Saturday, June 23, 2007

The cards are turning out better than last time

ArabellaWatched Strauss's Arabella last night. It was originally telecast from the Met in 1995 and has been out on DVD for a while now. I hadn't heard Arabella for years and watching this I enjoyed it more than ever.

Hofmannsthal died soon after sending off the final version of the first act and thus never had the chance to put the last coat of polish on the text for the second and third. (He died of a massive stroke while preparing to attend the funeral of his son who had committed suicide.) The so-called weaknesses of those acts weren't apparent to me while watching. The last time I listened, I did think the second act was front-end heavy: the fantastic Arabella-Mandryka duet scene isn't properly balanced by Mandryka's drunken raging and the Fiakermilli stuff. This didn't seem to be the case last night.

Marie McLaughlin as Zdenka was a real highlight and Wolfgang Brendel's Mandryka showed that Barak the Dyer in Die Frau ohne Schatten isn't the only great role Strauss wrote for baritone.

When Zdenka finally bursts in at the end of Act III, Liz pointed out that she was now wearing black and white since she couldn't just wear just white because she wasn't a virgin anymore (as we knew from the R-rated instrumental prelude to the act) and that Arabella was still all in white. It was a good point so I screamed at her not to talk during the opera. Not really.

Here's a montage from the DVD of Natalie Dessay singing the Fiakermilli:

1 comment:

Colby Cosh said...

I bet Straussians have long late-night arguments about whether Hofmannsthal or Stefan Zweig met the more depressing fate.