The singing was even better. David Daniels—the countertenor replacement in what was to be a pants role for the late and deeply lamented mezzo, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson—sang with greater poise and grandeur than I have ever heard from him. The young Latvian soprano Maija Kovalevska, whom I’d never heard (or heard of) before, gave a spectacular performance as Orfeo’s beloved wife Euridice, revealing an ingratiating dramatic presence and a voice of uncommon clarity and richness. As the boy-god Amor, the light lyric soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, her portrayal both saucy and sweet, was as delightful to hear as always. Wagner cited Gluck as an important influence on his music, and James Levine, drawing incisive rhythms and densely massed harmonies from the orchestra, made us believe it.
THE INTERIOR OF THE ANGEL ORENSANZ CENTER, a decommissioned 19th-century synagogue on Norfolk Street, has looked different for every concert I’ve attended there. But its evocative atmosphere of neo-Gothic decay made a perfect backdrop for a showing on April 27 of the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula, adorned with a newly arranged piano score by Philip Glass, performed by Michael Riesman.
The Glass score isn’t standard Hollywood. Its incessant repetitions form a mighty river that flows beside the film, inspired by the running images but separate from them, an alluring, parallel stream of energy that sometimes can’t help but overflow its banks.
Some parts of the film, like the music-hall scene, would have been better left with no music at all. But there’s no denying that Mr. Glass’ music heightened the sensual experience of the movie, intensifying the lyric sweep of director Tod Browning’s menacing images. I won’t soon forget the sight of Dracula’s three wives, in flowing silver gowns, moving in for the kill over the hapless Renfield’s limp body, only to be warned off by the Master himself. This was a film-and-music pairing with a defiant Downtown attitude.
Russell Platt is a composer and a music editor at The New Yorker.