By the end of the best evenings at the opera, of course, you feel as if you'd run a marathon (or in my case, a block) or else perhaps had been hooked up to electrodes. Spent. So, nu, this Ariadne...not an electrode evening. But with electrode moments.
The production is what it is, and either you love it or you hate it, except really it's easier to do both because the prologue is such a Zeffirelli "Oh Look! A Staircase!" affair whereas the opera itself is just...dreamy. My own fantasy is that they'll scrap it eventually, not because I'm that tired of it, but just you know I've seen it twice--nothing compared to my endless viewings of the Aida, but still--and get Carsen to make a new one. And while he's at it, an Orfeo, and a Jenufa, and for good measure a Beatrice di Tenda and perhaps Shaniqua di Mill Basin. You see.
And in the new Ariadne, they'll retain Damrau for sure, because she's not perfect, but as close to perfect as I think we're likely to hear, and I'm grateful to have heard her. Sort of a plump voice for Z, more in the vein of Berger than Dessay. Alright, the trills are not trills, as the girls around town are saying. But she did a kind of wag on the D in the rondo. Points were awarded. And beyond all this, and ignoring a little the way she futzes with the vocal line just a little too much, for vocal effect, there is her stage comportment. It is a satisfying mix of well observed gesture and an apparent gladness to be singing. It is intoxicating. Me, I do like a Zerbinetta with a sad or knowing side, but that's really for the couch and not anyone else's concern.
Villars was a marvel, also, in spite of...well, let's be honest, BECAUSE of the tight-rope element of his performance. Reportedly in all performances he conked out right at the very end, but everything else was jaw-dropping. A singer friend I ran into told me he's been singing it for seven years. It's probably time to let someone else do it, even if not so well. It just can't be good for the guy's long-term prospects.
And so to Urmana, ending the many year reign of Ariadne Incorporated, aka Madame Voigt. I must admit now, and I hate to, because I am an old and loyal fan, that I never felt quite satisfied by her Ariadne. Which of course means, as opera queens are fickle, awful creatures, I now miss it. Urmana's Ariadne was in some ways better, in some ways worse. More solid on bottom, it goes without saying. Less so on top, same story. There was more acting going on, but since I imprinted on Schwarzkopf, nobody really ever satisfies me because none of them seems haunted. Nobody's "Es Gibt ein Reich" convincnes me she'd really be absolutely content to die at the end of the aria. Voigt certainly never did, but I guess, superficial that I am, what I miss is those goddamn high notes that felt like they were aimed at YOU, even if you were in family circle.
The less said about Graham, the better. Because going on and on about why one dislikes a singer everyone else dotes on is a dull sort of neurosis. Suffice it to say, I really miss Mentzer, whose composer was one of the most sincere creations I have ever witnessed, and one of the most prettily sung as well.
Ok, in the spirit of full disclosure, I only started this blog so I could leave a mean and nasty comment on parterre. But as long as it's here, I guess I'll write about opera, when I go.