From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell – NYC Day 1

by Jonathan Pell

I am in New York this week for auditions and to attend some performances at the Metropolitan Opera. Saturday night was a generally lackluster CARMEN at the Met, but with some wonderful singing, most notably Dwayne Croft’s “Escamillo” (a role which he will be singing to open The Dallas Opera’s 2013 season in October) and Ekaterina Scherbachenko as “Micaela” in what was her Met debut.

Also in the cast was Danielle Pastin as “Frasquita” who will be singing this role in Dallas in the fall. You may remember my mentioning her when I first heard her as an outstanding apprentice at Santa Fe Opera, and I predicted that she would “go places.” She is certainly on her way.

Also in the cast was tenor Scott Scully as “Remendado”, a former winner in the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and who appeared in our production of THE MERRY WIDOW.

Last night was the second performance of the Met’s new production of PARSIFAL, and it was stunning. Jonas Kaufmann sang the title role superbly, and Rene Pape was the gloriously sung “Gurnemanz.”. The most heart rending performance, though, came from Swedish baritone Peter Mattei as “Amfortas” a role he was singing for the first time. He was magnificent and may have been the most moving “Amfortas” I have ever heard.

The production, staged by Francois Girard was most effective in acts I and III, but was a little disappointing visually in the second act. The production had a real sense of “ritual” without being overtly religious and the use of projections was most effective. Some of the images were quite reminiscent of the Dallas production of TRISTAN last year, but beautiful nonetheless.

Italian conductor Daniele Gatti conducted a beautifully paced performance and the orchestra played brilliantly for him. The nearly six hours in the theatre went by quickly, although I did have to chuckle when “Gurnemanz” explains to “Parsifal” that “Time has no meaning here…”

I also managed to catch the play “All in the Timing” on Friday night, designed by Beowulf Boritt, who did the wonderful set for our production of THE LIGHTHOUSE, as well as revivals of Albee’s WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company on Saturday afternoon, and an off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s neglected masterpiece PASSION, in a wonderful production directed by John Doyle on Sunday.

Today I start my auditions at the new Opera America National Opera Center, and by the end of the week I will have heard nearly 150 young singers.

Tonight I am looking forward to going to a performance of the new Met production of RIGOLETTO which has generated a lot of “buzz.” Some of you may have already seen it since it was the Saturday HD transmission. I’ll let you know what I think tomorrow…

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