Magazine article Opera Canada

Metropolitan Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

Metropolitan Opera

Article excerpt

At the end of July Joseph Volpe, the outspoken, no-nonsense General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, retired from a 42-year Met career that had begun in 1964, when he joined the company as an apprentice carpenter. He rigorously learned the business, slowly rising through the ranks to become one of the most powerful men on the international opera scene. It seemed only natural that Volpe should be acknowledged and celebrated in true Met style.

And celebrate they did. On May 20, more than two dozen artists, the Met orchestra, chorus, ballet and six renowned conductors (Valery Gergiev, Peter Schneider, Marco Armiliato, Patrick Summers, James Conlon and Placido Domingo) played a five-and-a-half hour tribute to Volpe, including songs, arias, ensembles and orchestral excerpts performed on a series of outstanding sets from the Met's canon.

There were memorable performances, including: Frederica von Stade's stylish, and enormously funny, assay of the Nacio Herb Brown cabaret song, "Je cherche un millionaire"; the light, but elegant, "La speranza piu soave" from Rossini's Semiramide sung by Juan Diego Florez; Natalie Dessay's intensely moving and vulnerable "Ah! Non credea, mirarti" from Bellini's La sonnambula; Ben Heppner's ecstatic "Prize Song" from Wagner's Die Meistersinger; Dmitri Hvorostovsky's and Rene Pape's stirring accounts of scenes from Verdi's Don Carlo; Dolora Zajick's fearless singing of "O mon Fernand" from Donizetti's La favorite; Susan Graham's technically dazzling account of "Parto, parto" from Mozart's La clemenza di Tito; and Ramon Vargas's plaintive and tender "Una furtive lagrima" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.

As with most galas of this sort, there were also a number of performances that, while not necessarily disgraceful, fell considerably short of their emotional mark. …

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