[Met Performance] CID:291890
Lulu {20} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/25/1988.

(Debut: Ronald Hamilton
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 25, 1988


LULU {20}
Berg-Berg

Lulu....................Catherine Malfitano
Dr. Schön...............Franz Mazura
Jack the Ripper.........Franz Mazura
Countess Geschwitz......Tatiana Troyanos
Alwa....................Ronald Hamilton [Debut]
Schigolch...............Andrew Foldi
Animal Tamer............Lenus Carlson
Acrobat.................Lenus Carlson
Painter.................Barry McCauley
Negro...................Barry McCauley
Physician...............Peter Sliker
Professor...............Peter Sliker
Prince..................Robert Nagy
Manservant..............Robert Nagy
Marquis.................Robert Nagy
Dresser.................Diane Kesling
Schoolboy...............Diane Kesling
Groom...................Diane Kesling
Theater Manager.........Ara Berberian
Banker..................Ara Berberian
Journalist..............John Darrenkamp
Waiter..................Richard Vernon
Designer................Margaret Jane Wray
Girl....................Betsy Norden
Mother..................Batyah Godfrey Ben-David
Policeman...............Gary Drane
Clown...................Abraham Marcus

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............John Dexter
Designer................Jocelyn Herbert
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Lulu received six performances this season.


Review of Leighton Kerner in the Village Voice

Lulu, despite medical handicaps during its six-performance run, wound up as a happier story. John Dexter's 1977 production is still one of the Met's strongest, all the more so since 1980, when the company first got the rights to produce the full three-act version. Levine and the Met orchestra have consistently achieved marvels of warmth, excitement, and nuance with the score. The health problems were those of Catherine Malfitano, singing the amoral heroine for the first time in New York but sidelined by flu when I attended on March 29, and Levine himself, whose pinched nerve in the neck took him out for a couple of weeks. The leading lady I heard on March 29, ordinarily a small-role singer, acted acceptably but had no voice for the role until the last scene, when a modest lyricism served somewhat. When I returned April 7 to hear Malfitano, the substitute conductor was Donald Runnicles, who kept the show on track by sensibly holding to Levine's interpretation but who also proved himself a formidable technician and musician. The Edinburgh-born Runnicles had been a Bayreuth assistant to Levine and other conductors for several years and this season served on the strong musical team credited with preparing the Met's Lulu revival.

The admiration I expressed for Malfitano's Chicago Lulu this past winter still stands. On April 7 and during the closing night's third act, which I caught after a nearby concert, she again was the most vocally secure, pleasing, and accurate of 11 Lulus I've heard over the last 24 years. (Anja Silja and Beverly Morgan are the runners-up vocally, and Teresa Stratas is the greatest actress of the part.) It was also fascinating to see how much of her Louise Brooks-like characterization-Brooks being absolutely charming and seemingly innocent in the Pabst nonoperatic film-Malfitano had brought from Yuri Lyubimov's unorthodox Chicago production, into Dexter's. The latter is scrupulously faithful to Berg's music-cemented stage directions. It's all the more faithful now, since Malfitano, as in Chicago, projects the second-act Lied not as pistol-packing retort but as a self-justification to the audience.

Not everyone in the Met Lulu was ideal. Ronald Hamilton was too coarse as Alwa, and neither Barry McCauley nor Edward Sooter, taking the twin roles of Walter Schwartz (Lulu's suicidal second husband) and the African tribal prince (Lulu's homicidal second prostitution-client, who kills Alwa), had a properly lyric tenor, although both acted well enough. But Tatiana Troyanos was admirably heroic and, in the last scene, heartbreaking as the lesbian Countess Geschwitz. Her long, grieving kiss on Lulu's portrait is hardly to be forgotten. Andrew Foldi, whose Schigolch (Lulu's first lover and possible father) grows barnacles of loathsomeness and tragedy with each performance, shattered me this time around with his tearful breakdown in front of that same portrait. Franz Mazura, his rough baritone notwithstanding, was newly pitiable as the love-trapped Ludwig Schoen and monumentally scary as Jack the Ripper, particularly when the moonlight awakens his bloodlust as Lulu kneels at his feet (as if knowingly embracing death). And could there be a more perfect cameo than Ara Berberian, as the banker, getting the telegram about the stock crash, smilingly saying, "Ja, ja, so ist die Welt," and tipping the messenger.



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