March got here in like a lioness when Lise Davidsen lastly bought the possibility to indicate her stuff on the Metropolitan Opera. Since she gained Operalia in 2015, the Norwegian soprano has develop into the world’s most buzzed-about younger classical singer whose each look or new recording is eagerly debated. Whereas each her debut in November 2019 as Lisa in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades and her first-ever Eva in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg final fall have been welcomed by Met audiences, there’s been widespread sentiment that neither position confirmed her at her greatest.
Nonetheless, any reservations have been lastly swept away final Tuesday by her thrilling portrayal of the title character of Ariadne auf Naxos when Richard Strauss’s opera returned to Lincoln Heart after greater than a decade. Elijah Moshinsky’s bracingly stunning manufacturing which premiered in 1993 with Jessye Norman as Ariadne has remained one of many firm’s most beloved. and it was nice to have it again excellently revived by Stephen Pickover.
Strauss’s pleasant concoction truly gave Davidsen two roles for the worth of 1. The Prologue considerations a behind-the-scenes have a look at the preparations for a lavish leisure on the house of the richest man in 18th century Vienna. Each hijinks by a commedia dell’arte troupe and a critical opera seria entitled Ariadne auf Naxos are deliberate previous to a fireworks show. Nonetheless, dinner has run lengthy, so the Main-Domo instructions that each entertainments be given concurrently! Davidsen’s haughty Prima Donna protests that her position should not be minimize whereas the opera’s Composer—a trouser position taken by mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard—laments that his masterpiece can be ruined by this absurd flip of occasions.
When Strauss and his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal premiered the work in 1912, the Prologue didn’t but exist. As an alternative, an abridged model of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme was adopted by the Opera during which the mythic determine of Ariadne, deserted on the island of Naxos by Theseus, awaits loss of life whereas being lectured on love by Zerbinetta and her troupe of comedians. The efficiency’s nice size and confusion over the relevance of the Molière induced Strauss and Hofmannsthal to jettison the play and create the 40-minute Prologue which supplies a compelling context for the extra critical Opera correct that follows.
Each the Davidsen’s Prima Donna and Zerbinetta (performed by soprano Brenda Rae) needed to bide their time because the Prologue was dominated by the idealistic younger Composer. Sadly, Leonard, whose voice has grown darker and heavier in recent times, didn’t discover the soprano position a congenial match. Her soulful outbursts emerged strained and the excessive climaxes have been regularly flat. Whereas she appeared slim and plausibly masculine, her character’s heady intoxication with music—and Zerbinetta—didn’t persuade.
Fortunately, the Prologue additionally featured the sumptuous Music-Grasp of Johannes Martin Kränzle who was additionally a standout as a deliciously cranky Beckmesser in final fall’s Meistersinger. His pissed off exchanges with the foppishly officious Main-Domo struck comedian gold. Former matinee-idol baritone Wolfgang Brendel, absent from the Met since 2007, reveled within the intensive talking position.
After an particularly lengthy intermission, the dizzying whirl of backstage was changed by Michael Yeargan’s ravishing blue star-filled sky representing Naxos. Najade, Dryade and Echo, three nymphs every atop a gliding platform rising ten or extra toes above the stage, comforted the deserted heroine. The mix amongst mellifluous Deanna Breiwick, Tamara Mumford and Maureen McKay wasn’t all the time splendid, however they fantastically set the stage for Davidsen’s first large monologue.
Regally clad in a deep blue cape with a glistening crown, the soprano bemoaned the Cretan’s princess’s devastating destiny with poise and opulence. She crested Strauss’s hovering climaxes with little obvious effort, filling the massive Met as few have performed in latest reminiscence. Her huge excessive notes blazed and singed; some have speculated, “Not since…Birgit Nilsson? Or Gwyneth Jones?”
So breathless was the viewers’s delight that an ovation erupted after her second monologue “Es gibt ein Reich,” however very good veteran conductor Marek Janowski soldiered on however music for the subsequent minute or so was fully drowned out.
Strauss then offers Zerbinetta her probability to shine in one of the prolonged and tough of all coloratura arias, “Grossmächtige Prinzessin.” Rae, who has been a notable Zerbinetta all through Europe for a number of years, impressed throughout her demanding 13-minute harangue to the unimpressed Ariadne by imbuing it with womanly heat and tenderness moderately than with the same old soubrette-shtick.
She adeptly negotiated the fanciful florid curlicues and glowing excessive notes and trills, however but one persistently needed a bit extra voice. Maybe subsequent to a much less superhuman soprano than Davidsen or in a home smaller than the capacious Met, Rae’s Zerbinetta may need appeared much less frustratingly small-scaled. Comparable considerations, nevertheless, have been raised at her debut in Handel’s Agrippina two years in the past.
Rae’s rambunctious troupe which included Alok Kumar, Ryan Speedo Inexperienced and Myles Mykkanen was led by Sean Michael Plumb in a mellifluous Met debut as Harlekin. They admirably saved up along with her infectious vitality and gracefully made manner for the nymphs’ return to announce the arrival not of Dying however of the god Bacchus.
Brandon Jovanovich’s offstage cries of “Circe, Circe” didn’t encourage a lot confidence as he sounded hoarse to the purpose that one feared he would possibly totally lose his voice. He didn’t, though his virile exhortations to the reluctant princess sounded extra effortful than they need to. It’s been stated that Strauss hated tenors as a lot as he liked sopranos, and Bacchus definitely suggests there could also be some reality to it. However it’s to Javanovich’s credit score that he saved up with Davidsen as she enthusiastically fell for his good-looking god and soared ever extra majestically to her full Met triumph!
Though there may be an HD transmission of Ariadne to film theaters worldwide on March 12, I encourage anybody close to New York Metropolis to attempt to catch this manufacturing in particular person on the Met as microphones can solely start to seize the ability and delicacy of Davidsen now in an ideal position for her prodigal items.
With Anna Netrebko off the roster maybe eternally, the Met wants a brand new reigning diva, and Davidsen is unquestionably considered one of its prime candidates. She returns for one more Strauss position, Chrysothemis in Elektra, on April 1. Sonya Yoncheva, one other Peter Gelb favourite, is at the moment reigning on the home as Élisabeth in an thrilling new Don Carlos, whereas American soprano Nadine Sierra stars in a sure-to-be-controversial Lucia di Lammermoor re-set in America’s Rust Belt on April 23. Will considered one of them develop into the subsequent Anna?