Intimations of a ‘half-empty Met’

Intimations of a ‘half-empty Met’


norman lebrecht

November 11, 2013

Our New York operavores, Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E Milnes, were at the opening night of the Frau ohne Schatten revival.

He loved it. She spent part of the four hours counting empty seats. Read here.




  • I think four hours ten minutes of Frosch is not enough; I could happily add another one or two. Neither Shawn nor Elizabeth made Steve Rubin’s mistake of saying they’d never heard of the singers (‘And boy, does he know his singers!’ – sorry, Mr. Lebrecht, I’ll stop now) but now I’d like to read a really informed review of this evening; a bland, pan-enthusiasm doesn’t do this work justice.

  • Daniel Farber says:

    Actually the house was about 80% full. The production and sets are clear and direct and serve actually to enhance an audience’s understanding of the relatively obscure goings-on. Strauss’s score contains some of his most ravishing music (e.g. the watchmen’s song concluding Act I, the love duet early in Act III) but also some of his dullest (e.g. a lot of the Nurse’s unforgiving part). The Met Orchestra showed again that it ranks among the world’s greatest; it’s clear that they respect Jurowski (whom the Boston Symphony took a pass on) whose conducting was lean and clean but often just a little too fast, going over the line from energetic to hectic. Goerke was absolutely terrific but a lot of that ovation–far surpassing the one accorded to the much-touted but sometimes inaudible Schanewills in her Met debut–was due to her being the nice local girl who made good: her fans and friends were apparently out in force. From Long Island, Goerke is a graduate of the Met’s laudable Lindeman Young Artists program. Her great years are still ahead of her!

    • MWnyc says:

      Oh, Christine had some great years before, in her Handel-Mozart years. It’s wonderful to see her doing so well again in such a hard-to-fill Fach.

      By the way, are we sure that it was Boston who took a pass on Jurowski and not the other way around? Philadelphia was interested in him, too; what I had heard is that Jurowski didn’t want to uproot his family and put his kids in an entirely different school system in the States.

  • MacroV says:

    If the MET’s extraordinary Frau Ohne Schotten is playing to a lot (well, any) empty seats, it says more about the MET audience than about the MET. They’ll still fill the house for a mediocre rendition of Traviata or Boheme but not turn out for something like this? I would blame high ticket prices but they’re paying them for those two operas.

  • Paul Ricchi says:

    Want to know how a future performance is selling? Just go to the met box office site, and you will see exactly which seats are claimed.

  • John Richmond says:

    If 4.5 hours is obscenely long for a fairytale, well…one might say the same thing about some of Wagner and his megalomania. I recall when the Met made quite a splash with “Die Frau” in the days of Rysanek and King. It seems odd that it should have fallen so far from favor, over time, unless the productions and singers have fallen quite far. But at least part of this NY report would suggest otherwise. (I wasn’t there; just wondering…)

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Each one to its taste, but Jurowski, whose style I can’t stand, was the reason why I decided to take a pass. If Thielemann – who conducted the 2001 premiere – or Jimmy Levine would have been on the podium (or even a kapellmeister like Peter Schneider) I would have definitely go.

    • Daniel Farber says:

      If “Jurowski’s style” is what kept you at home for an opera that hasn’t seen the light of day at the Met in over ten years, I’m curious as yo just what is it, what it could BE, about a conductor’s style that would have you engaging in so extreme an action? I am guessing the Met Orchestra, which gives its all only for conductors whom they respect and did so, resplendently, on this occasion, feels differently.

  • msmezzoNYC says:

    Once again, a succinct “review”. My favorite line: ” There were a lot of female voices in this opera. All the women were good though.”

  • Don Ciccio says:

    OK, there is more to it, as I don’t live in NYC, although I attend concerts there at least monthly. But they require a 4 hours one way ride, which I am not willing to do when I dislike the conductor. What I don’t like about him: the freneticism that has already been mentioned which is combined with his coldness and surpression of color in exchange for superficial excitement. Most of all, I dislike the sound that he gets out of an orchestra. I loathed his Jenufa years ago at the Met and I loathed – indeed I walked out of his Shostakovich 7 in Philly last season (or was it two seasons ago?)

    Why isn’t the Met engaging Thielemann?

    • sdReader says:

      Thielemann, like Muti, does not wish to conduct at the Met. Newsflash: the center of the universe is someplace else.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Yes, Thielemann has a reputation for conducting either 1) wherever there is best pay and 2) wherever there is no competition, except for the occasional tour to an important music center. No disrespect for the wonderful Dresden Staatskapelle, but it is the only world class orchestra in that provincial city. And Thielemann did not stand the competiton of Barenboim, Abbado and then Rattle in Berlin, or of Mariss Jansons in Munich.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      – Best pay? What about Bayreuth, where the fees are famously way below market levels?

      – Competition? Thielemann regularly guest conducts the Vienna and Berlin philharmonics.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    “Guest conducts”…