[Met Performance] CID:352202
New Production
Iphigénie en Tauride {6} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/27/2007.

(Debuts: Louis Langrée, Sasha Cooke, Michele Losier, Jacqueline Antaramian, Mark Capri

Metropolitan Opera House
November 27, 2007 Broadcast/Streamed

New Production

C. W. Gluck-Guillard

Iphigénie...............Susan Graham
Oreste..................Plácido Domingo
Pylade..................Paul Groves
Thoas...................William Shimell
Diane...................Michèle Losier [Debut]
First Priestess.........Lisette Oropesa
Second Priestess........Sasha Cooke [Debut]
Scythian Minister.......David Won
Clytemnestre............Jacqueline Antaramian [Debut]
Agamemnon...............Mark Capri [Debut]

Glenn Lewis: Harpsichord

Conductor...............Louis Langrée [Debut]

Production..............Stephen Wadsworth
Set Designer............Thomas Lynch
Costume designer........Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting Designer.......Neil Peter Jampolis
Choreographer...........Daniel Pelzig

Production gift of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Solomon

Additional funding provided by Bertita and Guillermo L. Martinez and Barbara Augusta Teichert

Iphigénie en Tauride is a co-production with Seattle Opera

Broadcast live on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio
Streamed live at metopera.org

Iphigénie en Tauride received eight performances this season.

Production photos of Iphigénie en Tauride by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

Review of William R. Braun in OPERA NEWS

Gluck's name was emblazoned over the proscenium arch of the old Metropolitan Opera House, but once the company moved to Lincoln Center an entire generation of Met audiences grew up Gluck-less. After "Orfeo" left the house in 1972, there was nothing more until it returned in Mark Morris's slyly beautiful and slyly humorous production in the 2006-2007 season. The Met now has two successful Gluck offerings. A Stephen Wadsworth mounting of "Iphigénie en Tauride" arrived from Seattle in November 2007, and it received its first revival on February 12. New to the production was conductor Patrick Summers, who proved an ideal choice. When his tempos were quick, the music had forward motion but also phrasing that was well defined. When his tempos were unusually slow, as in Pylade's "Unis dès la plus tendre enfance" and the trio "Je pourrais du tyran," Summers kept the string tone spinning. His performance had many elegant touches, such as the way he led into the reprise of "Ô toi, qui prolongeas mes jours", the way choruses tapered into recitative, the choice of some very old and distinctive percussion instruments,; and the little tweaks to the instrumental numbers selected for the particular version of the score played.

It seemed at first that Wadsworth's many inventions might be overkill for this austere opera. The show begins with a silent pantomime of Iphigénie's story up until the start of the action. But on the whole the dramaturgy proved all of a piece. As it turns out, we see the entire story through Iphigénie's eyes. (She is onstage, literally, the entire time.) And Wadsworth does know the value of stillness. In the trio where Iphigénie must decide whether to sacrifice Pylade or Oreste, the three sit all in a row. Nobody moves a muscle during the agonizing series of chords when she thinks things through. Wadsworth clearly had worked closely with set designer Thomas Lynch, who abetted the concept by showing us the antechamber of the temple as well as the altar. Iphigénie thus could overhear the prisoners, and could even be quite close to her brother Oreste without realizing it.

Iphigénie has so much to sing that there is a danger (as there is with Bellini's "Norma") of tiring the listener with so much of the same voice. It seemed at first that Susan Graham would fall into this trap when she sang full out for so much of the first half. But in the higher-lying phrases of "Ô malheureuse Iphigénie," a new, beautiful bright color appeared. Act III brought a fresh, more pliable rhythmic sense, and by "Je t'implore et je tremble," in Act IV, we got some of the most incisive singing we've heard from her. She and Wadsworth declined to make anything of one of the role's great moments, the huge silence Gluck requests before the realization "C'en est fait." As Oreste, Plácido Domingo threw himself into Wadsworth's detailed conception. Incredibly, at this late stage in his singing career, there was still some bloom in the tone for "Que ces regrets touchants." Only occasionally, especially when the music in this baritone role was low and quick, did his voice not do quite what he wanted it to. As Pylade, Paul Groves sang recitative slowly, roughly and heavily. He found a purer sound for the great duct "Ah! Mon ami," but he could have been much more responsive to the beautiful and specific things Summers was doing with the orchestra. Gordon Hawkins sang Thoas with an alarming wobble; there's no place for this in Gluck

As for the rest of the Gluckian balance of elements, Daniel Pelzig's choreography for the women had too much Martha Graham for the music, but he did better with the men. There were a few unruly voices among Iphigénie's priestesses. During Gluck's long absence from the Met, the company was not much interested in lighting design as an artistic element. Neil Peter Jampolis's work here, like James F. Ingalls's for the Met's current "Nixon in China," is starting to redress this. Wadsworth's and Gluck's vision is on the whole well-sustained. The brief opera would be even more effective - and closer to its Greek roots - without any intermission. But that would be a lot to ask of the leading lady.

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