Opening Night at the Met

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - 10:15 AM

First of all, I have to say that it was pure fun to be at such a glittery event. Thank you Terrance McKnight, for covering the last hour of my show! I got to the Met in time to admire some of the fancy attire (since Das Rheingold has no intermission, the only time to do that was before the opera). Most of the people who’d dressed to the nines looked gorgeous, but of course there were a few outfits that went straight into a mental episode of “What Not to Wear.” 

On the grand staircase, I was delighted to run into WQXR’s always elegant Nimet Habachy, and I also got a picture of New York Public Radio C.E.O. Laura Walker and WQXR's Graham Parker (pictured, right). Best of all, I found Lina Schime – an elementary school teacher who moonlights as an usher at the Met. A few years back, I did a "Met Cameo" intermission feature about her for the Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts, and it was a kick finally to meet her.

Now for the opera. Yes, the set was astounding. Yes, the singing was glorious. But for me, the stars of the evening were James Levine and the Met Orchestra, who played like gods and goddesses. There was a huge ovation when James Levine entered the pit. Everyone was glad to see him – and hear him, and what he does with his band.

As massive (and occasionally creaky) as the set was, it seemed organic. The very first motion made by the enormous planks was the subtle waves of the Rhine River. Over the course of the evening, they went on to create (among other things) giant hands to hold the giants, and a staggering staircase for the journey to Nibelheim, as well as its cavernous interior.

And here’s something you don’t always find in an opera: the acting was gripping. Robert Lepage’s gods were real people, with real emotions, and he got the excellent cast to convey that. All the singers were wonderful; the ones I remember most are Eric Owens as Alberich, Bryn Terfel as Wotan, Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, and Wendy Bryn Harmer as Freia (with a special nod to Gerhard Siegel’s Mime, who made me laugh). 

Did I mention that the orchestra was terrific, and that it’s great to have James Levine back in the pit? I can’t wait for the next exciting installment of the Ring!

Did you attend opening night? Tell us what you thought of the production in the comments box below:

Hosted by:

Naomi Lewin


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Comments [4]

Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Never before has so much money, hugeness and technological prowess of sets, and widespread visual and auditory coverage of any opera been acquired and spent. Dealing with the musical equivalent of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel representation of the Bible in terms of MASTERPIECE, Wagner's RING des NIBELUNGEN, has scored an Olympian triumphant world-wide. Technology and the Arts, joining forces here, there is deserved optimistic hope for the future.

Oct. 02 2010 08:01 PM

Where were you when at least 1000 devotees sat on the plaza in the rain to see this peformance??? I think, Levin's conducting was his best in years., hopefully not his last. He and Lepage are geniuses.On the plaza, very few people left, despite the heavy rain,it was an expierence of a life time. Eat your heart out, Salzburg and Bayreuth. This was something new for the Ny audiences but still done with taste. All I can say, the performance was superb. I am a senior, who can no longer afford the high priced tickets. So thank you to the Met and it's sponsor, who give us a chance to enjoy "Das Rheingold". An opera lover

Sep. 28 2010 04:11 PM
Scott Rose from Manhattan

It seems a shame that for so significant an event, publications can't devote more space to their reviews. To read that Dwayne Croft was "in good voice" doesn't begin to tell you how gloriously he portrayed Donner. That rich, self-confident, ringing tone he produced when commanding the Rainbow Bridge into being. Ich kriegte Gaensehaut! That the stage mechanism pooped out on this occasion, but was nonetheless overridden in doing so by Dwayne Croft's summoning of the Bridge, is a testament to his artistic prowess. I would like to know if WQXR is planning traffic reports about conditions on the Rainbow Bridge for the rest of the run. It could only help the station's fund raising efforts for the public to know that Gods are depending on your broadcasts for some of the most practical aspects of their lives.

Sep. 28 2010 11:15 AM
Frank Feldman

You're kind of hedging a bit on the sets and stagecraft, Naomi. What did you really think?

Sep. 28 2010 11:11 AM

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