Thursday, March 15
Anne Sofie von Otter is one of the great operatic singers of her generation. A master. Such lightness – but strength. There’s a great joy she conveys, in the very act and art of singing. And of course she’s capable of the full range of emotions within and around each song. Her own character is strong but never dominates over and above the role she plays within each piece. The Swedish mezzo-soprano has visited New Zealand previously but this was my first chance to see her.
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Benjamin Northey, opened the show before von Otter appeared to sing a half-dozen songs by Schubert.
It was, of course, lovely. But it was over too soon. Too slight. And though the dutiful playing of the orchestra was largely respectful and – well – correct there were moments where it overpowered, where the star of the night, the guest, felt like little more than a cameo artist.
An interval – really only required to re-set and infuriating as such – was followed by a sprawling orchestral work by Alexander Zemlinksy. This had no real connection to anything offered by Anne Sofie von Otter and merely dragged. A dubious, unfortunate coda. It diminished the appeal of having one of the world’s great singers on our stage. Worse, given her role had seemed so brief.
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