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/

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La Cenerentola in Liège or Un’acqua senza sale

c2Lovely start of the Liège season with Rossini’s La Cenerentola. For the mise en scene, the Opera Royal relied on Cécile Roussat et Julien Lubek, the same duo that tackled Die Zauberflöte in Liège 4 years ago. In both cases one notices the effort that is put behind the creative concept. In the case of La Cenerentola the opera opens with Don Magnifico’s palazzo in agonia split in 3 parts on a rotating platform (Don Magnifico’s bedroom, the outside space, and an all-purpose room. The rooms change to the throne chamber in Act II). The singers move freely from one space to another and the platform follows them rotating from room to room. The style and clothes are those of a fairy tale (or children’s book) and everything is enjoyable to look at and satisfying as far as the scenery goes. What was fully lacking was a choreography. Everything was very static, with minimum interactions. Emotions were conveyed only by the libretto’s words and Rossini’s music. Very disappointing.

 

c1 (1)The singers are overall very good, though. I especially enjoyed Bruno de Simone as Don Magnifico with an important stage presence, an excellent diction and a smooth voice. An excellent fit for the egomaniac social climber. Enrico Marabelli was an amusing Dandini with convincing voice and fairly sure in the coloratura. Dmitry Korchak is an excellent tenor who mastered the prince’s part with ease although the acuti of “Dentro al mio cuo—RE“ had to be prepared with enough time…. Laurent Kubla as Alidoro started very convincingly in his key entrances in Act I [as a beggar and with his “book of spinsters” or Codice delle zitelle), with an admirable pronunciation. Pity that the aria with which he brings Cenerentola to the ball shows his limits. The sisters Julie Bailly and Sarah Defries (from the latter, one could understand every single word that was said), sing well. Now Marianna Pizzolato is surprisingly the weakest link. Not only does she move less than all the others [which is quite something with such a static choreography] but her voice is not at all what I remember her for her previous Rossini, in Liege and Pesaro. It’s a singer who until very recently showed a deep, warm, pleasant voice, with admirable coloratura, capable of filling a theatre twice as large as the Liege house. Throughout the performance however I barely heard her, her coloratura only approximate, the acuti strained and almost screamed, the low notes gone. She was, I unhappily must say – quoting Tisbe describing her sister – un’ acqua senza sale.

Paolo Arrivabeni directs satisfactorily an orchestra that improved much in the Italian repertoire.