By Susan Brodie: Toi Toi Toi!
Radio silence explained by life events: I’ve become de facto executor for the estate of a French relative. I’ll say only that it’s an exacting and extremely edifying cultural experience that I would recommend to no one. Still no time for long essays, but I have attended many fine musical events and heard new talents that should not go unmentioned.
A tickler: last night the Wagner 200th birthday gala concert in Bayreuth was broadcast on the French-German ARTE TV network. After taking the stage will the orchestra want to return to the covered pit? Christian Thielemann led a crackling performance of Act I of Die Walkure, with the menacing and resonant Hunding of Kwangchul Youn, Eva-Marie Westbroek’s ardent Sieglinde, and an exceptionally animated Johann Botha as Siegmund. Following Westbroek’s “Liebestod” (not my favorite but not bad), the real highlight of the second half was the “Siegfried Idyll” and “Funeral Music,” full of emotion and with brass playing any orchestra could envy. The concert ended with the overture to Die Meistersinger, rousing but anticlimactic after the sublime Ring excerpts.
Wagner didn’t have much luck in Paris, and his 200th birthday went all but unobserved here, lost among the non-stop tributes to Henri Dutilleux, who died on May 22. But Opéra de Paris is presenting its first-ever Ring Cycle June 16-26, which I look forward to seeing and commenting on.