Lucia di Lammermoor @ Liège

12239972_1093581437327630_8124868623146702813_nIt is always a risky choice to perform the classics of the operatic repertoire. But the public flocks like sheep and fill the house, sometimes regardless of the quality. This Lucia unfortunately doesn’t stand out. The direction of Cobos is conventional and monotonous. He wakes up a bit ‘in the first finale but for the rest directs as if zapping through TV channels with his slippers on. The setting is beautiful, though, with the medieval tower in the center which can be rotated to see both the exterior and the interiour, with trees going up and down etc (Although the fountain in Lucia’s first aria seems like taken from a crib in the nativity scene made by a child in kindergarten). The singing is acceptable from most singers: Ivan Thirion as Enrico sings well but slightly throaty, his low register is weak and the voice doesn’t expand. Annick Massis sings well, the coloratura is clean and still exciting, but she sings very cautiously which doesn’t allow her to really immerse herself into the role. Her madness was accompanied by the always welcome glass harmonica. Celso Abelo sings quite well. The curse is effective, the pronunciation excellent and the singing bright and light. Roberto Tagliavini’s short role of Raimondo was excellent but Alisa, Arturo and Normanno barely acceptable. The direction of Mazzonis di Pralafera is at times ridiculous. I think it is always very delicate to show the actual killing of Arturo. In Liege in the few minutes between the end of the duet Arturo/Enrico and the moment Lucia sings her madness-aria we see Lucia and Arturo enter their nuptial room, Lucia stab him with a knife, take a sword from a shield that adorns the wall, stab him again on the floor, Raimondo enter the room acting all surprised, dash down to give the news (Dalle stanze ove Lucia) and Lucia appear on stage….with Arturo’s head (!!!)… Additionally Enrico, with his exaggeratedly sudden aggressiveness, pushing people, grabbing them at the collar etc, was farcical and ludicrous. It was all very Benny Hill-like: the least you want in a dramatic opera. All in all not fully convincing.

Direction musicale-Jesus Lopez Cobos, Mise en scène-Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, Décors-Jean-Guy Lecat, Costumes-Fernand Ruiz, Lumières-Franco Marri, Lucia-Annick Massis, Edgardo-Celso Albelo, Enrico-Ivan Thirion, Raimondo-Roberto Tagliavini, Arturo-Pietro Picone, Alisa-Alexise Yerna, Normanno-Denzil Delaere

Advertisements

Don Giovanni (Brussels), Lucia di Lammermoor (Verona), Così fan tutte (Ghent)

don n giovanni1The Don Giovanni in Brussels under the direction of Warlikowski was awful. I recommend  this director to read the libretto the next time. Da Ponte’s libretto offers a multitude of double meaninsg. No need to descends into pornography just for the sake of it. Musically things were not exciting either with a very disappointing Barbara Hannigan as Donna Anna. As much as she is acclaimed in modern music, she didn’t convince me at all in the classical style. I couldn’t find full enjoyment in any of the other singers (Don Giovanni-Jean-Sebastien Bou, Il commendatore-Sir Willard White, Don Ottavio-Topi Lehtipuu, Donna Elvira-Rinat Shaham, Leporello-Andreas Wolf, Masetto-Jean-Luc Balestra, Zerlina-Julie Mathevet) Don Giovanni never seemed such a drag…..

 

I rather preferred the Lucia di Lammermoor in Verona, which, with its thrifty set, gave a more complete and satisfying reading than the Mozart opera. Musically wonderful with a (to me) unknown Maria Grazia Schiavo who sang with a full deep  and a good upper register. The slightly unpitched top notes from the first two musical pieces didn’t affect the overall thrilling performance. An equally wonderful Piero Pretti as Edgardo and a very good Marco di Felice as Enrico made this a lovely afternoon. The cast was completed by Alessandro Scotto di Luzio as Arturo, Sim Insung as Raimondo, Elisa Balbo as Alisa and Francesco Pittari as Normanno.

 

cosi1A quite boring night in Gent with Cosi fan tutte followed in January. Musically not very convincing. A very good Dorabella and Guglielmo (Maria Kataeva and Riccardo Novaro), an acceptable Fiordiligi and Despina (Christina Pasaroiu Aylin Sezer) an inadequate Don Alfonso and Ferrando (Umberto Chiummo and Sebastien Droy) and a drab conductor (Jan Schweiger) make this evening rather easy to forget. Was it not for the director… Guy Joosten spoiled yet another Mozart opera. I am totally in the dark when it comes to understand what this amateur is trying to tell us in Mozart (or in any opera for that matter). The scenes are filled with slapstick and inconsistent ideas that could be used (and be equally out of place) in any other opera. Joosten hits the bottom when he made Despina awaken the two lovers by hitting them with the Mesmer stone in the groin. No idea what to do with the singers either when they don’t sing except letting them sit or stand still. The set is lovely (the bar/reception of a hotel) though not consistent (“in casa mia” sings Fiordiligi, which is not translated into subtitles. Are they the hotel owners?)

 

In memoriam Bruno Bartoletti

bruno_bartolettiA very late but very necessary memory to one of the great conductors of our time. The first time I came across and learned to appreciate Bruno Bartoletti was in the donizettian Lucia di Lammermoor of 1967 from Japan. Not only because Scotto had a great evening with total control over her voice, not only due to Bergonzi’s excellent interpretation, elegant singing and bone-chilling maledizione (maybe the best “vi disperda” I’ve ever heard) but mainly because of maestro’s Bartoletti’s direction. The accompaniment, the tempi are just perfect and Bartoletti is able, always, to create wonderful atmospheres. And although I always hesitate and alternate between this and the Sills version whenever i feel like listening to Lucia, this one will always remind me of how great a conductor Bartoletti was (together with the Roberto Devereux/Caballé, Raimondi, Venice, 1972)