David Robertson

The Death of Klinghoffer at the Met

Kling_1463a* Notes * 
A sixth Metropolitan Opera performance of John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer (Act II, Scene 2 pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) was held last Saturday. There were a handful of protesters with signs reading "Shame on Peter Gelb Met Opera" and so forth. The opera itself is not particularly contentious, if anything, it is a mild, mournful piece. The characters are shown as rather human, and of course there was a choice line from Leon Klinghoffer regretting his hatlessness. One imagines that this production might not be as well-attended were it not for the vehemence of the demonstrators.

The orchestra had a graceful clarity under the baton of David Robertson. The strings were particularly lucid, as were the woodwinds. The Met chorus also sounded strong and cohesive.

The principal singers all seemed suited to their roles. It was a joy to hear former Adler Fellows Sean Pannikar (Molqi) and Maya Lahyani (Palestinian Woman). Bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock had a strikingly disturbing aria as Mamoud in Act I, Scene 2. Baritone Paulo Szot made for an appropriately conflicted Captain. Baritone Alan Opie (Leon Klinghoffer) sang his finale aria with gravitas. Mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens was poignant as Marilyn Klinghoffer, her voice is rich and full.

Tom Morris' production makes use of projected text and historical photographs. The text is somewhat burdensome, and the photographs less so. The effect of the bright sun in Act II is haunting. The dancing, choreographed by Arthur Pita, is impressive, especially in the case of Jesse Kovarsky (Omar).

* Tattling * 
I repeatedly hushed the woman behind me in Family Circle, as she spoke during the quietest parts of the music at the beginning of Act I. She informed me that she was reading the projected text that she could see to the two blind women she was with, and I sheepishly apologized at intermission.

I moved down to the right side of the last row of the Grand Tier to sit with some friends. A young composer seated near us may have spoken quite a lot during the music, but it was difficult muster annoyance at this, having already been so mortified by my own previous behavior.

Robertson conducts SFS in Dvořák

David-robertson-michael-tammaro* Notes * 
David Robertson (pictured left, photograph by Michael Tammaro) conducts San Francisco Symphony in Rossini, Chopin, and Dvořák this week. The overture to L'italiana in Algeri that opened yesterday's performance sounded neat and precise. Chopin's Concerto No. 2 in F minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 21 also was together and clean. The soloist, Nelson Freire, seemed contained and self-possessed. His quiet playing was most impressive, especially in the Larghetto.

After the intermission the orchestra gave a tidy rendition of Dvořák's 7th. The middle movements, the Poco adagio and the Scherzo: Vivace, were jaunty and charming. The brass sounded clear.

* Tattling * 
There was a lot of talking during the first half of the performance, at least on the odd numbered side of the orchestra level. A woman in Row U Seat 9 even opened up her purse during the last movement of the Chopin, and passed out candies to her friends in Row W. Much crinkling followed as they opened their sweets. Most of the noisiest patrons around us did not return after intermission.

Robertson conducts St. Louis Symphony

David-robertson * Notes * 
The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra came to San Francisco for two performances at Davies Hall, the first of which occurred yesterday evening. David Robertson had the musicians well in hand, they seemed entirely together and produced a gorgeous, clear sound. The performance started with Christopher Rouse's Rapture, which has an apt title and did sound quite like spiritual exaltation. The trombones were particularly fine in their playing. Gil Shaham joined the orchestra as the soloist for Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor. The second movement was stunning, and the low strings were especially moving. Shaham's playing was vivid.

The second half of the program began with Sibelius' Symphony No. 7 in C Major. The brass section was lucid, and the horns were exceptionally good. The Vivacissimo was just that, spirited and brilliant, and the tempi in general seemed appropriate. The performance ended with the Doctor Atomic Symphony from John Adams, who was sitting in Loge A. The piece sounded beautiful, and the trumpet solo was absolutely ravishing.

* Tattling * 
Though San Francisco Symphony very kindly provides press tickets to me, I still have a subscription and occasionally buy single tickets in the Center Terrace. There was some light snoring during the second movement of the Prokofiev, but very little noise until the last piece. A plump, grey-haired woman old enough to be my grandmother just behind me was speaking at full volume during John Adams, and after turning around once to express my displeasure, to no avail, I was forced to hushed her. She leaned over and hissed "Bitch" into my hair, to which I could only laugh. After the ovation, I asked her if she had really hurled an expletive at me during the performance, to which she responded "Why, yes I did." I thanked her for being quiet for the rest of the performance, and her companion told me that I should hear the things she calls him.