Here in Southern Illinois I am a little late in coming to various things - such as the Met HD transmission of Armida. I missed it when it was first broadcast because the movie theater was without power, and even though they opened 10 minutes late I did not want to come into it late. So I had to wait for the Encore presentation. Well it was worth the wait. I loved it - I thought it was both a musical success with wonderful singing (and playing) and a visual success.
Mary Zimmerman's "antique" approach worked very well I thought. The set was sparse but there was still much to see. A special bravo goes to all of the dancers - especially the young girl who danced the role of Amore. Even though this was added to the production by the director, I thought it worked very well and I enjoyed her performance very much. My only negative comment: why wasn't she allowed a solo bow? I thought it was unfair that she was stuck in the first row of the chorus and not allowed to have a solo bow as a principal dancer - booooo to whoever made that silly decision.
As always, the Met Chorus was brilliant! There was so much to sing for them and they accomplished it with flair and musical excellence. They are probably the hardest working group of artists at the Met and they still manage to always set the bar high for opera chorus performance both as a vocal ensemble and as actors. This production is worth seeing JUST to see and hear this chorus.
The same is to be said of the orchestra. The Met orchestra is my favorite orchestra in the world and I think they are the finest orchestra in the world - which is saying a lot since there are some pretty darn good orchestras around (Chicago, Berlin, Vienna are my three favorites). The last two HD operas have really shown off the winds. "Hamlet" (which I didn't write about because, well, I didn't know what to say - what an odd opera! I could not get myself beyond the fact that there is nothing Shakespearean about this opera except character names) - The score to "Hamlet" featured some wonderful woodwind playing and so does "Armida." Special mention to: Horns, Piccolo(s), clarinets, bassoons - also the concertmaster had several beautiful solos as did the wonderful principal cellist. Anyway, I love the Met orchestra and they were brilliant.
There have been some tiresome articles suggesting that Rene Fleming is beyond being able to sing this role - but I do not agree. I thought she was fantastic. I loved her performance vocally and as an actor. Also, Lawrence Brownlee was magnificent! The same can be said for all the rest of the tenors (7 - count 'em 7 tenor roles and sung by 6 tenors!) I also enjoyed bass Patrick Miller's brief moment as Astaroth (and the interview with him was fun). I am looking forward to hearing him as he progresses to larger and larger roles at the Met.
In short - Armida was a great production in every way. If you missed it look for it on PBS or watch the MetOpera website for it to be posted on their Met player and watch it.
2 years ago