Semiramide @ La Fenice

Semiramide comes back to La Fenice, for which it was composed in 1823. It was Rossini’s last opera for Italy. The setting by Ms Ligorio is quite interesting as it changes from a superficial all-golden all-beautiful in the first act to a dark and black in the second, when all mysteries are unveiled. The dark represents, I imagine, the bleak future and dark emotions of almost all characters starting from Idreno who sees his throne snatched away by Arsace, Azema who is forced by the tenor to love him, Arsace discovering the awful truth and Semiramide brought to justice. The dancers are unconnected but bring some movement to the otherwise static plot.

The title role is adequately sung by Jessica Pratt. In the second act she brings a wider pallet of colours to the part and her top register shines but I felt the first act was less emotional and the variations in the repeats were of dubious taste. Enea Scala has some dryness in the high register, I think Idreno is more suited to a tenore di grazia and his push in the upper register make him lack colours but the boldness he approaches the role with is stunning. Esposito is excellent as actor and singer though the character of Assur- I guess-allows him to pull only a limited amount of registers. Teresa Iervolino has a strange enthusiams to attack some notes from below instead of straight on, but except for this she was my overall favourite. Arsace allows for a whole range of emotions and I was touched throughout, the low range of her voice is warm and generous and her coloratura comes with enviable ease. Smaller roles are adequately cast and they all sing well, I especially enjoyed the clear voice of lovely Azema. Frizza directs.

Direttore-Riccardo Frizza, Regia-Cecilia Ligorio, Scene-Nicolas Bovey, Costumi-Marco Piemontese, movimenti coreografici e ballerina-Daisy Phillips, Semiramide-Jessica Pratt, Arsace-Teresa Iervolino, Assur-Alex Esposito, Idreno-Enea Scala, Oroe-Simon Lim, Azema-Marta Mari, Mitrane-Enrico Iviglia, L’ombra di Nino-Francesco Milanese, 27/10/18, photos by Michele Crosera

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Vaccaj’s Giulietta e Romeo in Martina Franca

Nicola Vaccaj is now mainly famous for his didactic singing method for opera singers but in his time he was an accomplished composer albeit in the shadow of Rossini. His Giulietta e Romeo  (1825) was very well received and often performed until Bellini wrote his own version in 1830. And even then, Maria Malibran, when singing Bellini’s opera, chose to sing Vaccaj’s finale instead of the original one, a practice frequently copied. Personally I find the music extremely pleasing with some excellent pieces such as the love duet in act I, the father’s touching aria in act II, the whole finale just to mention a few.

The delicate Giulietta was extraordinarily interpreted by Leonor Bonilla. Her beautiful voice rose to the top, ethereal notes very easily. Raffaella Lupinacci as Romeo perfectly rendered the energy of young Romeo. Vocally she did an excellent job in the chiselling of colours but her voice is not strong enough in the low notes and at times she was not very audible. Christian Senn’s Lorenzo was also very good with an equal register everywhere and a very good pronunciation. Leonardo Cortellazzi was an excellent Capellio, good pronunciation, vivid top register, beautiful timbre and fine impersonation of the compelling character the librettist Felice Romani makes of the father. I was less impressed by Vasa Stajkic’s Tebaldo who’s interpretation was a bit monochrome. The excellent Paoletta Marrocu could only make a stage-wise impressive and vocally expressive loving mother. 

The slightly gothic staging was simple but effective. A lateral transversal wall with medieval touches (representing first the Capulets’ palace with the balcony, and then the walls of the cemetery), a tomb and impressive lighting was enough to put us straight into the plot. The movement of the masses was excellent and also the single characters were admirably guided and thanks to Cecilia Ligorio’s direction the show had basically no drops in tension. In my opinion the only disagreeableness came from the conductor. He got loads of applause but in my personal view he directed too much on the slow side, so much as to sometimes lose the arch of the musical line. Directing in an open space he also did not balance the volume enough and some of the beautiful accompaniment got lost in the…open air.

Direttore-Sesto Quatrini, Regis-Cecilia Ligorio, Scène-Alessia Colosso, Costumi-Giuseppe Palella, Luci/Luciano Novello, Capellio-Leonardo Cortellazzi, Giulietta-Leonor Bonilla, Romeo-Raffaella Lupinacci, Adele-Paoletta Marrocu, Tebaldo-Vasa Stajkic, Lorenzo-Christian Senn, pictures from backtrack.com by Fabrizio Sansoni and Paolo Conserva, and provincia.mc.it, 31/07/18