From the House of the Dead at the Met
November 24, 2009
* Notes *
Leoš Janáček's final opera, Z Mrtvého Domu (From the House of the Dead) had a third performance at the Met last Saturday evening. The production marked the debuts of both conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and director Patrice Chéreau in this house. The austere staging featured a monolithic grey set from Richard Peduzzi, yet was not static as there was much movement of people and stage elements, not to mention some startling effects with massive amounts of paper. The incorporation of the supertitles into the set was cunning, though unfortunately prone to technical difficulties, in this case an error message was displayed prominently at the end of the opera. Also, the choreography could be rather too loud, a distraction from the music.
Salonen had the orchestra under control, producing a beautiful sound that supported the singers. There were only a few harsh, muddy moments in the brass. The ensemble cast was well-rounded. Tenors Stefan Margita (Luka/Filka Morozov) and Kurt Streit (Skuratov) played off each other at the end of Act I, both have fine, but distinct, voices. Streit sang quite mournfully in Act II, with good volume and warmth. In Act III, baritone Peter Mattei portrayed Shishkov with conviction, his desperation and anguish were evident.
* Tattling *
The back of the Family Circle had rows of empty seats, and by the time the music started, only two people were in standing room.