Wednesday, May 08, 2002
And now, for something utterly unrelated to politics. (It's been too long.)
Monday night my wife and I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Met. It was wonderful. Oberon, sung by Bejun Mehta (I believe this production is his Met debut), was a wonder. It's a countertenor part - not something you hear every day - and he sang with force and authority. He was the perfect fairy king. All four of the lovers were very strong. The rustics, particularly Bottom, played by Peter Rose, were hilarious and strong singers. The children's chorus was crystalline and pure. My only complaint among the singers was Alexandra Deshorties' Tytania. She was pouty rather than defiant in her confrontation with Oberon, and her voice simply wasn't strong enough, something I particularly noted in her scene with Bottom. I understand they have great things planned for her, so I am aprehensive. My other complaint was about Puck. He's supposed to be played by an acrobat - that's why the part is spoken, not sung - but the actor they cast did no tumbling, no jumping, nothing acrobatic at all, in fact. The complex trumpet play that greets his every entrance was finely played but kind of pointless no physical counterpoint. Moreover, he did not play puck as, well, puckish. He was neither roguish nor charming; he wasn't even spritely, a big beefy fellow who clunked around the stage waving his insectoid wings. He was a big disappointment, but the only one of the evening.
The set might have been used for Into the Woods: green columns tilted at rakish angles to suggest a forest; oversized feather-ends of arrows (presumably Cupid's) stuck out from trees and walls. Much good use was made of striking red doors and, more so, of a red curtain that descended upon a stage within the stage on which most of the opera was played out. The scene where Tytania is awaked by Oberon from her spell-induced love of Bottom is particularly lovely; the curtain rises and we see the inner stage, the red curtain partly pulled back, the human lovers barely visible sleeping in the wood, and Tytania and the ass-headed Bottom curled up in the hollow of the crescent moon. It took my breath away. The music is somewhat uncentered in the first act; there's a great deal of plot-setting-up to do, and the music rambles about with the characters, not really going anywhere. But the second act is riveting and the third act divine.
There's one performance left, on Friday, May 10.