Athalia at PBO
Die Walküre at the Met (Schenk)

Das Rheingold at the Met (Schenk)

Ken-Howard-Met-Opera * Notes * 
The second cycle of the Met's Der Ring des Nibelungen began yesterday night. The orchestra sounded very clean and restrained under James Levine. The tempi were often rather slow. All of the singing was solid, though not terribly exciting. As Wotan, Albert Dohmen did well, though his voice was a bit thin at times. Yvonne Naef had
some very lovely, pleading moments as Fricka. Wendy Bryn Harmer (Freia) had some shrillness, as did the Rheintöchter. Richard Paul Fink (Alberich) gave a particularly convincing performance, he was brutish, and his singing in Scene 4 was heartrending. Dennis Petersen failed to steal the show as Loge, as can happen in this opera, but did not sing poorly. The giants were grand, their voices are distinct, René Pape (Fasolt) was sweet, John Tomlinson (Fafner) was mean, and all was as it should be, one supposes. Wendy White's Erda was most moving, though she was a bit shaky at first, she sang her words of warning with much authority.

The Otto Schenk production is amusingly campy, though I imagine that this was not the intent. Though servicable, the rock formations of the set look especially dated. One does appreciate how quickly the sets are changed, and without all the banging and such that we hear at some other opera houses. The staging itself was occasionally hilarious, from Freia's fey bouncing back and forth across the stage to Alberich's transformations in Scene 3. Fasolt's death did not have the appropriate gravitas, having Fafner throw him off stage, and then attack him with a walking stick/scepter was somehow ridiculous.

* Tattling * 
The performance began 10 minutes late, and the line to get in the house was enormous. Certain people in the last row of the Family Circle refused to be quiet. They spoke at full volume all night, despite repeated admonitions from fellow audience members and even an usher. A watch alarm sounded the hour of 9, as Loge made his first appearance. There were many buzzes and squeaks throughout the evening, perhaps from either hearing aids or microphones.

My companion in standing room guffawed at Fasolt's death. He did have to cope with my jet-lag induced antisness, I was constantly fidgeting for the first half, and did not get a second wind until the anvil part that opens the third scene.