Thursday, March 6, 2014


Just listened to the livestream of the season prima, with Levine back in the pit. He's conducted every performance of this work I've ever seen, all of which have been at the Met, and he always risks making the chandelier fall with that long loud trombone Bflat (?) after Wozzeck has killed Marie. From what I could tell, he did that again tonight. Moreover, as he always does, he makes this music accessible for those who aren't Puccini-scorners or demanders of atonality with their morning coffee.

Matthias Goerne replaced Thomas Hampson in the title role. I had doubts about whether Hampson should have taken it on. He's spent much of his recent career doing roles not right for his voice. Well, better health to him. Meanwhile, Goerne loaded us up with a bassy baritone sound that made his Wozzeck demented (of course) but never weak. I hope I'll get to hear his Amfortas, which I hear is in his future.

Debbie Voigt: well, who can deny she's in the second half of her career? That acknowledged, she took on Marie boldly, and never sounded bad, unless you're a true Voigt hayta. No one can do the "...als ich zehn Jahre alt war!" moment like Anja Silja in the Dohnanyi recording, so that's not a fair standard.

Peter Hoare's Captain and Russell Thomas's Andres filled the bill. I confess to a morbid fascination with the Doctor, so I'm very demanding about this role. I liked the aging Michael Devlin's under-voiced but highly stylized take on it when this production premiered. The best "Jetz ganz still" EV-AH was delivered by Norman Bailey in a British broadcast that I barely caught about 20 years ago: he let the three words descend, as though verbally burying Wozzeck. All that said, I was pleased with Brit import and Met debutant Clive Bayley: he got his creepy on, and delivered the high note and the very low notes. Jolly good. (A good role for Baileys, but watch the spelling.)

Simon O'Neill was a fine Drum Major, but I wish I had heard Stuart Skelton in the production's previous outing.

Levine's return-season to the house, and his return to an opera he has, in the now-overworked term, "championed"; Goerne's role debut, and Bayley's house debut, and a great performance: must have been fun to be there.