Review: All Hail the Met's “Wagnerians in Concert,” Live from Wiesbaden, Germany

Stellar cast stars Goerke, van den Heever, Schager and Volle, on-demand through May 21

By: May. 09, 2021
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Review: All Hail the Met's “Wagnerians in Concert,” Live from Wiesbaden, Germany
Soprano Christine Goerke

With nary a "Ho-yo-to-ho" to be heard, the Met's "Met Stars Live in Concert" series brought four eminent Wagnerians--sopranos Christine Goerke and Elza van den Heever, tenor Andreas Schager and baritone Michael Volle--together from the dazzlingly Baroque Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden, Germany, live on May 8.

These "Wagnerians in Concert" gave a hell of a performance, with the marvelous Craig Terry on piano, under Gary Halvorson's direction. It will be available from the Met's website until just before the witching hour on May 21.

Wagner wasn't the only composer on the bill--he had some stiff competition from Richard Strauss, with the spectacularly sung quartet finale of DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN--but I expect that the largest part of the audience came for the revolutionary Wagner. There were excerpts from operas--including TANNHAUSER, LOHENGRIN, the Ring and PARSIFAL--as well as an unusual arrangement of his WESENDONCK LIEDER, "five poems for the female voice," but here orchestrated as a group of one-offs for the four singers.

Review: All Hail the Met's “Wagnerians in Concert,” Live from Wiesbaden, Germany
Soprano Elza van den Heever
and baritone Michael Volle

WESENDONCK was a pleasure to hear, with baritone Volle, ever the gentlemanly presence, in the opening "Der Engel"; Schager showing off his roots in lighter fare as he bathed the audience with his tenor in "Stehe still!"; Goerke singing of her heartfelt pain, with dazzling dynamics in "Schmerzen"; and van den Heever given the poignant and thoughtful "Im Treibhaus" and the gorgeous "Traume," triumphing in both.

The program began with van den Heever in TANNHAUSER's well known "Dich, teure Halle," an ode to a beloved hall (which certainly could describe the concert's venue in Wiesbaden). The soprano's voice has certainly blossomed since I first heard her in her role debut as Fidelio at Caramoor. But even though Wagner's music is the definition of music that singers have to warm up for, she was a pleasure in "Dich..." and I look forward to hearing her in the full role.

Review: All Hail the Met's “Wagnerians in Concert,” Live from Wiesbaden, Germany
Tenor Andreas Schager

In fact, Goerke used a pair of Strauss songs, "Caecilie" and "Allersseelen," to help caress her vocal chops for the more difficult music to come. Not that either of these is the equivalent of "Twinkle, twinkle little star": She brought power and joy to her performances. Later in the concert, her virtuosity was in full view in her duet with van den Heever in Lohengrin's "Euch Luften...Entweihte Gotter," as a brilliant Ortrud, with her mane of graying hair, to her colleague's glowing, confused Elsa and as the melting Dyer's Wife in Strauss's FRAU.

I evidently haven't heard enough of Volle on stage at the Met, because I was bowled over by his performances here: in duet with van den Heever's Senta in DIE FLIENGENDE HOLLANDER's "Wirst du des Vaters Wahl nicht schelten," he smitten with her sweet, angelic sound, she enthralled by the lure of his sorrow; as he readies for Valhalla in a manly "Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge" from DAS RHEINGOLD; and as Barak, joyfully looking forward to his children in FRAU.

This was the first time I'd heard Schager and I look forward to many more. His heldentenor flecked with baritonal quality in WALKURE's "Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater," as he sings of the sword of his dreams, was marvelous, as was his ode to his spear from PARSIFAL, "Nur eine Waffe taugt."

Goerke, who has been the host of the Met's series till these performances, broke character from her Wagner, midway, to talk of the "soul-crushing year" that performers and audiences alike have experienced during the pandemic--and looking forward to a return to the opera house. I'll second that.

Review: All Hail the Met's “Wagnerians in Concert,” Live from Wiesbaden, Germany
Schager, van den Heever, Goerke and Volle,
with pianist Terry, in Wiesbaden, Germany

As mentioned earlier, the concert will be available as a pay-per-view from the Met's website until May 21. On May 22, the next concert in the series, "Three Divas Live in Concert"--starring Ailyn Perez, Nadine Sierra and Isobel Leonard--will be transmitted from the Royal Opera of Versailles outside Paris. Tickets are available from the website.