Currently enjoying my re-discovery of mezzo-soprano Nadine Denize, I was recalling the only time I saw her onstage: as Geneviève in Debussy's PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE at The Met in October 2000.
This was my diary entry, written the morning after the performance:
"The Met's PELLÉAS was a tremendous evening, the gorgeous score played with great clarity and haunting beauty by The Met orchestra. This is one of James Levine's best operas, and he wove the marvelous sound-tapestry with superb control. The production is exceptionally atmospheric: the slow, timeless world of Allemonde is ever in shadow; unanswered questions hang over the hyper-civilized, stifling palace like a brooding cloud.
In an outstanding cast, Dwayne Croft as Pelléas gave an outstanding performance: the warmth of his darkish sound seeped into the music, producing long stretches of incredible vocal beauty. Susanne Mentzer was not an innocent Mélisande but a young woman whose experiences have left her dazed and shell-shocked...an engrossing interpretation, exquisitely sung...so full of lyricism and vulnerability.
It was thrilling to see José van Dam on the Met stage again. He is one of our greatest singers, and his Golaud is perfection in its sheer naturalness of vocalism and austere, haunted presence. In the unaccompanied plea to his wife for forgiveness in the opera's final scene, the house was held enraptured as van Dam sustained a gossamer pianissimo welling up from the depths of his soul.
As Geneviève, Nadine Denize's wine-coloured contralto and splendid diction made her 'letter scene' a vocal highlight of the evening. Her dignified presence in the opera's final scene was so moving. Sheer vocal magnificence made Robert Lloyd's Arkel the anchor of the evening musically, his moving portrayal of the old king culminating in his wistful acceptance of Mélisande's death and his silent departure from the bed-chamber.
Alfred Walker sang well as the Physician, and James Danner did a fine job as Yniold. The singing all evening flowed over the orchestra with speech-like ease and natural, un-theatrical simplicity. A great evening!