Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Final Schenk Walkure Morris and Wotan's Farewell

Listening over Sirius, there were moments early on in Act II when I thought Morris simply would not make it all the way through – the voice sounding at times tired, the vibrato thickening and widening and some notes revealing that bit of a wobble none of us wants to admit to hearing. And there was some cracking. And yet, the manner in which he painted the text, the way he phrased and shaped this music eliminated ANY fear or notion of failure I’d held for him. By "Wotan’s Farewell" Morris had me forgetting I wasn’t even AT the Met. I was so completely involved, and so moved I didn’t know if I’d make it through to the end dry-eyed. I did not.

I wondered how I'd feel in the morning, but in the morning afterglow I can admit the following: I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Wotan's Farewell sung more tenderly, more lovingly - or more beautifully than last night’s singing of it by Mr. Morris. He caressed the line with this almost ineffable sweetness revealing all the emotion in this remarkable scene but with an extra "something" that seemed like an embracement of the occasion itself. You could hear him slowing things down, with Levine allowing it . . . guiding it all. Here, too, was this exaggerated yet entirely genuine feeling lingering over parts of the text . . . a hanging on to of word endings one into the next, as if never wanting to let them go. We can talk about the greats, talk about the golden age Wotans of yore – Morris, for me, is in that company. This was golden age singing, speaking to and engaging the brain and spirit every bit as much as the ear.

I know a lot of folks complain about Linda Watson, but I thoroughly enjoyed (most of) her performance last night. She has a sort of unrefined, rawness about her sound – a wildness, if you will – that I simply love in this music. The vibrato can be wide and sound like it’s spinning out of control, and yet I find her singing exciting; fully engaged and attuned to Brunhilde’s situation(s).
Pape was, predictably, a formidable Hunding. I love that such a major star was at the Met this season singing the "minor roles" of Hunding and Fasolt. Luxury casting, perhaps, but no less than what these roles call for and Pape delivered both to us in spades. I definitely hear Wotan in this voice.

Kudos too, to Gary Lehmann who has become one of the Met’s Wagnerian "Go To Guys" over the past two seasons. Last night he stepped in as a mid-act replacement for Domingo who, after Wintersturme could not continue the performance (and here’s to hoping Placido’s on the mend). Lehmann did yeoman’s work last night and I sincerely hope the Met realizes what they have in him and assure themselves some future "ass savings" by offering him something besides cover work.

I was especially moved at the end by Morris’s solo curtain. It went on seemingly forever. I loved that Levine brought Morris out by himself for a penultimate ovation before leading the entire cast back out and doing a rare "crossing of the stage."

The first intermission interview with Albert Dohmen was one of the very best of the entire season. What a charming, intelligent, astutely observant and fascinating man this is – and what a splendid Wotan he was last week.

This was a special night, a special broadcast and I found myself even more moved than I usually am during Walkure. Looking forward to tomorrow night’s Siegfried and Morris’s last go at The Wanderer.

I've not been able to attend a single Ring opera this season but, thanks to Sirius, I've been able to catch most of them and what a gloriouso cycle this has been!

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