Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dear Jeremy Eichler: This is what Teresa Wakim looks like

For future reference.
Sometimes the disinterest with which the Globe arts staff views its hometown is almost embarrassing.

Just a few weeks ago, a seemingly ignorant Jeffrey Gantz innocently gave away the big reveal at the core of the Huntington's Our Town.  And in today's paper, Jeremy Eichler actually reviews a performance that wasn't there, in last night's Handel and Haydn rendering of Purcell's The Indian Queen.

Eichler gives the concert a good notice (a surprise, as he has often sniffed at H&H), and I'd agree in general with his assessment - you should go see the last performance, at Sanders Theatre this Sunday.

The odd thing about the review, however, is that it praises a singer who wasn't there. The lovely and talented Teresa Wakim (at left) is a mainstay of Boston's vocal scene - indeed, she is one of its leading sopranos, whom I've reviewed or mentioned 15 times in the last four years. She has sung at Handel and Haydn, Boston Baroque, Blue Heron - in fact almost everywhere.

Alas, illness prevented her from singing at Handel and Haydn last night.   But Jeremy Eichler seems to think she did anyway!  In his review, he announces that "Teresa Wakim sang with crystalline tone and graceful musicality."  So apparently poor Ms. Wakim was warbling with crystalline tone through a bout with the flu.

An honest mistake, you say, easily explained by his not reading (or not receiving) a program insert? Not really - although that probably contributed to the flub.  For Wakim was actually replaced by three different members of the Handel and Haydn chorus - Sonja Tengblad, Jessica Cooper and Brenna Wells, all accomplished singers in their own rights, took over the various solos she would have sung.

So did Eichler somehow not notice that three different ladies marched downstage at various times to take over Wakim's duties at different junctures? Did only one of them impress him? Or did he think they were all named Teresa Wakim?  Enquiring minds want to know!

Sigh.  I don't know what's more depressing: that Jeremy Eichler is so out of touch with our classical music scene that he doesn't know who Teresa Wakim is (which would basically be like my not knowing who Karen MacDonald is) - or that he was so disconnected from the performance in front of him that he never scanned it against the cast list in the program.

All I can say - Teresa, you sound even better when you're actually singing!

So get well soon, my dear!


  1. Eichler is completely disengaged with Boston's musical community. He is basically a company spokesperson for the BSO. The idea that he is the Globe's head classical music critic is something of a joke. Teresa is a major musical presence in this town and the idea that he wouldn't know who she is (or isn't) is embarrassing.

  2. My thoughts exactly. I mean there it is, in a nutshell: if Jeremy Eichler had been paying any attention to Boston over the past few years, he would know who Teresa Wakim is.

  3. And this is what she sings like.