Michael Spyres made his long awaited Met debut this month. He appeared all of two times in the title role of Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust. Alas, he wasn’t in very good voice; at least from the evidence of last Saturday’s broadcast. He’s been singing the most taxing of roles all over the place and at an astonishing rate. I can only hope that he has not permanently damaged his voice – the fate of so many promising tenors. He’s not yet 40. He will not be back for the Met’s 20-21 season. The coming season was decided before his two shows, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he never returned. Not just because he wasn’t in prime voice for Faust, but largely because the obscure French repertory to which he seems to be devoting himself is mostly out of favor at the Big House.
Here’s Spyres singing Une heure …La gloire était ma seule idole from the first act of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini which the Met has only done once. I think the opera just about the finest thing Berlioz ever did. This is from an English language performance at the English National Opera given in 2014. The tenor was in fine shape then and the opera was rousingly conducted by Edward Gardner who led the Met’s recent encounter with Berlioz. The complete performance can be downloaded here.
The Met, of course, will do the obligatory 1001 performances of La Bohème next season. Angel Blue will appear as Mimì in three or four of them. The preview site linked above is unclear about how many. It lists her a singing in April, but without a date or dates. It could be the broadcast. The season looks pretty routine except for the Met premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.
The only Heggie opera I’ve seen was Moby Dick at the San Francisco Opera in 2011. It was the dress rehearsal that I attended. I liked the work save that the final confrontation between Ahab and the cetacean fell flatter than a high note from Kurt Baum. These squashed tones still haunt 39th St and Broadway. Dead Man Walking is now 20 years old and has enjoyed some success. I hope the Met includes it in the HD series.
I get a weekly news magazine, which one doesn’t matter. I’m always about four weeks behind because of all the other stuff I try to read. My eye are bigger than my brain. A weekly new magazine in the the internet age is about as useful as casting a ballot for national office. A single vote cannot have any effect on the outcome. But reading one, on my tardy schedule, does have a single pleasure – a variant of schadenfreude. Enough time has passed for the pronouncements and opinions of the rag’s scriveners to be obviously wrong, even by the standard of a poorly informed reader such as myself.