Metropolitan Opera: Carmen

carmenI do enjoy the score to Bizet’s Carmen. It has many beautiful melodies which made for an enjoyable visit to the Metropolitan Opera this afternoon. Hearing the wonderful Metropolitan Opera orchestra and such high caliber musicians (conductor, soloists and chorus) reminded me there is no other place within traveling distance that one can hear such performances.

Carmen was sung convincingly by Anita Rachvelishvili. I also enjoyed watching the conducting of Michael Mariotti. I do hear a difference in performances where the conductor is musical and not just cueing and beating time. Mariotti was very expressive and the performers, orchestra and singers responded accordingly.

This was one of my top-ranked experiences at the Met this season!

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Opera

Ragtime in Concert

ragtimeThe musical Ragtime has long been one of my favorite musicals. I first saw it in 1996 in Toronto. The show later came to Broadway in 1998. I saw it countless times over the years on Broadway (original and revival), on tour and on college campuses. This evening, I had the pleasure to revisit the musical in concert at Avery Fisher Hall in New York with what one might consider to be a dream cast, at least vocally.

Big names from Broadway included Lea Salonga (Mother), Howard McGillan (Father), Norm Lewis (Coalhouse Walker, Jr.), Michael Arden (Younger Brother), Kerry Butler (Evelyn Nesbitt), Matt Cavanaugh (Henry Ford), Tyne Daly (Emma Goldman), Jarrod Emick (Willie Conklin), Manoel Felciano (Tateh), Dick Latessa (Grandfather), Jose Llana, (Harry Houdini), Michael McCormick (J.P. Morgan), and Patina Miller (Sarah).

It was a wonderful evening! It was so nice to revisit this beautiful score (by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens), even though the orchestra sounded a little under-rehearsed and the conductor (Sheilah Vaughn Walker) seemed to be sawing away at times (and this came out in the sound of the orchestra). The audience was filled with Ragtime fans, and they generously showed their appreciation throughout.

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Broadway

Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark

spider-man-taymor-007I saw this show for the first time in June 2012. Why would I see it again? While the show is kind of a mess musically, it is somewhat of a technical marvel. I sat in the orchestra the first time, but got a seat in the mezzanine this time. I got to see the show from a different angle, seeing much of the gratuitous flying from a different perspective.

Shows like this make me wonder why Broadway producers put so much money behind shows that are basically not very good. It will be interesting to see how long this show lasts and whether it recoups its $65 million. It is probably most popular with the tourist crowd and children. Despite high production costs, my ticket was cheap – $65. It’s hard to find a ticket to any Broadway show for that price!

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Broadway

American Songbook Series: Kristin Chenowith

KcTitled Dames of Broadway…All of ‘Em!!!, I found this show to be a disappointment. With a big name and a big personality, I expected more. I found the program fairly dull with lapses in memory on words. And what was with drinking a big Coke on stage? While I found her accompanist/musical director to be outstanding, providing some very sensitive playing, the bass player and drummer were underutilized. The most underutilized of the evening, however, were the four back-up singers on Moonshine Lullaby. Really? These guys came out for that? And just that?

I don’t understand what people see in Kristin Chenowith. A mediocre show that did not live up to it’s name or hype.

Click here for the evening song list.

Metropolitan Opera – Le Comte Ory

oryIt’s only February but this season of opera is winding down with the third to last visit to the Met to see Rossini’s Le Comte Ory. I saw this opera a few years ago and very much enjoyed listening to the music and the virtuosity of the singers.

In this performance, Juan Diego Florez played the lead of the Count Ory. An early announcement indicated he was experiencing a chest cold. However, you would have never guessed that was the case as he effortlessly maneuvered fast and high vocal passages. Another wonderful performance was delivered Pretty Yende as Countess Adele. The crowd provided both these performers with just rewards in terms of applause.

From the reviews:

“As the lecherous Count Ory, tenor Juan Diego Florez repeated the virtuoso performance he gave two seasons ago. His unique combination of slightly goofy charm, deft comic timing, and prodigious vocal agility made him downright irresistible” (AP).

Pretty Yende made a memorable debut as Countess Adèle. “It’s easy to see why this gifted and ingratiating performer is causing such a stir. Her voice has a lovely silvery sparkle to it, her manner onstage is relaxed yet commanding — and as for looks, her first name scarcely does her justice.” (AP)

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Opera

American Songbook Series: Karen Akers

akersThe American Songbook Series is an annual event presented by Lincoln Center to feature a wide range of performers presenting the American songbook in a broad interpretation. Singer Karen Akers presented a program of traditional classics and new works the evening of February 1 in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

I wouldn’t say Akers is my favorite performer. While the rather brief show seemed too staged and a bit stilted, I did enjoy her interpretations from the musical Nine (of which she was a star in the original), the newer musical Next to Normal and Sondheim’s Into the Woods.