[Met Performance] CID:244940

Ariadne auf Naxos
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, April 17, 1976

Ariadne auf Naxos (26)
Richard Strauss | Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Johanna Meier

Alberto Remedios [Last performance]

Ruth Welting

The Composer
Marcia Baldwin

Music Master
William Dooley

Alan Titus [Last performance]

Charles Anthony

Richard T. Gill

Douglas Ahlstedt

Christine Weidinger

Cynthia Munzer

Betsy Norden

Nico Castel

Paul Franke

Dancing Master
Andrea Velis

Russell Christopher

Andrij Dobriansky

James Levine

Review 1:

Review of Michael Redmond in the Newark Star Ledger

Miss Meier's career star boosted by debut at Met

New Jersey, home to so many fine and famous musicians, can add another name to the list - Johanna Meier of Ridgewood, a New York City Opera soprano. A native South Dakotan, Miss Meier arrived on the New York scene in 1969 (City Opera debut as the Countess in Strauss' "Capriccio") but it has been only within the past few seasons that she has garnered the critical notices, top engagements and audience following which add up to stardom.

Nevertheless, Miss Meier has starred in more new City Opera productions than any soprano other than Beverly Sills. and it's doubtful there's an opera lover in the region who is unaware of her triumphant successes in recent City Opera productions of "Die Fledermaus" and "Die Meistersinger." The latest feather in Miss Meier's cap was an invitation to make an unscheduled Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Strauss' "Adriadne auf Naxos" replacing the ailing Montserrat Caballe.

We caught the second of the two performances in which Miss Meier performed. We loved her, as did the other 3.000 audience members, who gave the soprano a most unMetropolitan cheering oration after final curtain.

"I love Ariadne - she is one of my 'luck' roles. I couldn't be happier making my Met debut in the role. Besides, I feel I can trust Strauss. " Miss Meier said. Asked how she feels about the sudden upturn in her career, she thought for a moment before replying. "It's a long haul for everyone." she said. "It's a question of continuing to do the right roles and maintaining a certain standard of performance I'm not a flashy singer. I don't go in for glamour promotion. I'm happy to have won the recognition for the quality of my work."

"Quality" is exactly the word, as Miss Meier's performance showed. Although by no means Strauss' greatest opera, '"Ariadne" features many of the hallmarks of that master's "brutal" vocal style - extended declamatory passages, top notes held forever while projected over a furiously playing orchestra, wide tessitura leaps. The soprano handled the challenges with assurance and breathtaking style, especially the ecstatic and nearly impossible "Es gibt ein Reich." Vocal gymnastics aside, Miss Meier's tone is full and golden, weighty without heaviness, and easy throughout her range.

She is also an accomplished actress. The role of Ariadne is interesting, although difficult. In the first act ("The Prelude"), the soprano is called upon to play, well, a soprano - the opera star who has been chosen to create the role of Ariadne. It's the fun part of the opera, where the character indulges in horrified histrionics after learning she must cooperate with a troupe of bawdy minstrels.

In the second act ("The Opera"), the soprano must play Ariadne herself - the mythical heroine who forsakes love for death. In the midst of exalted philosophical meanderings, we are never sure whether the character is parody or truth, which is what Strauss intended. It's a strange role, and Miss Meier brought to it a very effective ambiguity - radiant song in contrast with maudlin posturing.

As you may have surmised,"Ariadne auf Naxos" is a modern opera by the very fact that it exploits the tension between classical culture (soprano Ariadne) and pop culture (the minstrels).

The minstrels were admirably led by soprano Ruth Welting in the role of saucy Zerbinetta. Although her performance was weak at points, Miss Welting came close to bringing the house down with the coloratura dazzler, "Grossmachtige Prinzessin."

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