Opera's replacement Wagner concert has worthy moments


THE BALTIMORE Opera Company yesterday put on its $215,000 Wagner concert for its second performance, replacing the canceled $500,000-plus "Tristan and Isolde." If opera-goers didn't get the Wagner masterpiece they wanted, they did get more than half a loaf, an enjoyable concert with some emotional high points.

The Viennese-trained conductor Alexander Sander led a sometimes moving Baltimore Opera Orchestra in Wagner's hypnotic music, especially the preludes to "The Flying Dutchman" and "Tristan" and some stellar accompaniment to Brunnhilde's arias in "The Twilight of the Gods" and "Tristan."

The soprano Judith Telep-Ehrlich closed the first and second halves with stirring renditions of Brunnhilde's Immolation scene in "Twilight" and Isolde in "Love Death" (Liebestod) from "Tristan." In her debut here, she showed a large supple voice with a technique moving easily from a soft "Rest, thou God" to a powerful "Fly home ye ravens" in the Immolation Scene.

Bass-baritone Edward Crafts made German a lovely-sounding language in the minstrel Wolfram's famous aria "Song to the Evening Star" from "Tannhaueser." The sweet ending with cellos playing to plucked violins was delightful.

Tenor George Gray's Tristan showed a full, strong sound singing with Telep-Ehrlich's Isolde in the "Love Night" (Liebesnacht) duet as mezzo Sondra Kelly warned the couple of daybreak.

Gray led off the vocalizing with Siegmund's "Spring Song" from "The Valkyries" and Kelly also sang one of Wagner's love poems for Mathilde Wesendonck, the patron's wife whom Wagner bedded.

Some fans seemed to clap rather easily, giving Sander a hand even when he was returning to begin another piece. Some sort of record was set, however, when they mistakenly applauded the man who came on stage to remove the music stands after the "Love Night" number.

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