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Die Ägyptische Helena - A Feast for the Ears

Die Agyptische Helena - Metropolitan OperaSaturday at 1.30PM, WETA will broadcast Die Ägyptische Helena. Tune in, because - apart from being the only chance to hear vocal music on WETA - it's a truly wonderful Opera that does not deserve the neglect it has long suffered.

The Met cast offers several reasons to tune in on Saturday, but none greater than the spectacular Diana Damrau and Deborah Voigt. The latter sang more than admirably despite having been announced “ill” by Peter Gelb. A speckle on the very first note and slight metallic restriction that loosened as the opera went on were the only notable results of that illness in the first act. An odd, but isolated, metallic buzzing (like a blown tweeter) when she was at her most forceful in the “Zweite Brautnacht, Zaubernacht” opening of act II was the only other moment when her ‘incapacitation’ called attention to itself. Her Helen was still a vocal feat and feast, and to hear her – hopefully – in full health on Saturday (1.30PM) should prove even more rewarding. Sadly not visible on the radio, she now even believably looks the part of "most beautiful woman in the world"!

Her Helen was bettered only by Aithra with her more agile part – brought to life in every way by the German soprano Diana Damrau. With diction as perfect as her natural pronunciation, she also added a theatrical element to her use of language. An actor could not have treated language more appropriately than she. And while this might be a detail lost on all but those who follow the libretto by listening to it, her vocal contribution escaped no one in the house which went (comparatively) wild at curtain call. (Indeed, Ms. Damrau must have momentarily forgotten that she was not the top-billed singer and last to take a bow, because she started to order her colleagues together for the group-bow before realizing that Ms. Voigt and Torsten Kerl (Menelas) had yet to appear. A very cute (and on that night truly forgivable) faux pas.

Read our complete review and general discussion of this opera here. Charles collection of reviews of Helena can be read here.


Anonymous said...

Indeed, if I am at home on Saturday, I will listen to this--on WBJC.

jfl said...

Listen to it wherever the reception is best. It's not like listening to a station you don't like you give them an undeserved ratings-boost. :-)