Arlene Judith Klotzko
Richard Tucker Gala, Avery Fisher Hall, New York, 6. November 2011
Richard Tucker Remembered
The Richard Tucker Foundation has honored and supported the careers of singers including Joyce DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee, and Aprile Milo. I attended the Gala last year and was delighted to be invited again. This year’s honoree is the marvelous soprano, Angela Meade, who has already embarked on a high-profile career. This season, she has appeared at the Met singing the title role of Anna Bolena. In February, she returns in Ernani.

Meade opened the program with “Santo di patria” Odabella’s aria from Attila, an opera first and last heard at the Met under the baton of Riccardo Muti. She sang with a huge, luminous voice, rich timbre throughout her range, impressive vocal dexterity and thrilling high notes. Her second appearance on the program as Norma, in the Act I Trio, alongside Dolora Zajick as Adalgisa and Frank Porretta as Pollione was simply electrifying.

The lives of opera singers being what they are, there were cancellations. Meanwhile, Jonas Kaufmann’s name had been added. Good thing too. He and his 2009 co-star from the La Scala opening night production of Carmen, Anita Rachvelishvili, stepped into the programming gap and performed the opera’s last scene. Rachvelishvili, with her burnished, opulent lower register, was a fine Carmen as she had been at the Met last season.

Kaufmann’s Don José had graced the stage of the Met last spring for just two performances. There as here, his portrayal of this decompensating character was so vivid, his singing so extraordinary, that for a time it seemed the audience barely seemed to breathe. Last night, out of context and with virtually no room to move around on the stage, Kaufmann was José – still besotted, scorned, tormented and finally a killer.

There were actually two Turiddos on the program, Kaufmann, singing “Mamma, quel vino e generoso” and the Korean tenor, Yonghoon Lee, who sang a duet with Dolora Zajick as Santuzza. Lee sang well with a bright ringing tenor voice and Zajick was a force to be reckoned with in her intensity and expressivity.

But again it was Kaufmann who drew us in and thrilled with stunning high notes and exquisitely calibrated control of dynamics, all the while maintaining such a lovely line. This was my third time seeing him in less than two weeks. In every performance, every incarnation, every style, Kaufmann continues to astonish. His NY lieder recital debut took place at the Met exactly a week before the Tucker Gala. Six days before that, I saw him in a concert program in London, where his Wagner was thrilling. But it was in the verismo arias that he conveyed the strongest emotions – freed to do so by his utter technical mastery.

Bryn Terfel, just one day after finishing the third of his performances as The Wanderer in the Met’s new production of Siegfried, brought down the house with a portrayal of the most mischievous of his Bad Boys, Dulcamara He sauntered onto the stage and, with the first words of his aria “Udite, udite” and a wicked grin, Terfel waggled his finger at latecomers just taking their seats. He had bottles of beer crammed into every pocket.

Stephanie Blythe, seen at the Met last season as Fricka in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, scaled back her powerful voice to deliver a charming, elegantly sung “Connais-tu le pays” from Mignon with a lovely lilt and fine legato. The other mezzo on the program, Dolora Zajick, sang not just a vibrant Adalgisa and the thrilling Santuzza with Yonghoon Lee, but also appeared as Joan of Arc in Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans. The gifted singers of the New York Chorale Society were superb here as they were all evening.

Fine contributions from the rest of the singers, included Maria Guleghina in a gentle, touching “Vissi d’arte”, Zeljko Lucic in Verdi’s “Eri tu”, and Yonghoon Lee in “O Souverain” from Le Cid. In the ebullient final selection, the fugue from Falstaff, the featured singers, led by Bryn Terfel, were joined by Deanna Breiwick, Renée Tatum, Theo Lebow, Ta’u Pupu’a, Edward Parks, and Keith Miller. And, of course, throughout this marvelous evening, the audience basked in the sight and the sound of the Met Orchestra – here under the baton of Emmanuel Villaume. The superb program notes by the Foundation’s Executive Director, Peter Carwell provided a richly evocative context for the music. It was simply a lovely evening.


 back top