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.
Henry Hadley, remembered today as a late Romantic composer, leads the New York Philharmonic in Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture, minus a huge cut in the introduction (hat tip: Richard Schneider). Keep in mind that at the time Willem Mengelberg was well into his tenure as the orchestra’s music director. Here is yet more evidence that puts the lie to the assertion that Toscanini built the Philharmonic into a virtuoso orchestra.