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DSO's Season Finale Tilted Toward Large Size, High Energy

by Olin Chism 12 May 2012 11:15 AM

Supersized performing forces and a high energy level sometimes threw the balance off in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio, but the excitement was there.


This weekend’s season shutdown by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is unusual though not unique in the DSO’s history. The program is a concert performance of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio — unstaged because the Meyerson Symphony Center is not equipped for that, although budgetary considerations undoubtedly played a role.

Friday night’s performance was energetic — sometimes too energetic for my taste. The full Dallas Symphony Chorus jammed the choral terrace and often produced a mighty sound at Jaap van Zweden’s urging. You’re not likely to hear this big an effect in an opera house.

Also, with the orchestra elevated to the stage rather than sunk in an orchestra pit, its sound could be overwhelming; in a few places the poor soloist was covered.

Aside from that, things went well. The orchestra was in fine shape, the choral sound was solid, and if Van Zweden errs it’s on the side of energy rather than languor, and it’s hard to get too upset about that.

The cast was excellent. I was particularly drawn to the Leonore of Lisa Milne, the Rocco of Arthur Woodley, the Marzelline of Simona Saturova and the Florestan of Robert Dean Smith, but Robert Bork, Marcel Reijans and Detlef Roth in other roles kept the level high.

There was a sizable audience — a little larger than for a typical symphonic concert — though there were some empty seats. At halftime (it’s a two-acter) there were some dropouts, as there always is at the Meyerson.

The DSO is omitting the Saturday night performance this weekend, so Sunday afternoon’s concert will be the sole repetition. You don’t ask a single pitcher to pitch both games of a double-header; singers need a break, too.