(Previous section here.)
There are of course good arguments to be made for a mezzo rather than a countertenor as Farnace. However, the countertenor they’ve got here, Jochen Kowalski, is very good – his performance, and that of Luba Orgonoasova as Aspasia, were the two that I enjoyed the most.
Here is “Già dagli occhi” from Act III. The makeup and general color scheme make Farnace look a bit like the Joker, but never mind.
And here is Orgonasova singing “Pallid’ombre” from Act III. Aspasia’s love for Sifare has been revealed to Mitridate, who has decided that everyone involved must die. Aspasia is preparing herself to drink the poison that has been sent to her. This was probably my favorite part of the performance, particularly the first section of the aria, up to 4.13 where she turns to take up the poison:
(I don’t know what the rope around the tree is doing there.)
Mitridate in this production was Bruce Ford, who is not a bad actor but I don’t really love his voice – in the passages where there are sudden leaps upward (e.g. in “se di lauri crine adorno” in Act I or “se il rigor d’ingrata sorte” in Act III) he gets there but the sound is not one that I enjoy. Ann Murray is a nice-sounding Sifarne – this is not a performance that will bring the house down in terms of acting, but it’s pleasantly easy on the ears.
So. With this production the concept worked for me, and I enjoyed the performances. I’ve been thinking about this on and off ever since I watched the DVD over the weekend, because I thought I would have more to say than I have said – but while I enjoyed this production it didn’t cause anything to leap to mind immediately in terms of insights. Possibly something will leap to mind over the next few days. But either way, I think the Salzburg production of this opera is next on my list.