Richard Wagner‘s Romantic operas, Lohengrin and The Ride of the Valkyries need no introduction and are no strangers to high-pitched emotions. In a recent performance at the New World Symphony for the Miami Music Festival (MMF) the audience was treated to a four hour extravaganza of high drama and exquisite offerings of both a vocal and musical nature.
The MMF Symphony Orchester and the MMF Wagner Instituted collaborated to perform Act II of Lohengrin and Act II of The Ride of the Valkyries in a glitzy and sultry summer setting. Jon Jonacek as Lohengrin, Amanda Zory as Ortrud, and Megan Nelson as Elsa delivered standout performances in the semi-stage encircling the orchestra below them. Ms. Nelson in particular was a memorable presence, resplendent in the high drama that only Wagner’s libretto and compositions can bestow on unsuspecting Miamians. The amphitheater-like structure of the New World Symphony provides a unique perspective on the performance with an accompanying atmospheric light show above the performers.
The MMF Symphony Orchestra gave a strong, straight and elegant performance of both works. In The Ride of the Valkyries, Linda Watson portrayed Brunhilde with a graceful ferocity befitting the character’s tragic destiny. Alan Held’s Wotan and Helena Brown’s Sieglinde were extravagant displays of tragic ferocity. Bedecked in subtly contemporary, yet trans-historical costumes, the performers glided with grace and pace across the very minimal stage.
A typical night at the opera, this was not. The uniqueness of splitting the night’s programming into two unique acts from separate operatic works was the genius of the Miami Wagner Institute and a scintillating way to homage to the German master.
Part of the ongoing Miami Music Festival which ends in August, the night’s events were worthy of a closer look and an even closer listen. To embark on the stories of Brunhilde and Elsa on the same night may be a bit too audacious for most sultry citizens of Miami Beach but for those blessed to be in attendance on this evening of musical exquisiteness it was just about perfect.