[Met Performance] CID:298570
Die Frau ohne Schatten {37} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1989.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1989


DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN {37}

Empress.................Mechthild Gessendorf
Emperor.................Gary Lakes
Dyer's Wife.............Marilyn Zschau
Barak...................Bernd Weikl
Nurse...................Helga Dernesch
Messenger...............Franz Mazura
Falcon..................Kaaren Erickson
Hunchback...............Richard Fracker
One-Eyed................Russell Christopher
One-Armed...............James Courtney
Servant.................Joyce Guyer
Servant.................Sondra Kelly
Servant.................Heidi Grant Murphy
Apparition..............Mark (W.) Baker
Unborn..................Ariel Bybee
Unborn..................Claudia Catania
Unborn..................Loretta Di Franco
Unborn..................Joyce Guyer
Unborn..................Sondra Kelly
Unborn..................Dawn Kotoski
Watchman................Charles Anthony
Watchman................Philip Cokorinos
Watchman................Motti Kaston
Voice...................Gweneth Bean
Guardian................Heidi Grant Murphy

Conductor...............Christof Perick


Review of Martin Mayer in Opera Magazine (UK)

The season's best evening at the opera so far this season was "Die Frau ohne Schatten," which I caught on November 21. Here again, the conductor should get first marks, for Christof Perick and the Met orchestra at its best gave us both the gorgeous surface and the underlying architecture of this oh-so-beautiful piece. Vocally, things were not on this level, excepting the superb Barak of Bernd Weikl. Marilyn Zschau, who has not had major opportunities at the Met, made much of this one as the Dyer's Wife, though the role is a touch heavy for her. We missed Marton badly as Empress. Mechthild Gessendorf was third division for the role (she cancelled on the [first] night, which was sung apparently with some success by Ruth Falcon in her house debut; someone said backstage that she was the ultimate operatic oxymoron, being a pregnant Empress). Gary Lakes was a pretty but small-scale (vocally) Emperor, Helga Dernesch, while contributing great authority to the Nurse, the dominant role in this performance, was far from happy in the upper reaches of the part. The comprimarios were as usual the luxury of the company: Franz Mazura as the Messenger, Kaaren Erickson as the Falcon, Gweneth Bean as the Voice from Above.

The production by Nat Merrill and Robert O'Hearn was the glory of the [first] season at Lincoln Center 23 years ago, when we had Rysanek and King, Ludwig and Berry as the partners. It uses the resources of the house for magical effect in a magical work, and as a staging it has held up very well. Leighton Kerner pointed out to me that when the first team was in charge (at a time when the Met still made do with an electrician as its lighting director, so that producers could have a say in the lighting), Merrill lit Hofmannsthal's upper world with an unearthly ripple of light caused by pointing the floods at trays of water kept in light agitation by an electric fan. Nowadays we just have as few bits of cloth flapping aimlessly over the lower side lights, to no effect. Perhaps the artistic director could take a hand, even though someone else is conducting.



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