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ARCHIVE: Critique of Houston Press (April 2014)

Originally published 4/23/2014

I have heard great things about the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra’s performance of Das Reingold. So, with anticipation, I read the Houston Press review, written by contributor D. L. Groover. Titled “Finding Gold,” I searched for some golden words about the orchestra. Thinking I may have missed them somewhere among the voluminous words filling an entire page in small type, I went back and highlighted every word about the music. Yes, he did indeed mention a “gigantic orchestra” as part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. He described how the piece began and subsequently grew, but not one word about the playing. Perhaps when mentioning the conductor? Well, there was, at the beginning of the opera, “a dim haze from maestro Patrick Summers’s podium.” Later, we read “Under the sympathetic baton of Summers, who has a definite affinity for Wagner, exploiting all the score’s pomp, mystery and otherworldly excitement, the ensemble cast is above reproach, probably the best all-round Rheingold I’ve ever heard.” Wait a minute!! What about the orchestra? Did Summers manage to do all that from his dimly lit podium? Did that “ensemble cast above reproach” sing a capella? Please, please, give me just one word about the wonderful HGO Orchestra. I went searching, but found only fool’s gold.

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