* Notes *
A double-bill of Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung opened at Seattle Opera this evening. The two works were originally directed by Robert Lepage for the Canadian Opera Company, but were directed by François Racine in Seattle. The Bartók was stunning, though the orchestra was not always perfect under Evan Rogister, the music is compelling and the production does not get in the way. Michael Levine's set and costumes were understated, the clean lines were pleasing but offered surprises. Only the interaction at the end between the three other wives and Judith seemed a bit too obvious. The media effects, designed by Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy, were striking without being overwhelming.
As for singing, Malgorzata Walewska (Judith) had incredible moments, her voice has warmth, but it is also somewhat wobbly. There were points in which she was simply shrieking. John Relyea seemed a bit blunt at first as Bluebeard, though his voice is lovely. He was impressively mournful after the opening of the sixth door, as he sings about tears.
Erwartung involved more acrobatics. The piece seemed interminable, though it was a mere 30 minutes long, even with all of the visual effects and overt illustrations of narrative. Susan Marie Pierson sang well, she had good control and was never shrill.
* Tattling *
The hall was not full, and though there was a little talking during the music, it was very minimal. Afterward, a person asked us if these were the worst operas we had seen, and we responded in the negative. Apparently he had not enjoyed himself at all, and has attended at least a hundred opera performances.