New York: Long a champion of Alban Berg`s two operas, James Levine was forced to cancel his performances of ‘Lulu’ at the Metropolitan Opera last season while recovering from back surgery.This year, despite lingering frail health, the Met`s music director was determined to be on the podium for ‘Wozzeck,’ even though it meant cutting back elsewhere in his schedule.On Wednesday night, he led the first of four performances of this harrowing work, and it was, simply, one of the great nights of the season. The triumph was due not only to Levine`s conducting and inspired playing by the orchestra, but also to a superb cast led by Alan Held in the title role and Waltraud Meier as his faithless lover, Marie.Wozzeck, which premiered in Berlin in 1925, is based on a play by Georg Buechner written nearly a century earlier. It tells in 15 brief scenes the tale of a common soldier driven to madness, murder and death by the merciless forces of society.
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