My review is live on Classical Source. I’ll add that the orchestra, which has always given James Levine committed playing whenever they’ve appeared at Carnegie Hall, is just as in tune with Fabio Luisi, whose interpretations have very strong personality.
The press is piling on in the day and a half since the Metropolitan Opera announced that James Levine is withdrawing from the fall portion of the company’s 2011-12 season. A few are worth a read, including Zachary Wolffe at the NY Observer, who writes:
Daniel Wakin follows through on yesterday’s breaking news about James Levine’s decision to withdraw from the entire fall portion of the MET season due to a new and serious back injury with a more detailed article just posted to nytimes.com. Again, a number of details leap off the page:
Dan Wakin has the scoop at the Times. This detail jumped out at me:
Word of operatic baritone Cornell MacNeil’s passing had spread over the weekend, and this morning’s NY Times obit by Jonathan Kandell provides the details — including comments from James Levine and a few details I hadn’t known. MacNeil had a terrific international career — including over 600 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera.
I’ve never warmed to Andrea Bocelli’s opera recordings, but I am that rare classical snob who likes his pop and Neapolitan offerings. Zachary Woolfe’s negative review of Bocelli’s MET recital in the NY Times spreads the blame quite properly. Woolfe did not make mention of Bocelli’s management, which has also done an extraordinary job, at least up until now. The talented, likable crooner should sack whoever it was on his team that persuaded him to do a MET recital.
The New York music and theater scene is abuzz over the mechanical failure that left the gods of Valhalla earthbound and unable to enter their spiffy new digs at the end of last night’s performance of Robert Lepage’s spectacular new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold at the MET. James Oestreich was in Times Square for the soggy HD broadcast. The production is getting wildly mixed reviews. David Finkle calls it a “five-alarm disappointment.” The LA Times’ James Taylor reported a mixed reception for the production by the audience vut warm ovations for the cast and orchestra — and a bit of shock at James Levine’s appearance. Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim feels the production serves the music well, and reports that “no Rhinemaidens were crushed by the 40-ton set”, and the savvy, sassy Tyro Theater Critic liked it a lot, calling it “a blend of the old and the new that strikes gold.” Heidi Waleson mostly enjoyed it, and mirrored TTC on the point of “a high-tech extravaganza oddly married to an old-fashioned stand-and-sing aesthetic.” I had a schedule conflict last night, but I will be catching an upcoming performance and, no doubt, weiging in.
James Barron has the details at the NY Times. Maestro Levine’s continuing struggle against multiple illnesses has many of his fans worried, but if there is any good news to come out of this it is that Italian conductor Fabio Luisi, who recently quit as director of the Staatskapelle Dresden, will be leading Tosca and Lulu at the MET. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: he’s one of the most exciting maestros in Europe, and I’d wager that he’d make a hugely favorable impression as a music director on this side of the Atlantic.