Sunday, August 23, 2015


Evelyn Herlitzius
Deutsche Oper web site

So I do not get the great love for Evelyn Herlitzius. What she does on stage, at least tonight as Isolde, is not, for me, more compelling or better acted or more involved than what I have seen from a half-dozen or so singers, most of whom sound a whole lot better than she does. Even at its best, it's neither a distinctive nor beautiful voice, and her execution is wildly inconsistent.

I will say this for her: she sounds significantly better in person than she did on the opening-night Tristan broadcast, and in fact so did Stephen Gould (the excellent Tristan). This is one of the rare times in my life that I've heard a broadcast and then heard the same production, singers, and house live, and it adds support for my long-time contention that opera house miking for radio almost always makes singers sound worse than they sound in the house.

Still, I find her vocal inconsistency troubling. Sometimes she'll hit the first note of a phrase dead on, and her voice will have presence and spin, and the phrase comes out with a beautiful line. Other times, she misses, and hooks up to the note she is trying to hit. She was best in tonight's Tristan either singing softly, when she was always in tune and had a consistently good attack, or at triple forte (most of the time). She does always land on the right pitch....eventually.

I don't know what causes this particular problem and her general tonal inconsistency: a voice that is naturally difficult to control; age; wear and tear; forcing for volume; singing beyond your means (a lyric voice in dramatic roles); poor technique; other vocal issues. Anja Kampe was originally scheduled to sing Isolde in this production, and she has it all, a beautiful voice and great stage presence. I really wonder what it would have been like with her.


Immanuel Gilen said...

Couldn't agree more. Had pretty much the exact same reaction to her Kat'a Kabanova in Brussels a few years ago. People were raving about her, though.

Lisa Hirsch said...

It does seem that she gets raves, and, well...she is singing Brunnhilde in the next bring-up in SF of the Zambello Ring, and I'm thinking that unless the rest of the cast is really really special, I might spend my ticket money elsewhere.