Yesterday, I wrapped up my New York trip with two great performances.
On a rare excursion into the world of theatre I went to the Duke Theatre on 42 Street to see Arin Arbus' production of Shakespeare's Macbeth with John Douglas Thompson and Annika Boras as the evil couple. The intimate, small space of the Duke made for a truly visceral experience. It felt like sitting in the play rather than watching it. Very powerful.
When James Levine, returning from a series of recent cancellations, stepped in the pit yesterday evening the Met audience greeted him with a thunderous ovation, one of the most moving moments in my years of attending performances at the house. The performance that followed did everybody proud, the maestro, the excellent cast (Alan Held as Wozzeck and Waltraud Meier as Marie) and the fabulous Met Orchestra. When I saw Alan Held (coming to the COC as Simone and Gianni Schicchi next season) on stage after the performance he asked: "So, when are we doing this in Toronto?" I would love to take him on. For me, Wozzeck belongs to the very small group of operas that I call the perfect pieces. My last Wozzeck was in Paris in 2008 and I can't wait to do it again.
Fog permitting I will be back in Toronto before noon for the joint concert of the members of the Atelier lyrique from Montreal and our own Ensemble Studio singers, our annual Fine Wine Auction (at Crush Wine Bar, from 6 p.m. tonight) and the first on-stage rehearsal of La Cenerentola.
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The Met's new production of Rossini's Le Comte Ory is a stunning piece of casting. Having Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato and Stéphane Degout share the same stage is almost too good to be true and they all were in fabulous form last night.
I'm here for two busy days of meetings and performances. Yesterday, I had lunch with Rufus Wainwright and Laurie Anderson. Now I'm off to see Catherine Malfitano, Edith Wiens, a new production of Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Duke Theatre and tonight I'll be back at the Met for Berg's Wozzeck.
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Of the Strauss operas Capriccio has never been a particular favourite of mine. I have always felt that the piece, Strauss's final opera (premiered in 1942, in the middle of World War II) not only lacks the immediacy and dramatic urgency of his master operas written in the first decades of the 20th century, but also shows an almost shocking disconnect with the political reality of the 1940s.
However, I have to admit that I enjoyed the performance at the Met on Monday evening enormously. John Cox's production, lovingly and with great attention to detail revived by Peter McClintock, serves the piece extremely well and I couldn't imagine a better cast than the Met's, led by Renée Fleming, Peter Rose, our Canadians Joseph Kaiser and Russell Braun, and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis with his very fine sense for the orchestral marvels and the humour of the score.
Sitting there on Monday evening, it made me proud to think how great it will be to have Sir Andrew for Ariadne auf Naxos this coming May and for the double bill (Florentine Tragedy and Gianni Schicchi) next season; and how great to have Joe and Russell together in Iphigénie en Tauride - and Russell in L'amour de loin next season.
Wonderful things are going to happen at the COC.
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