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In the “military” variation, piccolo and other winds were a bit behind the drums, but tenor Ed Lyon sang out crisply and with gusto. In the solo ensembles, soprano Lucy Crowe floated her curly phrases and high notes sweetly, the personification of benevolent Freude, while contralto Jess Dandy added just the right note of creamy richness to the sound. In an inspired move, a trombonist stepped out of the orchestra to join the male choristers, adding Gabriel’s horn to their mighty injunction “Seid umschlungen, Millionen.”
David Wright
On Nov. 16, 2019, the Metropolitan Opera premiered this season’s production of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro.” Amidst the modern set of Richard Eyre’s production, the stellar cast of artists brought no shortage of laughter while delivering a musically splendid performance. Making his conducting debut with the company was Antonello Manacorda who was able to draw much from the music while keeping the energy going strong. Wasting little time, during the overture we see the scantily-clad Count Almaviva, with a maid dressing herself in a hurry on the way out. The stage turns and we see a sort of montage of all the preparations being made for such an eventful day, visually reinforcing the frantic grandeur coming from the orchestra.Thanks to the dramatic and comedic sensibilities of the artists, there was hardly ever a dull moment during the performance as they flirted, fought, schemed, and scurried to stay one step ahead of each other. Recitatives between the musical numbers were handled with a quick, natural speed of delivery that did not let the charge fade before the next one, each building up into the other nicely. In the title role, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni gave a highly dynamic performance; his stalwart vocality flourished through the emotional and dramatic chaos of the opera. We find his Figaro measuring the room for his new bed with his own body as Pisaroni quickly re-arranged himself, before Susanna gets his attention for their bright and charming duettinos. His countenance taking a heavier look as Susanna began to raise her concerns, Pisaroni’s repetition of Susanna’s melody to the line “I’d like to hear the rest… but I’m getting upset,” receiving a firm, drawn-out delivery. While she explained the Count’s intentions towards her, Pisaroni’s Figaro continued to assemble the bed in the middle of the room, ostensibly by ripping entire boards from the set. Though his voice and face conveyed his disbelief with his lord, that he kept at his work showed that it did not give him much pause as he transitioned to a smoldering rendition of his cavatina “Se vuol ballare.” This number was calculating but far from cold as Pisaroni fenced with a cane in hand, armed also with scornful, confident tones. These qualities returned for his Act three aria “Aprite un po’ quegli occhi,” now directed at his seemingly-unfaithful wife. Here the jaded rhythm nicely bolstered Pisaroni’s driving triplet measures as he railed against the fairer sex, shining a flashlight into the audience as he sang the phrase “See them as they are!” Few performers are as funny as Pisaroni, and performances such as Saturday’s serve as solid proof. As Susanna, Nadine Sierra’s velvety, full-bodied soprano saw a wide breadth of expression throughout her extended time on stage. Not long after endearing the audience with her playful opening numbers, Sierra’s duettino with Elizabeth Bishop’s Marcellina, “Via resti servita,” saw the two slinging insults with a fun, sonorous flair. At times at the mercy of the unfolding events, while at others pulling the strings, Sierra’s effervescence lasted with great consistency; these latter moments were highly entertaining, with the occasional excited, mischievous cackle from Sierra to spice up her honeyed lyricism. The Act three sextet “Riconosci in questo aplesso,” was joined by Sierra’s lovely, indignant ornaments as she fumed at Figaro’s seeming betrayal, her ensuing slap coming across strong and clear. Her Act three duettino with Susanna Phillips “Che soave zeffiretto,” saw the two sopranos engage in lovely, conspiratorial harmonies. Her later aria, “Deh vieni, non tardar,” made for a magical number due to Sierra’s enchanting rendition, slowly making her way up the stairs wrapped around the tree in the middle to deliver gorgeous sustained tones.
Logan Martell
Despite a production that looks like a Downton Abbey mash-up, the Metropolitan Opera’s revival of Sir Richard Eyre’s production of Le nozze di Figaro provides an elegant and musically satisfying showcase for Mozart’s genius and the talent of many fine performing artists. The production opened with a matinee and will continue with two separate casts with different conductors through the end of February. Nadine Sierra (Susanna), Adam Plachetka (Count Almaviva) and Susanna Phillips (Countess Almaviva) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera Nadine Sierra (Susanna), Adam Plachetka (Count Almaviva) and Susanna Phillips (Countess Almaviva) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera Set in Seville during the 1920s or 30s, the farcical plot focuses on Count Almaviva’s designs on his servant, Susanna, who is about to marry another servant, Figaro. As shrewd as she is comely, the young woman teams up with the Countess to trap the Count in a comedy of errors. By the end of the tale, the contrite Count returns to his wife, and Figaro and Susanna are wed. The overall feel of this production is somewhat claustrophobic, with an inexplicably towering set rising above the modest dimensions of the Met stage and performers who tend to huddle in small groups. But despite the dark visuals, the music rises as fresh and revitalizing as it must have during its Viennese debut in 1786. Luca Pisaroni (Figaro) and Nadine Sierra (Susanna) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera Luca Pisaroni (Figaro) and Nadine Sierra (Susanna) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera The broad, enthusiastic gestures of conductor Antonello Manacorda, making his Met debut, seemed to draw out the orchestra’s verve and technical excellence, from the opening flutters of the overture to the final burst of euphoric resolution at the end of Act 4. No less impressive was a cast of singers who blended various degrees of expressive musical talent with impressive abilities as actors and, at times, the stamina of athletes. Among these, here was no finer performance in this production than Susanna Phillips as the Countess. In Act 2’s “Porgi, amor”, the mellow richness of her soprano voice communicated a touching despair. Similarly, in Act 3, Phillips not only captured the sweet sadness of the aria, “Dove sono”, but infused her preparatory recitative with heartbreaking delicacy, her voice rising like a bell to a lingering A, then hovering there ever so briefly before gliding into the familiar, anticipated aria. As her husband, the Czech bass-baritone Adam Plachetka presented the lecherous Count as a multi-faceted human being, ranging from a diabolical schemer to a man humbled by a loving wife’s forgiveness. Luca Pisaroni (Figaro) and Gaëlle Arquez (Cherubino) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera Luca Pisaroni (Figaro) and Gaëlle Arquez (Cherubino) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera In her Met debut, Gaëlle Arquez, a French mezzo-soprano, portrayed Cherubino, an adolescent boy in love with love, one of the most popular “trouser roles” in opera literature. Arquez’s Cherubino was flirtatious and nimble, both vocally and physically as her character leapt over furniture, crept under the bed, and scrambled to a high window, dropping into the unseen garden below. Seeing Cherubino in a white Gatsby-style suit, though, was quite a disconnect; there is something indescribably sexy about the traditional Cherubino: a small woman attired in 18th-century male court attire with a powdered wig and a naughty spot of rouge on each cheek. A standout in the secondary role of Dr Bartolo was Brindley Sherratt, a bass from the UK whose richly modulated voice was a delight. Nadine Sierra (Susanna) and Gaëlle Arquez (Cherubino) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera Nadine Sierra (Susanna) and Gaëlle Arquez (Cherubino) © Marty Sohl | Met Opera As Susanna, Nadine Sierra demonstrated tremendous comic timing and a physical agility that couldn’t be matched by the most polished comedienne. I didn’t think her voice was exactly right for the role, perhaps a bit bossy with too bright an edge. However, she excelled in the aria, “Giunse alfin il momento” in Act 4. Luca Pisaroniwas capable as Figaro, but lacking that hint of a roguish personality that enlivens this central character. Elizabeth Bishop’s supple mezzo voice was just right for the spinster, Marcellina, though she was attired in such a way that she was a dead ringer for Mrs McCarthy in the Father Brown TV series. Despite its comic persona, Nozze has moments of sublimity that are universal: the long finale at the end of Act 2 transcends anything in this opera or any other; and the bittersweet words sung in the last moments of Act 4 tell of timeless human yearning for love and peace: “Do let us be happy forever”. To which we can add only, “Amen!”
Linda Holt
Lucy Crowe who had sung so well in the last two acts, seemed to tire right at the very end
Mark Ronan
The soprano with the world in her hands LUCY CROWE is one of today’s leading lyric sopranos. She has a bell-like voice, a fine acting talent and relishes a challenge.
English soprano Lucy Crowe gives a rather divine rendition of “Caro nome,” instantly the affection of the audience on her side. This aria received hearty applause, even though the next scene was clearly ready to proceed.
The Royal Opera has opted for a revival of David McVicar’s brooding 2001 production of Verdi’s Rigoletto for what is effectively its Christmas show: a big, double-cast run that lasts well into the new year. The opening night was dedicated to the memory of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who sang the title role in one of the production’s most memorable and cogent revivals in 2010. This doesn’t have quite the same consistency, despite fine individual achievements. Rigoletto is played by the Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias, imposing on stage, handsome of voice, and deeply touching in his duets with Sofia Fomina’s Gilda, where we get a real sense of Rigoletto’s solicitous affection for his daughter. Nadia Krasteva is the full-on Maddalena, and there’s an excellent Sparafucile from Andrea Mastroni – coolly self-controlled and genuinely sinister. In the pit, Alexander Joel admirably prefers low-key subtlety to melodramatic extremes, though the cumulative tension slips on occasion.
Tim Ashley
The performances are vocally outstanding. American tenor Michael Spyres takes on the name role with aplomb. He has a light tenor voice that is flexible and reaches the high notes with ease. Many of the arias are done at a brisk pace but there some very moving moments. Mitridate has some nasty characteristics but near the end he becomes noble and forgiving and Spyres rises to the occasion with beautiful emotional cadences. This is a five-star Mitridate. Soprano Albina Shagimuratova with her sumptuous voice gives us an Aspasia of vocal splendour. When she sings the recitative “Ah ben ne fui presage” (Ah my foreboding was justified) and the cavatina “Pallid' ombre" (Pale shadows) she reaches an expressive and lyrical majesty that clearly presages “Dove sono.” Soprano Lucy Crowe sang the Princess Ismene. She is given to Mitridate as a slave and she tended to tilt her head to the side and I thought it was an indication of humility and servitude. Her singing and portrayal is highly accomplished. Georgian Soprano Salome Jicia and American countertenor Bejun Mehta sang the sons Sirafe and Farnace, respectively. The boys go through love and hate, treachery and reconciliation without hesitation. That’s their operatic problem as characters but Jicia and Mehta display only vocal flexibility and finesse in their performances. The orchestra of the Royal Opera House was conducted by Christophe Rousset and played with finesse.
james karas
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