Monday, October 11, 2010

Thoughts on the HD Broadcast of Rheingold

I slipped into the screening at Yale on Saturday, as the plus-one of a Yale-affiliated friend.

Happily, most of my positive impressions from the live performance were confirmed by the broadcast. The look on Eric Owens' face when he is deciding, inwardly, that he will renounce love and forge the Ring was the most moving moment of the afternoon, for me (granted, I was a little jittery from all that caffeine); Stephanie Blythe, too, was a consummate Wagnerian, modulating her emotional state in synch with the orchestra and carrying herself like a goddess.

The amplification did Bryn Terfel a lot of favors as Wotan. His singing did seem far more relaxed, but it was clear that his mic also did a bit of heavy lifting in the bassier bits. It did Richard Croft a few favors as well, apparently, which I only learned secondhand—at the Prima, his Loge had plenty of ping in the back row of Family Circle, the Met's acoustical sweet spot, but apparently he was inaudible enough at Saturday's performance to earn him a few boos. (I still, for the record, have very little sympathy for anybody who booed.) For the broadcast audience, who'd heard him plenty loud, the boos were mystifying.

And the Rainbow Bridge was GREAT. Really spectacular effect.

Disappointments: Somebody's cellphone went off. (Couldn't tell if it was in the theater or the auditorium. "Ringtone des Nibelungen!" I whispered to my date. Yeah, I know.) Were the projections a little off-kilter at first? (The bubbles were rising not from the Rhinemaidens but a little to their right (our left), and ditto with the pebbles in that same scene.) The sound seemed a little compressed. (The opening E-flat wasn't as soft as it might have been, as some commenters here pointed out, and when the orchestra really boiled over it didn't have that hot, hot intensity of the Met's live brass.) Oh and Terfel's Wotan seemed a bit passive (which is an easy mistake to make to make, since he doesn't spend much of the opera DOING anything, but still exactly wrong—everybody's coming to him for help, after all; Terfel needs to convince us that they've got the right guy. He needs to be a King).

All in all, though, it was a happy afternoon at the opera. Movies. Operamovies. Ohmygod, and Brünnhilde tweeted at me!!!

Okay that's all. Boris tonight!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed the HD broadcast. I saw the production last week, and Richard Croft was inaudible about 50% of the time. It was weird. I thought I was listening to one of those CDs that play the orchestral music and you can add your own solo part to it. I know Loge is a demi-god, but he should be audible more than demi-time.

October 14, 2010 at 10:04 PM  

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