(Previous section here.)
Pushee is the only countertenor in this operation – the role of Tamorlano is sung by mezzo Monica Bacelli, sporting a false mustache. (I guess if you’re a mezzo or an alto, false mustaches are just one of those things you have to get used to. Does anyone know: do false mustaches come in little separate pieces, like one for each side, or is it generally one unit? Or does it depend on the mustache?)
Elisabeth Norberg-Schultz as Astaria was probably one of the weaker links in this. All of Astaria’s arias* seemed to go on for longer than they needed to – there wasn’t enough expression or variation in the singing to make them really interesting. She picked up a little as she went on, though, in the duets with Bajazet and Andronico and also in the “Cor di padre” aria in Act III, which was a little more intense and exciting than anything I had heard from her previously in the performance.
Anna Bonitatibus (Irene) gave an impression of more ease and expressiveness – and besides, there’s something about her voice that I just like. It has weight. I wish this part gave her more to do than scheme a little and lose her riding crop. Finally, the thing about Thomas Randle’s performance as Bajazet that really jumped out at me was how he made this part seem alive – there was a real naturalness to the singing and acting that I liked. However, as a whole, I don’t think this DVD is one to get super-excited about. It’s – well, it’s ok. And the little option where you can have the score of the vocal parts overlaid on the screen is kind of cool. But while I was relieved that the person who broke into my house the other day and stole my computer did not take this DVD, my concern was more of a library fines issue than anything else.
Astaria’s Aria: a children’s book about opera? Or a children’s TV show, with puppets, about opera? Real opera stars could come on as guests.