Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Transatlantic Ring-goer

Please welcome to the blog Stephen Sprenger, Seattle Opera Trustee who brought a friend from across the pond to see how we do the Ring here in Seattle! All opinions expressed in our guest posts are those of the author and not necessarily those of Seattle Opera. Read on!

As a member of the Seattle Opera Board of Trustees I am delighted to let everyone know that a wonderful friend from London, Robert Wills, has come all the way to Seattle to see our Ring. I am very lucky to be able to see opera in Europe and always stay with Robert and his partner, Richard Buckingham, when I am in London. We have a deal: I get to enjoy there hospitality and in turn, I try to take them to an opera at Covent Garden or Glyndebourne.

We have been very lucky to see some excellent performances. One particularly memorable night was hearing Stephanie Blythe sing Azucena in Il Trovatore at the Royal Opera. Of course, I have always proudly sung the praises of our Seattle Opera Ring and Robert knew of the world class reputation of our program. But the clincher was being able to hear Ms. Blythe, so Robert decided to make the trip to Seattle for our 2009 Ring.

So far, Robert has nothing but praise for our Ring. After Rheingold, he told me it was the best production of that opera he had ever seen. This is coming from someone who has seen the most recent Royal Opera production at Covent Garden, plus Ring cycles in Wales and other parts of the UK.

Robert was very impressed with the acrobatics of the Rhein Maidens. “How can they sing so well while they are flipping about and constantly fluttering?!” They are more than singers, they are gymnasts. Stephanie Blythe certainly did not disappoint Robert, but he was also very impressed with our Wotan, Greer Grimsley: “Not only can he sing, but he so much looks the part.” Plus he is an excellent actor.

Robert found Die Walküreto be equally good. The sets in both operas are spectacular. He especially liked the naturalistic look that seems very true to Wagner’s original vision. This coming from someone who has seen some pretty far-out European opera productions. Robert also really like our new Brünhilde, Janice Baird. Not only does she sing beautifully with a very strong sound, but she is absolutely convincing as a warrior princess. But Robert also thought the whole cast is universally good.

I will update the blog with further impressions of my friend Robert after the last two operas in the cycle. But, he has already said he means to come back and see it all again when we do the Ring cycle again in four years. I think that says it all. Seattle Opera has him hooked and as his friend I couldn’t be more pleased.

Stephen Sprenger

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hallo, Stephen!
Bring Robert back for Seattle's "Trovatore" later this season!! He'll probably love it, too; it will surely also have two great Azucenas!
Win H.