There is nothing remarkable, I suppose, in the complex associations that surrounded my visit to Avery Fisher Hall to hear, once again, Handel's Messiah. I love the work as much as anyone with absolutely no admixture of peevishness—except for a bad performance—but I certainly can't take it every year. This time, although the name of Peter Schreier and his distinguished soloists should be enough to attract anyone, I was drawn by my fascination with singers as conductors following the outstanding—and profoundly vocal—performance of Bach's B Minor Mass at Emmanuel Church in Boston a few months ago, conducted by Emmanuel Music's new Music Director, Ryan Turner. Susan Davenny Wyner, for example, is another singer—a great one—who has made an especially valuable contribution as a conductor. In this respect this performance of Messiah was exactly what I expected it to be.
his latest ROH Rosenkavalier has so far had middling reviews, many focusing their criticism largely on the production, which originated in 1984 under the late John Schlesinger and here directed by Andrew Sinclair, which they believe to be showing its age. It has been revived many times, and therefore probably dulled by overfamiliarity for some, but to this first-time viewer it seemed understandable that the company would wish to extract the maximum mileage from it—perhaps a lull before an exciting new production comes storming in to mark the opera’s 100th anniversary in 13 months’ time?