Marschallin Monday: Early Perfection

A 1992 Final Trio (and ending duet) with Renee Fleming, Frederica von Stade (in trousers, natch!), and Kathleen Battle.  I love it, and also Fleming learned a lot about the Marschallin in the ensuing years.  If we ever get to have tea together someday, I would ask her about that.

Anyway, it’s definitely more than 3.2 seconds of perfection.

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The Marschallin of All Mondays, Part 3

AKA: The HD Edition

So just to be clear:

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It’s only blurry because…ok yes, I was crying.

cut off at the top there, it says:

“swooning includes:
horns practicing their swooning-intervals”

So please note the all caps, then, is BEFORE THE CURTAIN EVEN RISES.  In fact it was during the “opening credits” where they show some of the bits of the opera with the names of the singers and such, and there, larger than life, were Octavian and the Marschallin kissing on the couch and I thought, I may not survive this.

I said to my beloved afterwards, when I was still mostly speechless but we had wandered a few blocks looking for a coffee, somehow being at the Met in April made the HD experience even better. And also, the HD experience made being at the Met in April *also* even better.  I was still having trouble stringing words together so I had trouble explaining, and I still do kind of, but I think what I mean is:

1) We were THERE, in the house, and it made watching it on screen feel so much more real, to know how it feels in house, how the space is, the depth of it.  Plus just the lovely giddiness of “we’ve been there, we’ve been there!”  and during audience shots from the stage we could point out our seats (generally, wayyyy up there) to our friends.

2) Seeing the “close-up” version actually confirmed a lot of what I thought I was seeing from up in the Family Circle. Plus we missed a few things – mostly what would have been hard to pick up from there, but 1 in particular so obvious I wondered if they’d added since – Sophie tears off her “Presentation” gown and throws it at her father’s feet towards the end of Act 2.  A really powerful move I can’t believe we both missed!  The close-up did make the moment where Ochs loses is toupee funnier — because yesterday he didn’t lose it, quite, it dangled off the back, and Elina kind of looked at and giggled, then squashed it back on his head, then it came off in her hands a moment later, and she looked at it and shrugged and stuffed it in her bosom.  I was glad to see *that* close up.  She handled it brilliantly and hilariously.

3) But for making our April experience better…maybe better is not the right word. May enhancing in affirmation that yes, yes this was incredible, and beautiful, and that my eyes and ears were not deceiving me about what I saw and heard and the meaning I was making from all of it.  Not that I really thought they were, deceiving me that is, but…well, like I said, this part is hard to put into words.  Something about the historic-ness of the whole run, the love the singers clearly have for it, how astounding it was, with a new production that I find so thought-provoking, and Renée‘s last run of it (and Elina’s too! and she’s so good!)…and I just felt/feel overwhelmed that we got to see it in-house too.

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Yes, I took a picture of the screen.  What?

So again, to be clear.  I started tearing up hearing the horns warm up that theme that comes in the overture, then again after the Marschallin says “Ich hab’ dich lieb” in the opening of Act 1 and so powerfully with “Heut’ oder morgen” at the end of that act (and other times too but those come to mind first).  Oh hold on, it’s this one:

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Anyway yes. I started tearing up there.  Then the “oh my god I’m gonna die in all caps” moment and then (no tears) Peter Gelb yadda yadda and then the overture started.

I cried the moment the curtain went up until Ochs showed up.  Basically.  I was awash in emotion – to get to see this AGAIN and know that it would be good because I already knew it would be good and to see them so up close and oh my god this is the last time for both of them, the last time, and I got to see them. I got to see her.  I got to see her TWICE.  And how is she, how are they getting through this without falling apart?  And oh god how Octavian *looks* at her, and she looks back, and can this just…can we just stop the clocks and not ever end this?

Oh and also kissing, and hands, and longing looks, and…

…and the singing, and the acting, and the orchestra…

…sigh.

I felt like everyone, yesterday, brought everything they had to this moment.  Not in the sense of over-acting or over-singing, but of bringing their whole hearts, their whole best for this, the last of the run and the last for the two. (I didn’t *not* feel that on 4/17 but I definitely did yesterday). There were a few moments when I wondered, particularly for Renée, if they were feeling their own emotion – there were a few times where there was just a bit of an extra pause with a phrase, a breath, a look – at the end of Act 1, and the end of Act 3 (where in both cases the text is certainly not helping with the letting go of things).

At the end of Act 1, the way it’s staged, the Marschallin puts on her coat and hat at the back of the stage, then walks to the front and looks, as if in a mirror perhaps, or out a window? All while the solo violin is doing its heartbreaking lonely thing. Yesterday…she walked to the front, and looked…and it seemed just a little longer than 4/17, and it felt like we were all holding our breath (I was, and then tears started again), and the moment stretched for an age, impossibly, as she kept looking out, kept looking out, and to me it felt like time had actually suspended itself somehow, and I thought: “Does she actually want to leave?”

And then she turned, and walked away from us, out three great sets of doors, and I wanted to stand up and holler:  “NO!  Please don’t go!”

But I settled for crying instead. And smelling salts.

All throughout I felt such a depth to Elina’s Octavian, this young person trying to figure things out. Her portrayal was very moving to me, especially at the end of Act 1 and Act 3 where you can see Octavian is hurting, confused, and in Act 3 really does not want to hurt Sophie or the Marschallin (which perhaps, make him not like all men).  So much heart there. I picked up some of that on 4/17 but even more so yesterday. A fully enfleshed character that I want to think more about (and usually my only thought about Octavian is, why don’t you choose the Marschallin?).

I’ll finish up this post by saying the Marschallin’s entrance in Act 3 to the end was just…I stopped breathing.  I think everyone on stage was feeling the moment, and I certainly was, and I was just in awe. Everything seemed to be charged, like I could feel it in my skin, and it was all I could do to hold on.

I thought I would cry during the Trio, but I was just too in awe I think?  It was so powerful, so beautiful, so heartwrenching on so many levels, that I’m sure my mouth was just agape. I was definitely on the edge of my seat.  As soon as the last note sounded, though, and the audience started to roar, I began to sob.

I wept, from joy and the overwhelming heart-rending beauty of it and the “oh my god we SAW this, in the house, oh my god,” from that moment all the way through the curtain call (oh Renée) until the broadcast ended I was still sitting there, spent, sniffling, my beloved smiling down at me as she stood to gather her things.

That much beauty makes me so happy to be alive, in this moment,
and to have witnessed this TWICE.
And that I got to share that experience with my beloved is so wonderful.
And that y’all have shared it with me too, a gift.
Make us glad, make us glad, make us glad.

~ ~ ~

I will say more, including more thoughts about the production itself (I really really hope they release this on DVD because I want to watch it over and over for all the details! Well and obviously Renée but also!  It’s a production that makes me THINK, and I love that), but I wanted to get this first wave of emotion-laden thoughts out for you.

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