Sunday, May 07, 2006
Just for the hell of it, a second look
Well I mean I was hardly going to miss Vogt's Lohengrin after the things people were saying online, right? And so I did not.
A short report, then. First of all Mattila just keeps getting better as Elsa. I've never been a hardcore Mattilist, often find there's a disconnect between the frenetic physical acting style and the voice, which has a smallish palette if you ask me. So either I haven't been giving her enough credit, or Esla is just a role that calls for exactly what she's got to give. She makes the Robert Wilson thing look like an obvious choice (though I'm going to have to paste in an image later that may ruin the production for you) and is so vocally ping-y the tiny casting agent in the mind makes little paper dolls of her and puts on Isolde costumes and such, just for fun, when no-one's looking. DeVol continues to work out in the role despite a certain vocal curdle that just isn't going anywhere. She had a few slips on high notes, forgivable at the end of the evening at the end of the run, and also really nothing compared to the unfortunately well documented Heppner mishaps. Her closing night clearance sale vamping was a special treat. Did that sound sarcastic? Because it so wasn't.
Pape is another singer I hadn't fully signed on with until last night. His turn in last season's unexpectedly mediocre Faust was solid but to my ear rather joyless. You can have all the technique in the books in that role, but if you lack a certain swagger, you are toast. French toast. Maybe with carmelized bananas, like they make at Marseilles in Hell's Kitchen. Note to Maury: don't blog when hungry, or everything turns to brunch. So anyway as the King, Pape is a mile high stack of raspberry pancakes with tons of butter. Listen, just be glad I didn't go in for a bagel metaphor or we might have ended up with a Pape schmear. Thanks, I'll be here all week.
So who's that leave? Right, Klaus Florian Vogt. Do you pronounce the g at all? Does it like totally vanish or is it more of a guttural thing, pronounced like the ghghghghghg in "Heighghghghghgl dir, Elsa!"? It took me most of the evening to figure out what I thought about Herr Vogt, because the sounds was so thoroughly disorienting. The color doesn't go with the size, it''s like Anton Dermota was suddenly singing Otello. Really, truly, it sounds amplified. There are negatives, in particular a marked lack of legato, but the big picture is exciting, for sure. It's just confoundingly difficult to think exactly what rep he's cut out for. I'm a champ at dream casting and haven't a clue. When the first adjective that springs to mind to describe your Wagner tenor is "limpid", you know you're off the grid. For Lohengrin it makes for a rather spectacular success, though. It throws off the aesthetic balance of things if Lohengrin sounds prettier than Elsa, but in an interesting way. I have heard clips of Gedda and Pertile singing the big aria, but this was even more pronounced. Ok, you know what? I haven't figured out what I think of Vogt after all. Judging by his reception, though, I should have ample opportunity to do so.
It bears mention that the swan was out of order in Act I but Mr. Vogt made no reference to Leo Slezak. The nice thing about a Robert Wilson production is if you hadn't seen it before you'd probably just assume it was part of the whole abstract minimalism extravaganza. They called in a swan mechanic before the third act, thereby avoiding the crisis of a little boy covered in white paint having to cool his heels in his little Gap Kids loincloth upstage for half an hour before it was time for Lohengrin to pull him out of a hat.
Tune in next week for reviews of Thomas Hampson's hair in Parsifal. Tune in to Wellsung, where I'm expecting some opinions on Vogt any moment.