“Did you see ‘Ariadne’ final night time?” a good friend wrote to me on Wednesday. “When you have been in Brooklyn, you continue to might have heard it.”
I had seen it, and I knew instantly that by “it” he meant “her”: the soprano Lise Davidsen, who because the title character of Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos” stuffed the mighty Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday in a method few singers can.
Unleashing floods all through her vary, from gleaming, photo voltaic excessive notes to brooding depths, Davidsen provided an almost supernatural flip in a task out of Greek legend. The radiating, shimmering, ever so barely metallic overtones that halo her voice make her sound arrestingly highly effective and visceral. You are feeling it as virtually bodily presence — urgent in opposition to your chest, elevating the hairs on the again of your neck. Given Strauss’s paring down of his orchestra in “Ariadne” to chamber measurement, that is the uncommon event when the lady onstage sounds grander at her peak than the forces within the pit do at theirs.
It was one of many good concepts of this composer and his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, to carry their main girl largely in reserve in a backstage prologue depicting her as an unnamed Prima Donna participating within the preparations for a nobleman’s night leisure. Issues flip chaotic when phrase comes down: Due to time constraints, the somber drama through which she is to star won’t play again to again, however concurrently, with a troupe of clowns. A collision — and union — of hilarity and sublimity ensues.
The unleashing of an Ariadne within the opera correct is all the time a thrill for being so tantalizingly delayed — all of the extra so with Davidsen, 35, a soft-spoken, witty, even daffy presence within the prologue, immediately endowed with a queenly stature that she fills and overflows. Within the position that first introduced her worldwide discover just a few years in the past, she comes off as timeless with out dropping her youthfulness, penetrating even at extra intimate quantity than full cry.
The conductor Marek Janowski additionally charted the transition from a vigorous sound within the prologue to a suaver, extra luxurious one, shifting with nimble vitality all through. The baritone Johannes Martin Kränzle was a vigorous, characterful Music Grasp; the mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, a fragile, subtly rending Composer.
It was too dangerous that as Zerbinetta, the clowns’ ringleader, the soprano Brenda Rae made much less of an impression. Rae performs with charming vivacity, and the half — a form of Straussian Ado Annie — is extra congenial for her than was Poppea in Handel’s “Agrippina” at the Met in 2020. However she nonetheless sounded pale. Zerbinetta’s quick-witted coloratura ought to maintain its personal subsequent to Ariadne’s spacious majesty, admittedly a next-to-impossible process on Tuesday.
Davidsen’s voice nonetheless gave the impression to be ringing within the theater the next night, when one other soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak, provided a extra modest efficiency, in her position debut as Puccini’s Tosca.
Flirtatious and spirited within the first act, Kurzak discovered her instrument pressed to, and previous, its limits within the excessive — ultimately homicidal — drama of the second. Her real-life husband, the tenor Roberto Alagna, sounded generally contemporary and generally worn as Tosca’s passionate lover, Cavaradossi. Bringing out piquant particulars throughout, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s music director, luxuriated within the rating — a bit too rhapsodically, as momentum stored slackening.
This “Tosca,” entertaining even when imperfect, was an opera. The “Ariadne,” due to Davidsen, was an enactment of all that opera can do to us and our our bodies, how helplessly in thrall to the human voice we might be.
Davidsen has already been thrilling on the Met in Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades” and Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” However her singing is so lavish in its scale that it might probably swamp even semi-realistic plots. It appears very best for Wagner’s extra mythic works, and thrives in Ariadne’s opulent stylization; here’s a position Davidsen was really born for.
Ariadne auf Naxos
By means of March 17 on the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan. And “Tosca” continues there by way of March 12; metopera.org.