Sunday, May 9, 2010

Met's Lulu: Lasciviously Delicious!



What a riveting, thrilling roller coaster ride of musical emotion was the Met's broadcast of Lulu today - closing the broadcast season.

Marliss Petersen, who seemed to struggle with poor Ophelie a month or so ago, nailed the difficult assignment of Berg's heroine with style, substance as though it were the most natural thing in the world. The stratospheric top notes were landed upon with such fullness and depth of sound, clear and open - they were stunning. The many trills came off as well - or perhaps better even - than I've ever heard them from almost any other Lulu (Christine Schaffer is up there in this role, too).

James Morris has fit into Schön like the proverbial hand-in-glove. I was thrilled to hear him sounding like he was really living the role - and sounding rather good doing so! Garry Lehman - one of the Tristans who saved the Met’s butt a couple seasons back - was equally wonderful as Alwa.

Anne Sophie von Otter’s Geschwitz was sung with ravishing beauty of tone as the role seems to demand and blessedly, often seems to be the case, but it was a treat to hear this amazingly versatile artist’s first go at one of most interesting, pathetic and noble roles in the entire mezzo oeuvre. (Loved how she stated about her make up and costume: “I look gooooood!” what a charmer she is!)

Fabio Luisi continues to absolutely and utterly blow my mind. What a sensuous, rapturous reading he led from the Met band this afternoon. The score absolutely sparkled in his hands, the sound emanating from the pit so well rehearsed the clarity of Berg's remarkable score truly revealed a lyrical beauty and allowed to shine in a manner one just doesn’t typically hear in this music, particularly from an opera house orchestra. It was a remarkable achievement and Luisi's absolutely stunning leadership and performance was greeted with a wall of cheers as rapturous as any I've heard in a good, long while!

Thank St. Cecilia and/or the gods for Cerha and his marvelous completion of the third act of Berg’s second greatest opera - ;-> - I know there are champions for leaving the third act off (Franz Welser Most, for one) but I always think those arguments are so much nonsense because the work simply fails to make its point when ending with the second act. It’s an unacceptable practice and I, for one, am happy the Met abandoned it almost as soon as it was possible. After two acts of difficult emotions, blasé attitudes, creepiness, disdain, total self-absorption, and (seeming) heartlessness, Lulu almost NEEDS to be violently killed in order for us to be won over to her side, to see her with pity and feel what we ultimately NEED to feel for this anti-heroine. And c’mon . . . who doesn’t wanna see Jack the Ripper on the stage?

Not all THAT long ago, when I was still a kid, all one needed was to MENTION "Lulu" being a beautiful work and you’d practically start a riot. Today? Well, it‘s nearly impossible to get a ticket - with something like 100 seats TOTAL available - and spread over the final two performances!

The second best thing I heard today was that the incredible Met telecast of “Lulu” featuring Julia Migenes, will soon be available on DVD. After wearing out several VHS copies, this is happy news and I hope I heard it right!

As if all of the above weren’t enough, Eric Owens was a masterful Quiz host, charming, hilarious and kept things rolling perfectly so well that for once one wished intermission could’ve been even longer! What an absolutely terrific gift from the Met to all of us, and what a marvelous way to end the Saturday broadcast season! Bravo, bravissimo! Until next season . . .

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