Liù, Erika Grimaldi, a regular presence in the Teatro Regio's productions, was as diligent as ever but also suffers an unpleasant timbre. Other singers were less than memorable.
In his new staging Stefano Poda – as usual in the joint-role of director, set designer, costume designer, choreographer and lighting designer – follows the traits of his previous work, relying on elegant visualization of a story told in a very personal way. Gozzi's plot, which was already dreamlike by itself, not to say incongruous of a fairy tale, becomes in Poda's hands another thing entireyl, equally inconclusive but with its own internal logic, even if that logic is not always intelligible.
The performance starts, as in Romeo Castellucci's Tannhäuser, with archers shooting arrows whose noise, when they reach the target, is the first sound effect that we hear before the thundering fortissimo of the opera's initial bars. Dazzling white marks the scenery and costumes, with no distinction between the Peking crowds and the courtiers. Even the naked bodies of Turandot's retinue are painted white. The only non-white spots are Calaf's black suit and the red skirt worn by Turandot-Lady Gaga who at the end of the first act kills the Prince of Persia with an arrow... or at least it seems so, because nothing is certain in this staging that often contradicts the story told, as when Liù finally dies but walks away with Calaf's father who, by the way, never seems blind.
Poda crams his vision with many ideas, some indecipherable. The only thing certain is the presence/absence of the title character who we find in the many other similar figures that sing Turandot's own words in playback. “Turandot doesn's exist” is sung at a certain point by Ping, Pang and Pong, and Poda takes them at their word.
Conductor Gianandrea Noseda, working with Gounod’s intimate score for the first time, was magnificent in underlining the arcane and diabolic passages of the score, with the solemnity and the fury of Verdi’s Dies irae, but also in depicting with morbidity and the grace of the brief love idyll between Marguerite and Faust.
Irina Lungu interpreted a fragile and intense Marguerite, thanks to a captivating presence on stage, a fine technique and a crystalline timbre. Charles Castronovo was a vigorous Faust, full of sonority (showing his sinewy chest register from the first scene, when he was supposed to be an old disillusioned doctor). Ildar Abdrazakov was a towering and treacherous Méphistophélès, with a solid voice. The rest of the cast was fine, ranging from the impassioned Valentin of Vasilij Ladjuk to the unexpectedly sensual Marthe of Samantha Korbey.
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