From Music in Cincinnati

CSO, Voices Shine in Vivid "Parsifal"

Posted in: Archives
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Apr 21, 2001 - 8:23:55 PM

(first published in The Cincinnati Post April 21, 2001)

Good news. Folks turned out for Friday night's Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert at Music Hall. The attendance was down, but not so much as might have been expected at the first event at the Over-the-Rhine landmark since last week's rioting.

It was a connoisseur's program: act two, plus the Prelude and ''Good Friday Music'' from Wagner's opera ''Parsifal.'' CSO music director Jesus Lopez-Cobos - in his element here - led a vivid and well-crafted performance which, from the bravos, left local Wagner fans well served.

Parsifal, the guileless youth who transcends the lusts of the flesh to heal the wounded leader of the knights of the Holy Grail, was sung by tenor Thomas Studebaker. Soprano Margaret Jane Wray was the temptress Kundry; baritone Charles Austin the evil magician Klingsor; sopranos Mary Elizabeth Southworth, Janel Frazee, Laura Smith, Lesia Mackowycz, Cecily Nall, Esther Hyun-Nam and women of the May Festival Chorus as the Flower Maidens.

Ms. Wray, whose first utterance was a soul-shattering scream, soared as Kundry, her lush voice etching every nuance from top to bottom. Studebaker did not match her in octane and dramatic focus but revealed a pleasing heldentenor that may develop. Austin was splendid dramatically and vocally, the Flower Maidens liltingly beguiling. Central to it all was the CSO, which shone under Lopez-Cobos, whether in dialogue with the singers or in the spellbinding Prelude and ''Good Friday Music.''

Repeat is 8 p.m. tonight at Music Hall.

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