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30 April, 2016

Abduction from the Seraglio at the Met - season opening success.

Seraglio gala ends Andrew Byrne's Met marathon. Friday 22 April 2016
This Met Abduction from the Seraglio was splendid in every way.  Osmin was the old hand as Hans-Peter Konig with both vocal powers and comic talents to carry off this hilarious and contrasting role.  His younger four Christian protagonists show their amazing metal starting with Paul Appleby whose very first love-loon aria contained some ‘John McCormack’ breaths and cantabile legato singing. 
Ms Shagimuratova shone as Konstanze with two of the most difficult arias exquisitely executed.  Equally impressive was Kathleen Kim as Blondchen who slipped in some almost unbelievable high notes into her already high tessitura.  Brenton Ryan had a debut success as Pedrillo. 
James Levine received a rapturous ovation as his orchestra and the Met chorus did their 'thing' as professionally as ever.  The maestro is wheel-chair bound and is thus installed on the podium well before the start.  Rather than walking on he manoeuvres the motorised chair to 180 degrees and is spot-lit, same in the ‘curtain’ calls.  His retirement from the top job was announced recently but he will still guest-conduct a number of operas next season. 

The opera might better be called The Clemenza di Pasha (played by actor Matthias von Stegmann).  After two acts of hilarity we have a philosophical and instructive lesson for the meddlesome  Europeans.  The 1978 John Dexter production is a colourful cardboard cut-out stylised eastern palace - but it works.  
I have seen some spectacular opera at the Met during April including two performances of Roberto Devereux and a mind-numbing Elektra.  More details if anyone is interested ... Also, very grateful for the welcome in this phenomenal city.  Back to reality in Sydney for the month of May. 
Regards, Andrew Byrne ..