I saw the last two productions: Peter Grimes and Tristan und Isolde. The Grimes was a new production by John Doyle, who did the L.A. Opera’s Mahagonny and Broadway’s Sweeney Todd and Company. Those, I thought, were mostly fine; the Grimes completely wrong. Instead of the expanse of British fishing village extending toward sunrise, we got a flat, vertical wall up front pierced with windows and doorways — Suffolk à la Louise Nevelson, betrayed by Britten’s horizontal expanse of music. There were great performances, by Anthony Dean Griffey and Patricia Racette and by the soaring, murderous orchestra under Donald Runnicles. After the devastating first-act curtain — “HOME, you call that a HOME???” — a squeaky-voiced soprano broke the spell to lead us on a backstage tour.
Deborah Voigt was the Isolde, as expected. The Tristan was the handsome and clear-voiced Robert Dean Smith, the last of four tenors to outlive a sad succession of illnesses and accidents (one of them hilariously caught on film) that had plagued the Met over the week, and he was perfectly fine — better by far than our John Treleaven. Jürgen Rose’s sets and costumes were full of Eurotrash geometrics and shifts of focus; give me David Hockney any day. But oh, that stupendous Met Opera Orchestra!