Rarities (Macbeth Underworld and Silence des ombres@Brussels, Donizetti festival@Bergamo, Ercole amante@Versailles, Ermione@Naples

A disappointing start of the season, this 19/20 opera season in Belgium. In Brussels the first 2 operas were from the 21st century, none of which will leave any mark. Macbeth Underworld was quite gripping stage-wise but musically superficial, I felt that this opéra had not much to add to opera literature. Le silence des ombres played in the KVS to a house empty by a third. Musically for me it all merges into the same really so nothing visionary or exciting in any of those pieces. Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice in Liège had a very interesting setting by Aurélien Bory with a mirror against the back wall which, dimly lit, allowed for some interesting effects, but the direction of van Waas was lethargic. Varduhi Abrahamyan sang Orfeo with no involvement and conviction. So I left there disappointed as well. Much better was the Don Carlos in Gent. The setting was a mix of computer-generated background sets, landscapes creeping into sight, and geometric design objects wheeled in and out and used by an almost childish Don Carlos. Vocally I much admired Leonardo Capalbo as Don Carlos and Kartal Karagedik as Posa and their voices merged beautifully in the famous duet Dieu, tu semas dans nos âmes. The opera was very well directed by Alejo Pérez. I am no Verdi fan but i didn’t get bored, that’s a touchstone. Macbeth in Gent on the other hand…

Luckily travelling has gotten easy, and refreshing productions are in fast reach, such as the Fernand Cortez in Florence and Rameau’s Les indes galantes in Paris. Why Brussels gives no barock opera is another mystery yet to be cracked. Something marvelous i saw in Bergamo, which hosts the annual Donizetti festival and this year it was the very first time in modern times that L’ange de Nisida was given a stage performance. Donizetti got the commission from Anténor Joly for performances at the Salle Ventadour in Paris in 1940. But when the theatre went into bankruptcy, Donizetti used parts of the score for La Favorite. Musically, though parts of it are known, the opera stands fully on its own legs and I’d love it to be part of a standard repertoire. A concert performance was given in London last year. Bergamo planned the absolute first staging in the renovated Donizetti theatre this year. However, unforeseen circumstances delayed the completion of the works so the staging took place in the stalls with the public looking down arena-like all around from the boxes. What made the Bergamo production a top of the art evening was the energy and emotion of all the parties. One will always find small smudges in an opus with so many players, but for the combination of operatic novelty, musical unity, singer involvement, setting, direction, costume design and lighting, this was one of the most interesting and moving opera production I’ve seen in years.

Difficult to trump such an evening and indeed Pietro il grande and Lucrezia Borgia were both a nudge less interesting. If Pietro il Grande saw a somewhat weird staging in bright colours and overly-charged 80’s design, the music was not very inspired. Clearly Donizetti tried to emulate Rossini but in the quest to find his own style a not very coherent patchwork was the result. Much better Lucrezia Borgia, at least vocally. The staging was (again) an all black setting (even most of the costumes were, except Lucrezia’s yellow) and included some very unpleasant manhandling of Lucrezia (who was pushed around like a scally, though a pope’s daughter and noblewoman). Though not the most beautiful of timbres, Carmela Remigio sings correctly, with fluid embellishments and a great stage presence. Xavier Anduaga fills the space easily with a beautiful voice. Very good all others, directed with some lengths by Riccardo Frizza.

The San Carlo in Naples gave Rossini’s Ermione. The opera had its premiere on this very same stage exactly 200 years ago. The setting was in a clean and linear white but the direction was a bit flat, with people just walking in and out and the chorus static. De Marchi’s conducted metronomically. Vocally there was really only John Irving who i found weak for Pirro’s part, and this mainly because he was inaudible. Teresa Iervolino was not as convincing as I found her in Semiramide but she has a beautiful, flexible voice and a stage presence which gave Andromaca an almost title-importance. Siragusa and Venditelli were almost excellent, radiant and charismatic voices, who portrayed the love-blind Oreste and the somewhat manipulative Ermione excellently, especially Ermiones final aria which jumps from one state of mind to another. If anything, the Naples staging confirmed Rossini’s visonary genius.

Another rarity i had the joy of seeing was Cavalli’s Ercole amante. Valérie Lesort and Christian Hecq have staged a wonderful Domino noir by Auber (one of those must-see stagings), and Ercole amante confirmed their gift of staging complicated plots with technically astonishing ideas making it charming and entertaining. They recreated the fascination of barock staging with magnificent costumes, machinery flying in and out, hatches opening, palms growing onstage, flowers becoming human, appearances, disappearances, phantastic creatures etc etc. A feast for the eye. And musically exceptionally directed by Raphael Pichon and sung by a string of baroque specialists.

Ercole amante, Direction musicale-Raphaël Pichon, Mise en scene-Valérie Lesort, Christian Hecq, Decors-Laurent Peduzzi, Costumes et machines-Vanessa Sannino, Lumieres-Christian Pinaud, Collaboration aux mouvements-Rémi Boissy, Realisation des marionettes-Carole Allemand, Sophie Coeffic, Valérie Lesort, Ercole-Nahuel di Pierro, Giunone-Anna Bonitatibus, Dejanira-Giuseppina Bridelli, Iole-Francesca Aspromonte, Hyllo-Krystian Adam, Pasithea, Clerica, Terza Grazia, Secondo Pianeta-Eugénie Lefebvre, Venere, Bellezza, Cinthia-Giulia Semenzato, Nettuno, Eutyro-Luca Tittoto, Il paggio-Ray Chenez, Licco-Dominique Visse, Prima grazia-Marie Planinsek, Seconda grazia, Primo pianeta-Perrine Devillers, Terzo pianeta-Corinne Bahuaud, Prima aura-Olivier Coiffet, Seconda aura, un sacrificatore-Renaud Bres, Ruscello, Busiride, un sacrificatore-Nicolas Brooymans, foto Stefan Brion

Pietro il grande, G. Donizetti, Bergamo, 23 novembre 2019, Teatro Sociale , Conductor-Rinaldo Alessandrini, Direction, machines and scenery by-Ondadurto Teatro – Marco Paciotti e Lorenzo Pasquali, Costumes-K.B. Project, Lighting design-Marco Alba, Pietro il Grande-Roberto De Candia, Caterina-Loriana Castellano, Madama Fritz-Paola Gardina, Annetta Mazepa-Nina Solodovnikova, Carlo Scavronski-Francisco Brito, Ser Cuccupis-Marco Filippo Romano, Hondedisky-Marcello Nardis, Firman Trombest-Tommaso Barea,

Lucrezia Borgia, G. Donizetti, Bergamo, 22 novembre 2019, Teatro Sociale, Conductor-Riccardo Frizza, Directed-Andrea Bernard, Scenery-Alberto Beltrame, Costumes-Elena Beccaro-, Lighting design-Marco Alba-, Don Alfonso-Marko Mimica, Donna Lucrezia Borgia-Carmela Remigio, Gennaro-Xabier Anduaga, Maffio Orsini-Varduhi Abrahamyan, Jeppo Liverotto-Manuel Pierattelli, Don Apostolo Gazella-Alex Martini, Ascanio Petrucci-Roberto Maietta, Oloferno Vitellozzo-Daniele Lettieri, Gubetta-Rocco Cavalluzzi, Rustighello-Edoardo Milletti, Astolfo-Federico Benetti

L’ange de Nisida, G. Donizetti, Bergamo, 21 novembre 2019, Teatro Donizetti, Direttore -Jean–Luc Tingaud, Regia -Francesco Micheli, Scene -Angelo Sala, Costumi -Margherita Baldoni, Lighting design -Alessandro Andreoli, Don Fernand d’Aragon-Florian Sempey, Don Gaspar-Roberto Lorenzi, Leone de Casaldi-Konu Kim, La comtesse Sylvia de Linarès-Lidia Fridman, Le Moine-Federico Benetti, foto di Gianfranco Rota

Ermione, G. Rossini, Napoli, 10 novembre 2019, San Carlo, Direttore-Alessandro De Marchi, Maestro del Coro-Gea Garatti Ansini, Regia-Jacopo Spirei, Scene-Nikolaus Webern, Costumi-Giusi Giustino, Luci-Giuseppe Di Iorio, Ermione-Arianna Vendittelli, Andromaca-Teresa Iervolino, Pirro-John Irvin , Oreste-Antonino Siragusa, Pilade-Julian Henao, Fenicio-Ugo Guagliardo, Cleone-Gaia Petrone , Cefisa-Chiara Tirotta, Attalo-Cristiano Olivieri, foto Francesco Squeglia

Don Carlos, G. Verdi, Gent, 25 october 2019, De Vlaamse Opera, Conductor-Alejo Pérez, Direction-Johan Simons, Set and video-Hans Op de Beeck, Costumes-Greta Goiris, Lighting-Dennis Diels, Dramaturgy-Jeroen Versteele, Jan Vandenhouwe, Don Carlos, infant d’Espagne-Leonardo Capalbo, Élisabeth de Valois-Mary Elizabeth Williams, Philippe II, roi d’Espagne-Andreas Bauer Kanabas, Rodrigue, marquis de Posa-Kartal Karagedik, La princesse d’Eboli-Raehann Bryce-Davis, Le Grand Inquisiteur-Werner Van Mechelen, Un moine (Charles V)-Justin Hopkins, Thibault, page d’Élisabeth, une voix céleste-Annelies Van Gramberen, Le comte de Lerme-Stephan Adriaens, Un héraut royal-Stephan Adriaens, photos by Annemie Augustijns

Orphée et Eurydice, C. W. Gluck, Liege, 20 octobre 2019, Opera de liege, Direction musicale-Guy van Waas, Mise en scene et decors-Aurélien Bory, Dramaturgie-Taïcyr Fadel, Décors-Pierre Dequivre, Costumes-Manuela Agnesini, Lumières-Arno Veyrat, Orphée-Varduhi Abrahamyan, Eurydice-Melissa Petit, Amour-Julie Gebhart,

Les Indes galantes, J. P.. Rameau, Paris, 8 October 2019, Bastille, Conductor -Leonardo García Alarcón, Director-Clément Cogitore, Choreography-Bintou Dembélé, Set design-Alban Ho Van, Ariane Bromberger-Costume design, Wojciech Dziedzic, Lighting design-Sylvain Verdet, Musical dramaturgy-Katherina Lindekens, Dramaturgy-Simon Hatab, Orchestre Cappella Mediterranea, Chœur de chambre de Namur, Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine / Chœur d’enfants de l’Opéra national de Paris, Compagnie Rualité, Hébé, Phani, Zima-Sabine Devieilhe, Bellone, Adario-Florian Sempey, L’amour, Zaire, -Jodie Devos, Osman, Ali-Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Émilie, Fatime-Julie Fuchs, Valère, Tacmas-Mathias Vidal, Huascar, Don Alvar-Alexandre Duhamel, Don Carlos, Damon-Stanislas de Barbeyrac,

Le silence de l’ombre, B. Attahir , Brussel, 29 september 2019, KVS , Muzikale Leiding-Benjamin Attahir, Regie-Olivier Lexa, Decor En Kostuum-Milena Forest, Clémentine Gomez Geil, Charlotte Hermant, Arnaud Mathieu, Léa Pelletier, Gabrielle Ritz, Marco Sanchis, Lynn Scheidweiler, Charlotte Seegmüller – Studenten Van De Afdeling Scenografie Van École Nationale Supérieure Des Arts Visuels De La Cambre, Begeleid Door Véronique Leyens & Simon Siegmann, Belichting-Alexander Koppelmann, Tintagiles/Aladin-Julia Szproch, Astolain/Ygraine/Marie-Raquel Camarinha, Sœurs/Bellangère/Marthe-Clémence Poussin, Ablamo/Aglovale-Renaud Delaigue, Sœurs/Servantes-Morgane Heyse, Gwendoline Blondeel, Sarah Théry, Palomides/Un Paysan-Pierre Derhet•, Medecin/L’étranger-Sébastien Dutrieux, Le Vieillard-Luc Van Grunderbeeck

Macbeth Underworld, P. Dusapin, Brussel, 25 September 2019, De Munt, Muzikale Leiding -Alain Altinoglu, Regie -Thomas Jolly , Medewerking Regie -Alexandre Dain , Decor Bruno -De Lavenère , Belichting -Antoine Travert , Kostuums -Sylvette Dequest , Dramaturgie -Katja Krüger , Lady Macbeth -Magdalena Kožená, Macbeth -Georg Nigl , Three Weird Sisters -Ekaterina Lekhina, Lilly Jørstad, Christel Loetzsch , Ghost -Kristinn Sigmundsson , Porter -Graham Clark , Archiluth -Christian Rivet , Child -Elyne Maillard, Naomi Tapiola,

Le Comte Ory @ Liège

Before Rossini’s last opera Guillaume Tell, a project came up which intended to re-use the music of Il Viaggio a Reims. This latter opera was written exclusively for the coronation of Charles X and was staged only a limited number of times. Le Comte Ory, the second last opera by Rossini, was staged with success from 1828 to the mid-19th century for approx. 400 times. Liege’s staging is a coproduction with the Opera Comique which had a set of very good singers. Antonino Siragusa, except for his dynamic  poverty, has a luminous voice which he combines with a solar appearance, easy coloratura, excellent musicality and an instinctive acting. A pleasure to see and hear him. Jodie Devos has a beautiful voice, her timbre velvety and soft, her high and top notes clear, her embellishments delicate and light. The entrance cavatina was sung beautifully with the sensual voice matching the character’s melancholy. The cabaletta was not as sparkling though, partially due to the tempi, partially due to dubious variations. José Maria Lo Monaco makes for a good Isolier, and the two basses Laurent Kubla and Enrico Marabelli sing their respective arias with great taste.

The setting is not the one originally conceived (the time of the crusades), Podalydès puts it around the time of the opera’s composition, so that religious puritanism plays a bigger role. The stage design is simple with the interior of a church in Act 1 and the walls of the castle in Act 2. But there is basically very little action if not for the traditional singers’ movements. The (very) rare gags serve only their own purpose, there is no concept except for the temporally shifted setting. The opera works because the libretto is well written, but the staging is a but dull and clearly the singers don’t always know how to move. What to say about the musical direction of Jordi Bernacér. The tempi are extremely slow. So slow I rarely heard any opera directed (maybe Otello by Ferro in Naples, where I was equally bored). The effect is of a big long boring musical piece after another. The aria of the governor seemed endless. None of the pieces had any energy any vigour; the music sounded repetitive and tedious. This production didn’t do Rossini any justice, it’s nothing like Rossini should sound like.

Direction Musicale-Jordi Bernàcer, Mise En Scène-Denis Podalydès, Décors-Eric Ruf, Costumes-Christian Lacroix, Lumières-Stéphanie Daniel, Le Comte Ory-Antonino Siragusa, La Comtesse Adèle-Jodie Devos, Isolier-Josè Maria Lo Monaco, Raimbaud-Enrico Marabelli, Le Gouverneur-Laurent Kubla, Dame Ragonde-Alexise Yerna, Alice-Julie Mossay, Mainfroid-Stefano De Rosa, Gérard-Xavier Petithan, 02/01/19, photo by https://www.operaliege.be/spectacle/le-comte-ory/

The Rossini Opera Festival 2016 @ Pesaro

_12A3935SchrottPeretyatkoAlaimo_640xWhat a pity that il Turco in Italia was such a disappointment this year. Davide Livermore, director of several operas in Pesaro for several years now, transports the opera into a Fellinian movie. Similarly  L’Italiana in Algeri of last year was transported into the 60’s, where Livermore had to be careful on keeping the decade’s style. Differently, in Il turco in Italia, by sticking to the fellinian idea, he transforms the Turco-characters into Fellini-characters, adds several characters from the movies and has to match all the different characters among each other and with the libretto. And this sometimes leads to a boring confusion and forced situations that annoy on the long run. The set is beautiful, as are the costumes designed by Gianluca Falaschi. Musically the things don’t enthuse either. Speranza Scappucci does her best to underline the details of the score but directed the singers and orchestra without vivacity. Completely! Erwin Schrott as Selim is more interested in the setting than looking to sing in Rossini’s style…another disappointment. DSCF5635_640xRene Barbera has all the notes but leaves a bit cold. Olga Peretyatko, who is gorgeous on stage, could have been a good Fiorilla but she does not convince in the first act, let alone in her big aria Squallida veste bruna, which she finishes (badly) with big effort (partially excused by a note she issued saying that this was due to an allergy). Excellent, on the other hand, Pietro Spagnoli and Nicola Alaimo, who, except for an amazingly clear diction, vital for a comic opera, and the only two main characters that care pronouncing properly, understand how to sing Rossini, but alone cannot save the show from a sense of averageness.

 

_12A3131_640xCiro in Babilonia was given with a set, also by Davide Livermore, conceived for the ROF in 2012. The setting is created around the slient movie theme, with spectators in liberty style, projected intertitles, simplistic acting with emphasized body language and facial expression, and intentionally unrefined projections. it is a very clever direction which is easy to follow and extremely pleasant to watch. Musically Jader Benjamini gives a dramatic though airy and light imprint to this score of the young Rossini and accompanies the singers well. It would be very interesting to hear him in a more mature Rossini. The big star is Ewa Podles. The voice has still an amazing range, I am always impressed to hear both the almost manly-deep and the almost soprano-like high notes  in one single voice. Podles is expressive and a very good actress and impersonates not only a Persian prince but a loving father and husband. _C2A8163_1_640xThis is singing with a capital S and shows that Podles has, with over 60 years, still many strings in her bow and she received the ovation she deserved. Siragusa is always quite good with his luminous timbre, fluency in the colorature and attentive to diction. Petty Yende was a nice surprise. The quick florid passages were not as articulated, but she showed a good control in the extreme high register and was overall convining in the Rossinian style. A bigger attention to intonation would have completed her interpretation.

 

_MG_4549BritoSpyresJiciaMimicaAbrahamyan_1_640xLa donna del lago was, in my eyes, the most refined of Mariotti s conductions so far. From the first bars of the  introduction it is clear that he pays much care to the  details of the score, giving much attention to soli’s and accompaniment, uncovering the sounds of gurgling water, “morning dawns”, etc. etc. His tempi are perfect, dynamic and swift, without indulging in  superfluous oversentimentality, still tender and warm where  required, with an incredible play of rubati and attention to  details as rarely heard.  It is true what one says about Florez and the coloratura  that it is less fluid, but what is lost in flexibility is  gained in the search of softness and phrasing, colours  and accents. Unmatched. Michael Spyres  interprets the extremely difficult role of Ridrigo, cockily shooting high and baritonal notes and leaping over the pentagram as if there was no tomorrow.  _12A8691_640xVery good also Salome Jica in the role of Elena, good  coloratura and good range. Varduhi Abrahamyan is very good, though  lacks, in my eye, these Podles-like fullness in the lowest part of the range. Very good also the  minor parts. Michieletto sets the action as flashback. The opera begins with Malcolm and Elena living together in old age, with Elena thinking  with regret to the times she met the king. And Michieletto shows what Tottola and Rossini only hint at, a  loving relationship between the two, so the whole  direction centres around a love that could have been  and is (maybe) still there. In the world of subject matter experts a well known theory but Michieletto makes it visible with the  attention to details and coherence that is his trademark.

 

Il turco in Italia: Direttore-Speranza Scappucci, Regia e Scene-Davide Livermore, Videodesign-D-WOK, Costumi-Gianluca Falaschi, Progetto luci-Nicolas Bovey, Selim-Erwin Schrott, Fiorilla-Olga Peretyatko, Geronio-Nicola Alaimo, Narciso-René Barbera, Prosdocimo-Pietro Spagnoli, Zaida-Cecilia Molinari, Albazar-Pietro Adaini

Ciro in Babilonia: Direttore-Jader Bignamini, Regia-Davide Livermore, Videodesign-D-WOK, Scene e Progetto luci-Nicolas Bovey, Costumi-Gianluca Falaschi, Baldassare-Antonino Siragusa, Ciro-Ewa Podles, Amira-Pretty Yende, Argene-Isabella Gaudí, Zambri-Oleg Tsybulko, Arbace-Alessandro Luciano, Daniello-Dimitri Pkhaladze

La donna del lago: Direttore-Michele Mariotti, Regia-Damiano Michieletto, Scene-Paolo Fantin, Costumi-Klaus Bruns, Progetto luci-Alessandro Carletti, Giacomo V/Uberto-Juan Diego Flórez, Douglas-Marko Mimica, Rodrigo-Michael Spyres, Elena-Salome Jicia, Malcom-Varduhi Abrahamyan, Albina-Ruth Iniesta, Serano/Bertram-Francisco Brito, Elena anziana-Giusi Merli, Malcom anziano-Alessandro Baldinotti

Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro, 2014

20140812_barb7The Academy of Fine Arts of Urbino, who was assigned to stage this year’s Barbiere di Siviglia did a marvelous job. The students had such a well conceived view of the opera, that one would have to seriously reconsider the big names in opera, certainly if compared to the main attraction of the festival, Armida.  Only few scenic elements are seen on stage, but very cleverly used. The singers are well directed, they move well, on stage and in the stalls, lights are playfully projected on the balconies (for e.g. during the storm scene, light droplets fill the whole opera house in a whirling crescendo which goes hand in hand with the music), mimes added for small background sketches. But numerous are the brilliant and entertaining ideas (the Calunnia was particularly successful), which make this Barbiere a joy to look at. The singers are not only good actors but they are all quite credible in their roles and all sing very well. Although I have my preferences, I would like to praise the group effort especially of Alex Esposito, Chiara Amarù, Florian Sempey and Juan Francisco Gatell, all of which manage the score’s requirements with relative ease. The director is Giacomo Sagripanti who brillantly directs a sparkling Orchestra Comunale di Bologna, cheerfully singling out minor passages in the score. Even without subtitles one was able to understand everything and the public was amused.

rossini-pesaro-armidaThe other opera given in Peasaro this year was Armida, composed for the Neapolitan forces of the San Carlo theatre. Isabella Colbran’s role is intepreted by Carmen Romeu. This Spanish young singer has a very fluid coloratura and a nice and warm middle register. Her lower notes are not as present and the top notes a bit strained and sometimes not in pitch. Given the demanding part of Armida, however, I still think Miss Romeu did a good job. Antonino Siragusa on the other hand was, in my opinion, almost perfect. Rinaldo, who succombs to the love for Armida, is particularly well suited for his solar voice (his duets with Armida are simply beautiful) and the fiendish coloratura is impeccably mastered (e.g. in Unitevi a gara). The second tenor in Armida was Dmitry Korchak who was also very well suited for his role(s), the coloratura and the high notes pulled off convincingly, as was Carlo Lepore as Idraote/Astarotte. Less incisive and vocally not as plausible was Randal Bills as Goffredo/Ubaldo, who in some cases was barely audible above the orchestra. My big disappointment went to both the stage and the music director. Luca Ronconi places two huge mobile panels on stage, filled with hanging Pupi Siciliani. All the men on stage are also equally dressed with the same armour. This was actually quite convincing for revoking the knightly world of the plot. But Armida is a magical opera, where Armida, torn between love and hate, whimsically changes her isle between horrid wilderness (orrida selva) and magical garden (giardino incantanto, ameni colline), flying away, in the last scene, on a carriage pulled by two dragons, “enveloped by globes of fire and smoke“. Nothing of all this. The only difference between the acts is the background, which changes from a grey-ish/brown rippled cloth to a golden wall. The wooden panel with a plastic plant-like object (enchanted garden??) only ads to the horrid. Difficult to get immersed in Tasso’s world with such a distant interpretation. Equally emotionally detached was Carlo Rizzi. Who directed a score with very few means of expression and very little subtleness. The musical pieces sound like a disconnected patchwork, with no caring stitches to hold them together. The chosen tempos are on the swift side, with no rubati and little pertinence to the score. Some of the strettas don’t follow the singers with the result that coloraturas become mushed and unclear. The pleasing ballet in Act II was modern and energetic.

Musica: Aureliano in Palmira, opera riscoperta al RofThird opera in Pesaro is Aureliano in Palmira. When Will Crutchfield directs on stage, his movements are aggressive and stiff. And this is exactly how the orchestra sounds: an emotionless metronome. The American director starts the opera with lethargic tempos that last until almost half the first act. Doesn’t do Rossini, who poured magnificent music into the score, any justice. The orchestra Sinfonica Rossini plays faultily and not always together.
Arsace’s role is two sizes too big for Lena Belkina who completely lacks dramatic weight for the interpretation of the Persian prince. All the notes were there, but when she was alone on stage and Crutchfield was conducting one or two yawns had to be suppressed. Opposite to her is the tenor. Nothing seems too difficult for Michael Spyres who has a homogeneous and strong voice throughout his range. However, although the coloratura was precise, I would wish a better articulation of the embellishments. Jessica Pratt is a delicate Zenobia and overall I think it is the more lyrical passages that suite her most. But even in the more dramatic of strettas and caballettas, the Australian soprano sings with agile vigor. The cast is completed by the very good Raffaella Lupinacci as Publia, Dimitri Pkhaladze, Dempsey Rivera, Sergio Vitale and Raffaele Costantini. Cleverly simple but effective is Mario Martone’s setting, a small labyrinth with movable, semi-transparent cloth panels. Martone is able to convey the tragic love of Zenobia and Arsace, who have to jump cruel hurdles for their love. Costumes are oriental in an convincing mise en scene.

reims2013gJust two words on the Viaggio a Reims, the yearly performance given by students of the Accademia Rossiniana led by Alberto Zedda. As usual one is impressed by the motivation and the enthusiasm of the young voices, especially in an opera as Il viaggio a Reims, which was explicitly composed for the coronation of Charles X for 14 of the greatest singers of the time and withdrawn after only 4 performances. It is also normal to hear the young artists lack vocal experience or stage presence, which is benevolently ignored for the sake of the group effort of singers under stress. But this year several voices hardly reached sufficiency. I would only like to mention Nico Darmanin and Aya Wakizono who I quite liked and were able to master their roles vocally and on stage. Yunpeng Wang had a pleasing voice but couldn’t get quite through the interpretative obstacles of his aria. Shahar Lavì and Isabel Rodriquez Garcia sang well albeit coldly their respective roles (Corinna and Madame de Folleville). (16/8/14)