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Moïse et Pharaon, Rossini
D: Pier Luigi PizziMassimo Gasparòn
C: Giacomo Sagripanti
uno spettacolo che conferma l’alto profilo della rassegna proprio perché interroga questi testi, da intendersi nell’accezione più ampia del termine, fornendone risposte non univoche. La chiave di volta è senz’altro costituita dalla direzione attenta, cali

Uno spettacolo che conferma l’alto profilo della rassegna proprio perché interroga questi testi, da intendersi nell’accezione più ampia del termine, fornendone risposte non univoche. La chiave di volta è senz’altro costituita dalla direzione attenta, calibratissima, lungamente meditata di Giacomo Sagripanti, che parte proprio dalla definizione di ‘oratorio’, scelta in occasione della creazione parigina dell’opera nel corso della Settimana Santa: filiazione, certo, di quella napoletana come ‘azione tragico-sacra’, ma secondo una prospettiva ancora più ampia. Nelle mani del direttore abruzzese, alla guida dell’Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI di straordinaria compattezza e fluidità, Moïse diventa un bassorilievo marmoreo punteggiato dai momenti ‘sublimi’ – per impiegare la terminologia impiegata da Ilaria Narici – in cui figura l’intervento del soprannaturale.

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06 August 2021www.connessiallopera.itConnessi all'Opera
Moïse et Pharaon in Pesaro: the Rossini Opera Festival is back!

The Rossini Opera Festival had planned a new production of Moïse et Pharaon for its 2020 edition, which was disrupted by the pandemic. Instead, it opens this year’s festival. Director Pier Luigi Pizzi had a whole year to rethink his staging, which has ended up changing considerably. Scenes are minimalistic and elegant, in pure Pizzi style, Massimo Gasparon's lighting playing a big role in shaping the images. Costumes are colour coded: the Egyptians in blue and purple; the Jews in white and Earth tones. Videos on the back of the stage gave life to the most spectacular events: the plagues of Egypt, the destruction of the great pyramid, and the parting of the Red Sea.

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07 August 2021bachtrack.comLaura Servidei
La Cenerentola, Rossini
D: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
C: Stefano MontanariMichele Spotti
Ein exzellentes Ensemble sorgt für großen Rossini-Genuss

Drei besonders wundervolle Momente schenkt mir diese Aufführung. Den ersten in Person Erwin Schrotts als Alidoro, der Cenerentola motiviert, aufs Fest des Don Ramiro zu gehen. In seiner Arie „Osservate. Silenzio. Abiti, gioie“ (Pass auf. Schweige. Kleidung, Geschmeide) offenbart mir Erwin Schrott seinen geschmeidigen, vollmundigen, kraftvollen Bass. Er singt gefällig, umschmeichelnd und souverän. Der zweite dieser Momente ist ein Stellvertreter für die Raffinesse Rossinis. Für das was mich bei Rossini packt, atemlos macht. Meine Faszination gilt den Ensemblemomenten. Das Finale des ersten Aktes „Mi par d’essere sognando“ (Ich scheine zu träumen) ist großartig! Die Stimmen flirren, flattern durcheinander, sind in einem Moment Teil des großen Ganzen und zugleich?, kurz darauf?, so schnell bin ich nicht in der Lage zu unterscheiden: es ist für mich ein Moment der musikalischen Explosion. Ich gehe darin auf, versinke und genieße. Der wesentliche Teil der Faszination: diese turbulenten Momente werden dann zum Ereignis, wenn jede einzelne Stimme exakt prononciert. Ist das nicht der Fall, fällt die Faszination in sich zusammen. Das ist eine ganz besondere Herausforderung bei Rossini. Die Sänger und Sängerinnen glänzen hier einzeln und in der Abstimmung zueinander meisterhaft. Der heute ausschließlich männlich besetzte Bayerische Staatsopernchor stützt nicht nur diese Szene maßgeblich in Gesang und Spiel.

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21 March 2022klassik-begeistert.deFrank Heublein
Don Giovanni, Mozart
D: Andreas Kriegenburg
C: Omer Meir Wellber
The Semperoper’s Don Giovanni Marred by Seriously Misguided Musical Direction

Busoni, great composer that he was, revered Mozart as greatly as any composer – well, any composer other than Bach, of course. Although Busoni came to Mozart through the nineteenth-century, broadly speaking ‘Romantic’ tradition(s), and although he lauded, in the preface to his own edition, Liszt’s Réminiscences de don Juan for possessing ‘an almost symbolic significance as the highest point of pianism’ (quoted by Charles Rosen), he seems not necessarily to have appreciated the darker side to Mozart as strongly as some of those who came after – above all, Wilhelm Furtwängler, whose recorded performances remain as astounding, as symphonic, as daemonic, as ever. It is a truism, perhaps a cliché, that we all make our own Mozart. Up to a point, that is of course the case, yet that does not make every viewpoint, every experiment, equally worthwhile. Our age, by and large, has not done very well, albeit with noble exceptions. Whereas Dresden did Busoni himself fine service indeed, the previous evening, in his Doktor Faust, this (musically) misconceived Don Giovanni did not, alas, mark anything like its finest hour – mostly on account of the conductor. It has become one of the many clichés to be read in reviews of Don Giovanni performances to call it a director’s graveyard. (Bizarrely, the same seems to have become true of recent stagings of Le nozze di Figaro, a work until recently seemingly imperishable. Così fan tutte rarely does well, either.) Perhaps, but there are certainly exceptions. Most recent of those for me was Stephan Kimmig’s brilliant production for Munich, which I saw last summer. Insofar as one could tell, the fault here did not lie with Andreas Kriegenburg’s production either. It starts promisingly, in a swish fashion or modelling agency, a world of expensive, ruthless vacuity enthroned. (What could be more contemptible than mere ‘fashion’? There are lessons, largely unheeded, for performance there too.) ‘2064 donne’, we read on a wall poster. Such is clearly an environment in which Don Giovanni, aided by Leporello, can have his pick of the depressingly interchangeable ‘girls’. Harald Thor’s set designs and Tanja Hofmann’s costumes work well, adding to what one can discern of the concept. The problem is that it all becomes rather lost. I suspect that tighter revival direction would have made everything much clearer. I do not necessarily mean this as a criticism of the person to whom this was entrusted: there may not have been enough time, enough resources, and so on. As it is, for an alarming amount of the time, the singers seem to have to make their own drama from the designs, and that is more or less it. They generally did pretty well at that, but there is a limit to what can be expected of them, and, modern(ish) look aside, it all comes a little too close to a repertory night in Vienna. That said, there was much to enjoy in a number of the vocal performances. Christoph Pohl’s Giovanni was a serious assumption, whose depth crept up upon us. Equal attention was paid to words and line, as with Evan Hughes’s quicksilver Leporello. The occasional intonational slip aside, Maria Bengtsson’s Donna Anna proved very well focused. A pleasingly ‘big’ sound could be made, although likewise the voice could offer laudable intimacy. Coloratura offered few problems to her; nor did it to Danielle de Niese as Donna Elvira. Likeable artist though she may be, however, an intrinsic thinness to her voice shone through in ‘In quali eccessi, o Numi … Mi tradì’. Might she have been better off as Zerlina? I wondered whether Anke Vondung, who sometimes lacked sparkle in that role, in an admittedly dependable performance, might have better suited to the mezzo part. Martin-Jan Nijhof’s Masetto was likewise dependable enough; perhaps with stronger direction, more might have been made of both peasant characters. Edgaras Montvidas, however, offered a beautifully sung, thoughtfully assertive Don Ottavio. One longed to hear more from him, if not from Michael Eder’s weak Commendatore (strange, given how strongly cast that role tends to be). With the Staatskapelle Dresden on fine form, strings and woodwind equally beguiling, the stage should have been set for a very good evening. And yet… For all the chatter, most of it uninformed, we hear concerning so-called Regietheater, an opera worth its salt – many, indeed a bewildering proportion of those in the benighted repertory, are not – will fail if it is not also a piece of Dirigententheater. What Omer Meir Welber did to Don Giovanni genuinely shocked me, although it angered and, worst of all, bored me still more. I say this not because I am hostile a priori to performances that play with the work concept. Far from it, even in Mozart: one of the most enlightening performances I have seen of a ‘version’ of Don Giovanni was heavily cut and reversed the genders of all but the (anti-)hero himself. To mess about, glibly, crassly with the score to no apparent end other than to massage the ego of the conductor is, however, something upon which it is difficult to look with anything other than horror. The Overture should have alerted me, but conductors sometimes do strange things there, taking it as ‘their’ moment. Regrettable though the new alla breve orthodoxy for the opening may be – there are good reasons to follow the practice, but mere fashion is not one of them – one can live with it. A Rossini-like breakneck speed to what followed was more disturbing. The sudden appearance, and disappearance after a few bars, of a harpsichord bewildered. Not half as much, though, as did the turn at the end towards what has long been known, somewhat problematically, as its ‘concert ending’, which may – or may not – have been written for Vienna. One can only wish that it had not, for it remains unconvincing in the extreme, whatever view one takes of where the ‘alternative conclusion’ should start. (If one wants a concert ending, one is better off with the serviceable, if uninspired, solution offered in most recordings – and concert performances.) There was worse to come, though, much worse. Exhibitionistic continuo playing is another curse of our age, it seems, but I have never heard anything quite on this level, before. Quite why we had harpsichord and what sounded like (I presume it was a trick of the acoustic, but who knows?) some sort of amplified early-ish, but not that early piano, I have no idea. There did not seem to be any obvious, or even elusive, point being made, and the lion’s share was reserved for the latter. Not being able to see the pit, it took me a while to realise that it was Welber playing whatever that strange-sounding instrument may have been. Whereas some more interventionist accounts seem to offer a commentary on the action – one can argue about whether that is what a continuo player ought to be doing, but that is another matter – this seemed to be simply a case of ‘look at me’, or rather ‘listen to me’. One tires quickly of formulaic figures, but they would have been preferable to the lounge pianist meandering we heard here, replete with all manner of very strange harmonies, endless sequences of Scotch snaps, keyboard crashes and clashes, changes of metre, and so on and so on. (It was the sort of thing that certain undergraduates find hilarious after a few bottles of wine, whilst everyone else looks on, baffled and not a little irritated.) One recitative, at least, seemed to end in entirely the wrong key, rendering its non-transition to the ensuing aria both painful and inexplicable. A mismatch of tuning between the instrument and orchestra did not help, either. That, however, was almost as nothing, compared with Welber’s tampering – again, to no discernible end – with the orchestral score. This was not some Mahlerian retouching, nor indeed was it something more artistically adventurous. It sounded utterly arbitrary, and involved the apparent deletion – to begin with, I thought it must be a matter of strange balance, but then realised better, or worse – of certain lines, leaving either nothing, or an opportunity for one of the continuo instruments to play instead. The orchestral introduction to one second-act aria – I cannot remember which: perhaps a blessing… – was removed entirely, the music played instead by the harpsichord. In another number, during the first act, the other continuo instrument loudly banged out the orchestral line an octave higher, doing its best to obliterate the orchestra. Another orchestral ending was close to drowned out by crashing, clashing keyboard chords. Unmotivated tempo variations – sometimes quite at odds with what was being sung onstage – only compounded the mess. When Welber settled down, he seemed perfectly capable of delivering a reasonable enough performance; the problem was that he rarely did. The unholy conflation we generally endure of Prague and Vienna versions is perfectly understandable as a sop to singers, and their fans, although it remains dramatically quite unjustifiable. One might make a case, if one were so minded, for Vienna, if only out of difference, but frankly, it would be misguided at best. Nevertheless, that was pretty much what we heard here – with the important proviso, rarely heard, that there is much we simply do not know about Mozart’s Vienna performances, and we should almost certainly do better to speak about them in the plural. It was mildly interesting to hear the duet for Zerlina and Leporello: the first time, I think, that I have done so in the theatre. It is unworthy of Mozart, though, especially unworthy of the Mozart of Don Giovanni; it might perhaps be rescued by imaginative staging – the libretto surely cries out for something truly sado-masochistic – but such was not the case here. Given the ‘liberties’ taken elsewhere, it was difficult not to feel sorry for Montvidas, losing Ottavio’s second-act aria. In context, though, anything that would hasten the end was no bad thing. Except, of course, the end did not come. The increasingly fashionable practice – it should be stressed that we do not know that Mozart did this, and/or how often he did so, in Vienna, and people should stop claiming that we do – of omitting the scena ultima was practised here, and so the work, such as it remained, simply stopped rather than closed. The proto-Brechtian alienation effect of the ‘moral’ was thus entirely lost, as in Claus Guth’s over-praised production (Salzburg, La Scala, Berlin), in which the uncomprehending director arrogantly accused Mozart of having bowed to convention. Let me put it this way: if you want to do what Mahler did, you really need to be of Mahler’s stature. I shall close with words from Julian Rushton’s review, in Eighteenth-Century Music, of Ian Woodfield’s book on the Vienna Don Giovanni: ‘Some versions of Don Giovanni acted in the composer’s and librettist’s lifetimes were outside their control (most obviously the singspiel versions), and knowledge of these richly informs reception history. Probably undertaken with no intention to slight the original, they document what seemed theatrically presentable in an irrecoverable time and place; this does not afford them status as a template for later interpretations. The modern theatre is not the eighteenth-century theatre; layers of meaning have accumulated that require access to a text we can ascribe to definite, even if multiple, authorship. … Woodfield … points to the irony of performances today going ‘authentic’ just as ‘the academy’ is beginning to take a more flexible view of such texts. We are indebted to him for presenting the ingredients that make up the early forms of Don Giovanni but we should not regard it as intrinsically wrong to adopt a version of nearly identifiable authorship rather than remixing the Don Giovanni soup for every modern production; we can safely leave that to the stage director.’ That seems about right – or does it? Is it a little too prescriptive? In theory, perhaps; in practice, when one suffers – well, you know the rest… At any rate, let us not disdain a thoughtfulness, a respect for Mozart and Da Ponte, that goes beyond a juvenile ‘look at or ‘listen to’ me. Two great Mozart conductors, duly honoured in the Semperoper foyers, would surely have nodded wise assent. Colin Davis and Karl Böhm, however, realised that it was ‘not all about them’.

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24 March 2017seenandheard-international.comMark Berry
La Cenerentola, Rossini
D: Sven-Eric Bechtolf
C: Gianluca Capuano
WIEN / Staatsoper: LA CENERENTOLA von Gioachino Rossini - 48. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

Ein Märchen als Traum? Warum nicht. Sven Eric Bechtolfs in den 50er Jahren im Minikönigreich Il Sogno (Der Traum) angesiedelte Inszenierung der Rossini-Oper ist zunächst vor allem eines: grell-bunt und schrill, kann aber immer wieder mit humorvollen Gags aufwarten, die das Publikum überraschen und zum Lachen reizen. Vor allem aber steht sie nie der simplen, dennoch durchaus effektvollen Handlung im Wege. Bechtolfs Personenführung ist immer nachvollziehbar und bietet den handelnden Akteuren genügend Spielraum zur Entfaltung ihrer stimmlichen und darstellerischen Fähigkeiten. Und diese sind in diesem Dramma giocoso – eigentlich eine Opera semiseria und ein Juwel des Belcanto – besonders gefragt. Eines gleich vorweg: Diese Aufführung in dieser Besetzung gibt keinerlei Anlass zur Klage!

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13 January 2022onlinemerker.comManfred A. Schmid
Anna Bolena, Donizetti
D: Eric Génovèse
C: Giacomo Sagripanti
WIEN / Staatsoper: ANNA BOLENA von Gaetano Donizetti – Wiederaufnahme

Die Koloraturen in der Kavatine „Come, innocente giovane“ gelingen perfekt, ihr für den Belcanto so prägende mezza di voce, das An- und Abschwellen der Stimme, ist ein Genuss. Es sind tatsächlich die lyrischen, leisen Momente, die zarten Zwischentöne im Auf- und Ab ihres Seelenlebens, die einen am stärksten in ihren Bann zieht. Wenn Annas Lage ausweglos wird und sie zwischen zwei verlorenen Lieben zerrissen und aufgerieben wird, rücken dramatische Elemente in den Vordergrund. Erschütternde Spitzentöne, vokal makellos dargeboten, cantabile und stets auf Fassung und Würde bis in den Tod bedacht.

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12 February 2022onlinemerker.comManfred A. Schmid
Diana Damrau triumphiert als Anna Bolena

Für Diana Damrau an sich kein Problem, sie kann gestalten und weiß ihre Figuren zu präsentieren. Am Samstag agierte die deutsche Sopranistin von Beginn an sängerisch ausgezeichnet. Bis hin zur Wahnsinnsszene am Schluss wusste sie ihre Kraft einzuteilen, beherrschte ihr edles Material in allen Lagen.

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14 February 2022www.wienerzeitung.atMarion Eigl
Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart
D: David McVicar
C: Christopher Willis
Le nozze di Figaro (Royal Opera House)

Anita Hartig and Ellie Dehn share similar voice types, which makes their fourth-act shenanigans when Susanna and the Countess swap identities more convincing than usual. Each has a feather-light timbre – indeed, there were moments in "Dove sono" when Dehn's could have done with guy ropes to weigh it down – and they bring such airiness to their big duet, "Sull'aria", that they all but waft away on the breeze. The scene stealer in this revival is Heather Engebretson as Barbarina, who peeps in like a schoolgirl then pipes up like a diva. The young American is a name to watch and a perfect partner for Kate Lindsey's gangling, hopelessly priapic Cherubino. Of the opera's other comic roles, the great mezzo Ann Murray is on her best vinegary form as Marcellina, but the Bartolo and Basilio of Carlo Lepore and Krystian Adam are a touch under-characterised. Ivor Bolton conducts a ROH Orchestra composed of stay-at-homes from the company's Japanese tour, no doubt bolstered by deps, but the standard is as high as one would expect of a band bearing the house name. Despite some fastish tempo choices, matters are mostly (but not invariably) secure between pit and stage, so Mozart carries the day and bliss is king.

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16 September 2015www.whatsonstage.comMark Valencia
Don Giovanni, Mozart
D: Kasper Holten
C: Constantin Trinks
More dramma than giocoso: Kasper Holten's Don Giovanni returns to Covent Garden

You couldn’t ask for a more cultured pair of voices than our master and servant pairing of Erwin Schrott and Gerald Finley: both have burnished, smooth bass-baritone voices and effortless Mozartian phrasing which meant that, in purely musical terms, listening to them was a delight. However, Schrott’s comic timing seemed off in recitative – the little delays while he tries to remember the name of the woman he’s talking to held for slightly too long, an occasional hesitancy rather than confident gusto. In terms of comedy, Finley’s Leporello is something of a work in progress: in his role debut, the alternation of cringing and deviousness didn’t come across as natural. But these are two great singers and the chemistry between them improved through the course of this performance. Let’s hope that it keeps doing so during the run.In contrast, Adela Zaharia’s Donna Anna and Frédéric Antoun’s Don Ottavio looked completely comfortable in their roles from the moment they arrived on stage. Zaharia was the pick of the singers, with ardent delivery, clear intelligibility and a voice that made you sit up and listen. Antoun’s tenor has a slightly covered timbre but he injected plenty of emotion and played a full part in moving the action along. Nicole Chevalier (like Zaharia, a frequent star at Komische Oper Berlin) sang Donna Elvira with masses of character and total confidence throughout her range. I could have hoped for sharper comedy and some more chemistry between characters. But this is an intelligent staging, vocal performances were excellent throughout and the orchestral playing that kept us completely engaged from start to finish. Even with a half-full Covent Garden, it was good to be back.

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06 July 2021bachtrack.comDavid Karlin
Don Giovanni

The stage is dominated by a disorientating set of doors and panels, populated by ghostly figures, and against which are projected the names of Giovanni’s past conquests, giving an immediate sense of the appalling scale of his activities. Schrott, the only repeat singer from the previous 2019 revival, exudes the dark tone and devilish arrogance that he brought to Covent Garden as Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, yet even he can disappear, wraith-like into this disturbing, hallucinatory and slightly tawdry background. While the Don’s fortunes prosper, we see the steady disintegration of his servant Leporello, brilliantly acted, wonderfully sung by Gerald Finley, coming across like a sad clown who just cannot go on any more. All the principals are high-class, with Zaharia outstanding for impressive strength throughout her range. Her top notes, sung piano in rejecting Don Ottavio’s suit, are exquisite. Markova has an incisive but ingratiating tone, and is a splendid actress, complemented by the fine bass Michael Mofidian as Masetto. Chevalier, after a less impressive start, is in commanding form later, especially in her act 2 scena and aria Mi tradi and the sweet-voiced Frederic Antoun invests the spurned Don Ottavio with a dignity not always found in the role. The orchestra brings out the colours appropriate to the action, but conductor Constantin Trinks occasionally allows its enthusiasm to get the better of the ideal balance with the singers.

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16 July 2021www.britishtheatreguide.infoColin Davison
La Gioconda, Ponchielli
D: Davide Livermore
C: Frédéric Chaslin
La Gioconda in Modena: a popularly acclaimed, small-town grand opera

For no other opera is the gap between scholars and public opinion so wide. Since 1876, when Amilcare Ponchielli’s La Gioconda debuted at La Scala in Milan with a success of unheard-of proportions, every time this drama is set up in some Italian theatre, its popular fortune is renewed. Yet also the diffidence of the musicography in this colourful work, taken from Angelo, tyran de Padoue that Victor Hugo had written forty years before, remains unchanged. Nevertheless, audiences are subjugated by the opulence of the music of this small-town grand opera, which is not devoid of sections of undoubted effect and a wise musical construction. The problem is that in La Gioconda the characters have minimal psychological depth, being more like the representation of extreme feelings rather than credible dramatic characters. <i> The Mona Lisa </i> © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni The Gioconda © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni Only part of the plot of Hugo’s historical drama is respected by the librettist Arrigo Boito, who identified himself as Tobia Gorrio in this work. In his convoluted verses and in Ponchielli’s music the main protagonist is the city of Venice, “great and terrible, full of darkness, where one does not die on the scaffold, but disappears” in the Orphan Canal or in the Dead Canal. Anna Maria Chiuri (Laura) and Francesco Meli (Enzo) © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni Anna Maria Chiuri (Laura) and Francesco Meli (Enzo) © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni A director of La Gioconda today can choose two antithetical approaches for its mise en scène: either a parody of the story by staging “something else” (one wonders what Claus Guth or Krzysztof Warlikowski or even Damiano Michieletto might do with this plot!) or a traditional interpretation, a postcard design of Venice. Federico Bertolani doesn’t choose the first way, but takes into account the increasingly limited theatre budget with a simplified staging purified of tinsel and papier-mâché. Andrea Belli’s scenery tended to hint at rather than to describe the lagoon city: the water element was always present – even if from the stalls the spectators could not notice it, were it not for the light reflections and the splashes. Wooden walkways formed the scenery of Acts 1 and 4. A mast, two sails and ropes were the brigantine on which not only Laura’s perdition took place in Act 2, but also Gioconda’s transformation into a vindictive female. This was not the only conversion: she then became a compassionate woman and finally a martyr. Act 3 was less effective: the Ca’ d’Oro was made up with too many red drapes that conflicted with the ugly, translucent plastic sheeting that elsewhere was effective in hinting at the liquid element of the city. What’s more, forcing Laura to lie a good half hour stretched on her catafalque covered with a red cloth is hardly justifiable from a dramatic point of view. Conductor Daniele Callegari reinstated all the pages of this complex score, even those that are traditionally cut. He delivered an infectious performance, underlining the dark and sombre moments, but also not skimping on the sound volumes when necessary, without ever prevaricating on the singers. Too bad that the three intervals diluted the dramatic tension and made some spectators go home after more than four hours of the performance. The total of 60 minutes of intervals for the changes of an essentially minimalist scenery seemed hardly justified. Saioa Hernández (La Gioconda) and Anna Maria Chiuri (Laura) © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni Saioa Hernández (La Gioconda) and Anna Maria Chiuri (Laura) © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni Gioconda has three climaxes in the opera: the duet with the rival Laura, the moment of the excruciating “Suicidio!” and the final scene. In all three Saioa Hernández showed great temperament and vocal technique along with a particular, powerful timbre that makes her suitable for this repertoire. The other highlight of the evening was the character of Enzo Grimaldo, here sung by Francesco Meli whose characteristic commitment was appreciated by the audience, which responded with thunderous applause. Great experience and temperament are Anna Maria Chiuri’s talents and, despite some harshness in the low register, she effectively portrayed a tortured Laura. Giacomo Prestia’s performance as Alvise Badoero was generous , even if his bass is a bit worn. After his treacherous Giovanni in Marco Tutino’s Two Women, Sebastian Catana returned to another villain; his Barnaba a sort of Iago whose perfidy here was even stronger. The rest of the supporting singers and the two choirs were equally good. Sebastian Catana (Barnaba) and Francesco Meli (Enzo) © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni Sebastian Catana (Barnaba) and Francesco Meli (Enzo) © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni The choreographer Monica Casadei and the company Artemis effectively performed the famous “Dance of the Hours”, a naive concession to the conventions of the Transalpine grand opera of the time. In the small space between the chorus and the orchestra pit, only six dancers illustrated with apt movements the gears and the hands of a clock in the the galloping and frisky themes of this page, whose character is totally remote from the nocturnal and mysterious atmospheres of the rest of the opera. <i> The Mona Lisa </i> © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni The Gioconda © Rolando Paolo Guerzoni La Gioconda in Modena: an ever popular provincial grand opera For no other work is the gap between the opinions of critics and the public so clear. Since 1876, when Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda was presented at the Scala in Milan with a success of unprecedented proportions, every time this drama is staged in some Italian theater its popular fortune is renewed. But the reserves of the musicography on this strongly colored feuilleton from Angelo, tyran de Padoue that Victor Hugo had written forty years earlier also remain unchanged . The public is however subdued by the opulence of the music of this grand-opera of the province of skilful musical construction which is not lacking in pages of undoubted effect. The fact is that the characters of La Gioconda they have a minimal psychological depth, being more than anything else the representation on stage of extreme feelings rather than characters with credible dramaturgy. Only in part the plot of Hugo's historical drama is respected by the librettist Arrigo Boito, who signed Tobia Gorro here. In his refined verses and in Ponchielli's music the main protagonist is the city of Venice, "great and terrible, full of darkness, where one does not die on the scaffold, but disappears" in Canal Orfano or Canal Morto ... The director of La Giocondatoday he has two antithetical ways of staging before him: either a parody of the story by staging "something else" (who knows what Claus Guth or Krzysztof Warlikowski or Damiano Michieletto would do with it!) or a completely traditional setting with a Venice as a postcard as a scenography. Federico Bertolani does not choose the first way: his is a mise-en-scène in any case simplified and purified of trappings and papier-mâché that takes into account the needs of increasingly limited budgets. In Andrea Belli's scenography, more is hinted than describing the lagoon city with water as an ever-present element, even if the spectators of the stalls hardly notice it were it not for the reflections of light and the splashes. Wooden walkways form the rooms of the first and fourth act; a tree, two sails and ropes form the brig on which Laura's perdition and the transformation of the Mona Lisa into an avenging woman takes place - but it will not be the only conversion: she will then become merciful and finally a martyr. Less effective is the scene of the third act, the interior of the Ca 'd'Oro, made with too many red drapes that contrast with the ugly translucent plastic sheets that in the other acts effectively hint at the liquid element of the city. The fact that Laura is then forced to stay a good half hour lying on her bier covered by a red cloth is hardly justifiable from a dramaturgical point of view. interior of the Ca 'd'Oro, made with too many red drapes that contrast with the ugly translucent plastic sheets that in the other acts effectively hint at the liquid element of the city. The fact that Laura is then forced to stay a good half hour lying on her bier covered by a red cloth is hardly justifiable from a dramaturgical point of view. interior of the Ca 'd'Oro, made with too many red drapes that contrast with the ugly translucent plastic sheets that in the other acts effectively hint at the liquid element of the city. The fact that Laura is then forced to stay a good half hour lying on her bier covered by a red cloth is hardly justifiable from a dramaturgical point of view. The conductor Daniele Callegari restores all the pages of a complex score, even those that are traditionally cut at the second and fourth act, and gives a captivating reading, emphasizes the crepuscular moments, but does not skimp on the sound volumes when necessary, without never overpower the singers, however. Too bad that the three intervals dilute the dramatic tension a lot and make the spectators go home after more than four hours. The total sixty minutes of intervals are not justified for the changes of an essentially minimalist scene. There are three culminating moments in Gioconda's character: the duet with rival Laura, the moment of the excruciating «Suicide!» and the final scene. In all three Saioa Hernandez showed great temperament and vocal technique together with considerable sound volume and a particular timbre that makes her suitable for this type of repertoire. The other highlight of the evening is the character of Enzo Grimaldo, supported here by Francesco Meli whose usual commitment the audience appreciated with abundant applause. Great experience and temperament are the qualities of Anna Maria Chiuri who, despite some harshness in the low register, effectively outlined a suffered Laura. Alvise Badoero's tools by Giacomo Prestia were a little worn, his performance was generous but tired. One more role fromvilain for Sebastian Catana, who after the perfidious Giovanni de La ciociara by Marco Tutino plays the part of Barnaba, a Jago whose perfidy here is even more unreasonable. Good the rest of the supporting actors as well as the choirs. Monica Casadei with the Artemis company has effectively solved the famous “Dance of the Hours”, a naive concession to the needs of the transalpine grand-opera. In the small space between the choir and the orchestral pit the only six dancers illustrated with movements alluding to the movements of gears or those of the hands of a clock, the galop and the lively themes of this page whose character is totally detached from the nocturnal and mysterious atmospheres of the rest of the 'Opera.

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27 March 2018bachtrack.comRenato Verga

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