On the Road Again ...
Our Wagner Society members are feverishly out and about this spring "chasing" opera productions (a la last month's Presidents' Letter).
Fifteen of us headed south in March for the Austin Lyric Opera's production of The Flying Dutchman at Bass Hall on the UT campus. The performance we heard featured Donnie Ray Albert and Mary Jane Johnson. The village girls in Act II were actually spinning along with their vocalizing. Remember Alain-Pierre Vuilleret’s report on last year's Bayreuth Dutchman, in which the women were costumed and choreographed to resemble the Rockette's!
We started our opera evening in Austin with a nice dinner at the hotel and ended our weekend with a tour of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and a stop along Lake Travis for Sunday brunch.
As some of you likely know, our Director, Virginia Abdo, has also done her share of traveling during the last month, but mostly to hospitals and doctor's offices. Virginia suffered a serious fall at her home and has done serious damage to one eye. With her inimitable spirit, however, she is out and about again, maintaining her involved schedule of rehearsals and concerts. We appreciate her pushing onward as always to keep us posted on events of interest to Wagner Society members and upcoming opera schedules of Wagner operas and other opera performances.
Leslie Halla, one of our summer program presenters, has journeyed to "brush up her... German!" In Munich for a month, she is preparing herself to be on target for Lyric Opera's Ring Cycle. Daughter of WSD member Marilyn Halla, Leslie is assistant stage director in Chicago. More on program date and plans a bit later.
Roger Carroll enjoyed a glorious two weeks in London and his busy opera going review follows:
“Where else but London can you sample four different opera companies in less than two weeks? I had the pleasure of sampling such fare: The English Touring Opera presented Midsumer Night's Dream at the Hackney Palace. This was a delight! Not only great singing from the young people but great playing. The Palace is newly renovated; by the same architect who designed the London Coliseum. I got to catch the 3rd and 4th performances of the English National Opera's Rheingold at the newly reopened Coliseum. Wonderful playing by the orchestra! New young singers promise a bright future for Wagner. Perhaps the youngest Wotan I've ever seen. While the production itself leaves a lot to be desired, we can always hope for the future. Walkure and Siegfried are planned for May and November 2004.
“The Welsh National Opera took everyone by storm performing at Sadler's Wells. Eugene Onegin was one of the best productions of this opera I've seen. Again inspired playing and singing (with Amanda Roocroft).
“Tosca at English National.Opera was a surprise; no Eurotrash production here. Instead, there was a real church and real castle! Dallas Opera's 2004 Fiordiligi, Claire Rutter, made an astonishing transformation in the title role.
“Finally, the Royal Opera House's Simon Boccanegra was impressive for the sheer power of the orchestra.
“To round out my visit ... Jerry Springer - The Opera was fun. I don't know how American audiences will take to it. I heard Deborah Voigt in concert the day after the Royal Opera House's dismissing her from Ariadne. She was gracious, lovely, and sang beautifully. Unselfishly, she gave five encores!”
Roger is also among the New York Met Ring Cycle attendees this month... including Bill Herrera, Jim Stoiber, and Fred Ward. They'll be hobnobbing with the NY Wagner Society colleagues at various events.
“The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” writes member Josef Suter. Gergiev will be conducting Die Walkure at the Met next season, so naturally Josef will be in attendance. Not to mention out to break his formidable record of Ring Cycles attended; he's already reserved seats for Cycles I of both the Chicago and Seattle productions.
Photos for WSD by Pat Mattingly. Copyright Pat Mattingly 2004.