Sunday, August 31, 2014

That Was Something.

If you didn't happen to be at your computer or other Internet-connected music player this morning and early afternoon (Pacific time), today's Proms Elektra is available for the next four weeks. So is last night's Salome with Nina Stemme, conducted by Donald Runnicles. Just click through to the Proms archive.

Now about that Elektra. Great conducting by Semyon Bychkov, very beautifully detailed in the orchestra, top-notch playing from the BBC SO, and an Elektra from Christine Goerke that has me almost at a loss for words. Plenty of decibels, which, goodness knows, this role needs. But everyone who sings the role has volume. Goerke has, in spades, what too many sopranos lack: a warm and richly colored voice; dynamic control from those gigantic triple fortes down to piano, pianissimo; a beautiful line; depth of characterization, from sarcastic to exultant to terrifying (sometimes at the time!); the ability to sing this long and difficult role with grace and beauty.

I've seen her on stage and I can imagine what this looked like - stunning, because she is a tremendous physical actor as well as a marvelous singer. I can't wait for her Met Elektras; we know from a Times article last November that she is under contract to sing at some point in the incoming Chereau production. Well, I'll be there.

I want to also single out the astounding Dame Felicity Palmer for her Klytemnestra. Wikipedia says she is 70. She sounded great, and she gave a vocally detailed and dramatically powerful performance. Yes, my eyes bugged out when I saw her birth year, because she sounded as good as most mezzos in their 30s and 40s. Well, sterling technique will take you a long, long way in the singing business.

Johan Reuter was a strong and sympathetic Orest; Gunn-Britt Barkmin sounded very good most of the time as Chrysothemis, though occasionally taxed at extremes of range and volume. I think she'd probably make a terrific Kaiserin in Frau. Robert K├╝nzli sang a vivid Aegisth.

No comments: