Who knew that Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck would be, hands down, the best all-around performance this year at the Met? (Fred Plotkin, maybe – he posted about it earlier this week on our blog WQX-Aria.) But I was totally unprepared to be blown away – by the singing, acting, staging, orchestral colors… the total package. The evening began with cheers for James Levine’s appearance in the pit at the beginning of the opera, and ended with a standing ovation. A real one.
No, you won’t walk out humming anything from the score (although the 66th Street subway station saxophonist did go to the trouble of transcribing a bit of it to serenade the “after opera” crowd). But musically, it’s not nearly as scary as you think. Not scary at all, in fact. Unlike some composers who seem to go on and on and on, in Wozzeck, Berg says what needs to be said, and moves on.
This Wozzeck is a transforming theatrical experience. It’s clear why James Levine, when he was limiting his schedule this spring, chose to keep Wozzeck. There are just three performances left this season. Don’t miss it.