Tag: Garanča

Donizetti – Roberto Devereux / Metropolitan Opera 4-16-16

When you are faced with a production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, it is good to keep in mind that yes, it is ridiculous. It is ridiculous on the grand scale – it has the distinction of being (I’m pretty sure) the only story based on the life of the Earl of Essex that includes his execution but does its best to avoid talking much about the abortive rebellion he led in early 1601 that according to most non-Donizetti’s-librettist schools of historical scholarship was the primary reason he was executed. Also it leaves out the part where he tried to shift part of the blame for the rising to his sister Penelope (I am not making this up), which I suspect gives you a sense of why Donizetti’s librettist decided to leave this and many other things out of the libretto.

It is also ridiculous on the small scale – the ending has Elizabeth basically drop dead after she realizes she was wrong to execute Essex. Given that in this version, she has him executed basically because she’s mad at him for loving another woman, I suppose maybe she was embarrassed. You know how sometimes you’ve momentarily wanted to drop dead, when you’ve done something really stupid and everyone in the room knows? Well it may be that if you’re an anointed monarch, you can actually do this. But of course, you can only do it the once.

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Weekend 7-6-14

I spent some of yesterday watching a DVD of Verdi’s Aida, the one from Zurich with Nina Stemme in the title role. I’ve seen this one before, ages ago, and I remembered the split screen video direction (for example, in several scenes, you see say, Amneris in one part of the screen, Aida in another, and a long shot showing the entire stage at the bottom) and the general concept, which places the story in late nineteenth-century Egypt, when the country was occupied by the British.

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Donizetti / Anna Bolena / Wiener Staatsoper 2011

I watched this on a whim after going through the Met’s Maria Stuarda on DVD again. I had only ever heard Anna Bolena in audio form before, an older recording with Beverly Sills and Shirley Verrett in the two main roles (Anna and Giovanna). Anna Netrebko and Beverly Sills are apples and oranges in a lot of ways. Netrebko has a sumptuous voice, but I have never really warmed to her acting – this is weird, but I find I often prefer to listen to her sing rather than watch her because often her face is so oddly immobile. Not all the time, but enough that you just want to ask her to furrow her brow, just a little, to show that she can, you know? Sills, on the other hand, could sound shrill sometimes, especially later in her career, but she inhabited those Donizetti queens. Verrett, too – the scene in Part II when Anna and Giovanna figure out what the score is and Giovanna feels awful and Anna forgives her is dynamite on that old recording. (It’s the one with the London Symphony conducted by Julius Rudel, from 1972).

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Mozart – La Clemenza di Tito / Metropolitan Opera 11-20-12

It was a little strange seeing this production again – I had a very distinct sense of having been in the room before. I had, of course. I saw it back around 2005 or so, and I’ve also seen Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s film of La Clemenza di Tito, to which this production, also designed by Ponnelle, bears a very strong resemblance.

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La Clemenza di Tito / Salzburg 2003 / Kasarova, Röschmann, Schade, et al. (3)

(Previous section here.)

I said earlier that one of the reasons this performance works so well dramatically is that the interpretations of the three central roles fit together so well. We have a mad emperor, a Vitellia who is on the edge of we know not what and/or tearing off her clothes most of the time — and then there is Sesto (Vesselina Kasarova) who seems to be the only sane person in the room.

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