some houses still present it over two evenings which misses the point of the opera and the composer’s intentions.) are an unreasonable demand on the listener, needs to be stopped. It is about the length of Parsifal, shorter than Meistersinger and Goetterdaemmerung, and probably around the same length as a complete Don Carlo.

    I’m a Troyens fanatic going back to my first complete experience of it and the Met’s, in 1973 with the great Vickers. ( remarkable prima where Verrett sang both roles for an indisposed Ludwig) I’ve seen it a number of times since then with various casts, including this production, the last go round with a younger Voight, and Heppner and Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson. My experience last Sat. was on the radio-I’m not a fan of HD-and I made no plans to attend because of the casting-most notably Giordani, who I knew could never handle it. (of course, had I known Hymel was going to appear I would have eagerly gone)

    The great advantage of listening the old way is that you can have a text or score in hand, obviously you can’t see it (but since I knew the production) and I’m beginning to think-from the endless reports at movie theaters of technical glitches, and the general perception of it being too loud anyway-I still think a good listening experience just needs a radio.

    I thought Luisi a better Berlioz conductor than Wagnerian, though similarly as in Wagner he can be weakest at some of the big moments-but still very well done, and the orchestral playing was wonderful. I am appreciating Levine more now that he is gone, and he had a particular affinity with Berlioz-just listen to the 2003 recording compared to Luisi. Chorus was superb. Voight, better in her final scene, than the unacceptable earlier one, but you have to wonder if this is a leading Brunnhilde or what? Sue Graham, as I’ve always felt about her- a fine voice (maybe past its prime?), fine singer, all quite good, but just never gets too deep. I couldn’t help but comparing it to the my last live performances (in this production) with the incandescent, tragic Hunt-Lieberson, who had all the depth that Graham lacks. The applause then, after Je vais mourir and Adieu, was deafening-one of the biggest ovations in the midst of a performance I’ve ever heard, and in such a serious opera-Graham’s, adequate and proper.

    Of course the great shocker was the ease and quality of Hymel’s performance.
    I was very impressed, at least on the radio, and he is just in his early thirties-let’s hope he’s not singing on his vocal capital, and that he doesn’t get railroaded-as is almost always the case with tenors into singing what he shouldn’t. Hymel had plenty to offer in each facet of the role, and had all the high notes (never heard that before!), and I liked what he said in that intermission interview, (god when are they going to stop that gimmick) that he has his top, but the middle and lower part of his voice needs more work.

    Certainly, the biggest star of the afternoon was Troyens itself, and the opportunity to hear this remarkable work.

    • I would like to know Voigt’s physical condition. Was there not an emergency surgery that caused the cancellation of a tour? I found her excellent at the HD showing, but not nearly as mobile as during her Brunnhilde. I realized that I had not heard any information on her recuperation.

      • Ms Voigt did indeed have hip surgery- on an emergent basis- on 21 June. If you remember, she slipped and slid downstage during her initial entrance as Brunnhilde and injured herself at that time. It all caught up with her and I guess the pain became too much to be overlooked.

    • Daniel Farber says:

      Agree with nearly all you have to say, Marshall. You are an astute and sensitive listener. I never heard nor saw LH-L in the role alas but thought SG was a little deeper than you suggest. Parsifal (un-cut) in most performances goes anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes longer than Les Troyens. Luisi is a good traffic director, for the most part, and is apparently very efficient with, and respectful of, the musicians, who love him. In addition to a certain dispiriting reserve in the big moments, he has a tendency not to allow the slower music enough time to breathe. It all tends to sound a little tight-assed.

      • There can be minor differences, but it is nice to know that people have the same basic perceptions-that they were at, or heard the same performance. Sometimes that’s the only quality I look for in a review.

        I was off on the length of Don Carlo, which is still quite long,(but they often used to skip the first scene)-but am exactly right when it comes to Parsifal, and according to the Met radio schedule, including intermissions Troyens is 5:41, Parsifal 5:40, Goetter a full 6, and I’d imagine an uncut Meister would be beyond 6. I never heard of a cut Parsifal, by the way-where was the jagged butchery applied?…which was routinely the practice in olden days for Tristan (particularly) and Meister. Interestingly, there is a small scene that is cut from Troyens which was discovered and included in the Dutoit recording. I was following that libretto, and was thrown when it didn’t show up, but it’s just as well left out.

        As I said I didn’t see Graham’s Dido, but I was listening to a little of LHL’s since the broadcast, and her phrasing is, as always, remarkable, and why she seems so much more profound, is, of course, the mystery and wonder of her art. I had never heard LHL before that Troyens, when she stepped in, but it was an experience of a performer that was such a revelation, it changed my life.

        And I don’t disagree with anything you say about Luisi. Totally professional, thoroughly competent, in charge and has already done some beautiful work, but with all the crispness and clarity, and genuine insights into the music, he almost seems afraid of the “big” moments, and determined to show he will not linger over well known beauties, or underline any moment, even when they cry out for it. Yet, for much of Levine’s career I would often say some of the same things about him. He was so young when he began that he appeared to be learning on the job, and I would complain-but I came to find his later work compelling. With Luisi or anyone else, maybe it’s just the modern world-and if no one else “believes” how can the musicians.

  21. Cassandra was too weak and too old for the part, and Dido’s sister, although her voice is ravishing, simply must hit the treadmill. Otherwise, a stirring production on HD.

  22. Absurd and rude comment that comes across as juvenile and uninformed, James. Singers have to have age and experience to sing lengthy roles in large houses. What do you want, a 25 year old Cassandra? Impossible- it’s a long and physically demanding role. As for the snarky comment about Anna,again, singers with big voices tend to be larger in body simply because of the physical requirements for producing the sound. Remember, opera was never meant to be seen “up close and personal” as in the HD broadcasts. Neither Ms Voigt nor Ms Cargill deserve such disrespect based upon looks and physique.

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