Strauss · Intermezzo
Santa Fe Opera
Strauss' personal Intermezzo is odd, but it works. But it is the orchestra that is the real hero of the piece, in those instrumental interludes that connect and comment upon the action. They include another of Strauss' great orchestral waltzes, one of his lush, melancholic meditations on love and human frailty and a windy Straussgasm that prefaces the couple's faintly phony reconciliation.
Kenneth Montgomery's command of the score is sure-footed and flexible.
John Crosby who was to have led the Intermezzo, and this season's performances memorialize the founding impresario's championship of Strauss' stage works.
In a memorial program last Saturday, the SFO's remarkable opera house was reconsecrated the Crosby Theatre. Among the tributes was a performance of Strauss' "Four Last Songs" by Christine Brewer and the orchestra under Mr. Montgomery. We have experienced many unforgettable moments at the SFO over the past 47 seasons, thanks to John Crosby, his vision and his company. This was one of them.
John Stege, The Santa Fe Reporter
While here I also attended a revival of a vibrant 1994 production of Strauss' seldom heard 'Intermezzo'. Most of the surging Straussian melodies are carried by the constantly abuzz orchestra, here conducted with sweeping energy by Kenneth Montgomery. This vivacious production offered the suave baritone Scott Hendricks and the dynamic soprana Judith Howard as Robert Storch, a famous composer, and his bossy, fretful and snappish wife, Christine (stand-ins for Richard and Pauline Strauss). And during the storm scene in Vienna's Prater, the back walls of the set parted to reveal, as if on cue, real flashes of lightning in the distant mountains. Only at the Santa Fe Opera is Mother Nature conscripted as a scenic designer.
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
... Kenneth Montgomery's conducting dominated the evening. Some interludes had a heartrending intensity, so the repetition of their themes in the dialogue underscored the character's profound feelings. The waltzes in the ballroom scene were brought off with intoxicating verve, and Montgomery extracted a wry irony from other interludes that made one question one's sympathies for the briefly estranged husband and wife. He made a good case for Intermezzo as one of Strauss's most fluent scores.
Simon Williams, Opera News, November 2003
The intricate score was sometimes a challenge to the orchestra, but the experienced Kenneth Montgomery guided it safely through and obviously revelled in the one really lush episode, the glorious interlude depicting Christine's loneliness and her softer side.
Michael Kennedy - London Sunday Telegraph
The true hero of 'Intermezzo' is the orchestra, and Montgomery's emphasis on the lush sensuality of the score's several orchestral interludes made clear that this is indeed music by the composer of 'Rosenkavalier'.
Wes Blomster, Musical America
Intermezzo was to have been conducted by John Crosby, Santa Fe's guiding force from its inception untill 2000 and the man who made this company in the American desert an oasis for Strauss. But he died last December, so Kenneth Montgomery presided knowledgeably.
George Loomis, Financial Times
Mr. Montgomery conducts the opera with real feeling for its impetuousness as well as its lyricism.
Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News
- INTERMEZZO CONTINUES SANTA FE OPERA'S STRAUSS TRADITION
Kenneth Montgomery's forceful conducting made the orchestral interludes speak expressively. The voices were given sympathetic support.
Joanne Sheehy Hoover, Albuquerque Journal