On Sunday afternoon, we attended the Met Orchestra's concert at Carnegie Hall - one of the few chances the sublime orchestra gets out of the pit and on to the stage. The afternoon was conducted by 85 year old Pierre Boulez who made his Met Orchestra debut. The program included Bartok's "The Wooden Prince" and Schoenberg’s “Erwartung” which is a short one act opera about a woman who is searching for her lover in the woods.
It was sort of an "Into the Woods" sort of afternoon, but there were no fairy tale characters in site. This was more the Black Forest. The Bartok piece approximately one hour long and was written as a ballet featuring a young prince journeying to meet his princess. It's lush and frightenly intense with the only relief of whimsical sounds briefly coming from the percussion section and the sound of the cellists tapping their instruments with their bows.
The second piece is what we came for - Deborah Polaski sang Ewartung. I previously heard it performed with the Met Orchestra in January 2006 by Anja Silja. At that point, I had never heard anything so frightening in my life. I joke that after I had to go home and lay down. Sally and I heard Polaski sing Elektra - which is every scarier - with the New York Philharmonic at the end of last season. Since then, I had been determined to hear Polaski sing live again. While the piece is a psychologically scary - a woman is rendezvouzing with her lover in the woods, panics when she becomes disoriented, then finds him dead, then thinks that perhaps she did, then blames him for neglecting her all compacted into an intense and mind blowing half hour - Polaski managed to also make it sound beautiful. Her voice is so powerful and unbelievably soul stirring. The tones are of the thickest and richest molten gold. Even above the bohemith Met Orchestra, she can be heard - it's the most beautiful controlled screaming I've ever heard. She made me feel empathy, rather than fright, of the agony the woman was experiencing.
Now that she's performed with Met Orchestra at Carnegie, perhaps the Met Opera will bring her in the house in a near season. Otherwise, we may have to break out the passports.