Archive for the Reviews 2007 Category

Theatre/ Opera Review (LA): Don Giovanni by Mozart at the LA Opera – Dec. 1st 2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on December 2, 2007 by Giorgia

by Robert Machray (Blogcritics Magazine)

«The Los Angeles Opera has brought back its controversial production of Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni. It is the production itself that is controversial – not the singers or the music, but the concept, by Polish theatre and opera director Mariuz Trelinski.

Like most Polish theater the production is rooted in movement, color, and surreal images. I happen to love this kind of concept, though it has its limitations. On the one hand it constantly surprises you with ever-shifting images; on the other it limits the actors’ approach to their characters and the audience’s response to them. Instead of living, breathing villains and protagonists in naturalistic settings, you have characters who are so stylized that you feel alienated from any sort of feeling you might normally have had for the dramatis personae and their situations.

This approach also really puts the focus on the score, as it’s the evening’s only grounding in reality. Once again I loved it. Even Mozart can on occasion bore the average listener, with so much recitative and harpsichord. But because the images were so alive, I was constantly engaged.

The singing was superb. Starring as Don Giovanni was Erwin Schrott, repeating the now famous portrayal that launched his career into super-stardom. He is now considered the definitive Don Giovanni round the globe. His rich baritone voice, sleek sexy figure, basic good looks, and terrific acting are reasons enough to see this production.

Also outstanding was Charles Castronovo as Don Ottavio. His voice was made for Mozart, and his high notes were crystal clear. I also enjoyed Alexanda Deshorties as Donna Anna and Maria Kanyova as the irritating ex-lover Donna Elvira.

I must also mention the choreography, by Emil Wesolwski, another Pole. The scene where Don Giovanni has the Commendatore (Kang-Liang Peng) to dinner, and Don Giovanni’s subsequent descent into Hell, were absolutely riveting.»

“Don Giovanni” seduces with devilish, elegant charm – LA, 27th November 2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on November 28, 2007 by Giorgia

by Madeleine Shaner (Reuters)

«Mozart played dice with his characters in his exalted opera “Don Giovanni,” breaking the rules of theater, morality and custom. The trickster, seducer and rapist never realistically gets his come-uppance because he’s an antihero of such charm and force that he’s irresistible, even to those who have suffered at his hands.

Playing the colorful role is the force of nature himself, Erwin Schrott, who made his L.A. Opera debut in the role in 2003. He’s magnificently devilish, charming and irresistible, so attuned to his reprehensible role that he doesn’t seem like the bad guy at all. Maybe because of its combination of wit, drama, satire, farce, tragedy and some undeniably sublime music, “Don Giovanni” is one of the most comedic, dramatic and entertaining of operas.

Under the direction of Mariusz Trelinski (who directed it here in 2003), it becomes, in perhaps the most suitable way, director’s theater, categorized by the elegant and amusing use of all the elements that go into the makeover of a well-known beauty.

Boris F. Kudlika’s amazing set design, Arkadius’ fantastical, weird and wonderful costumes and Brian Gale’s exquisite lighting all have important roles in the production. It seems all those elements have come out to play. While acknowledging its 17th century origins and huge nod to Expressionism, the Don, as the opera is familiarly referred to, is new again. If the characters have become caricatures, it’s clear that was intentional, and always amusing, though strategic cuts in the second act might avert the lengthy anticlimax.

As Ottavio, Charles Castronovo, a very high tenor, is outstanding in the lovely “Il mio tesoro” as he asks heaven to protect his fiancee, Donna Anna (Alexandra Deshorties), whose father’s death, at the hands of Giovanni, is the tinder that lights the fires of hell under the hellion. Deshorties as the cool, unapproachable beauty has to deal with Mozart’s too-cool arias, unfortunately achieving the pitch but not necessarily the tone of the emotion-driven woman. Kyle Ketelsen, as abused servant/fool Leporello, delivers his role with fine humor. His accounting of his master’s 2,065 conquests, in “Madamina! Il catalogo e questo,” is a highlight of the first act.

Lauren McNeese and James Creswell (as the new bride, Zerlina, and her cuckolded groom, Masetto) cutely represent the economic underclass who are beneath the notice but not the exploitation of the arrogant sexual braggart. McNeese joins Schrott splendidly in the familiar “La ci darem la mano.”

Maria Kanyova is lively as the seduced and abandoned Donna Elvira, who can’t stay away from Giovanni’s fire.

The L.A. Opera Orchestra, under the controlled baton of Hartmut Haenchen, joins the fun onstage but can’t top the extreme visual battery of the overwhelming design, costumes, lighting and inventiveness of the production.»

Una noche apasionada bajo la dirección de Plácido Domingo [concert in Puerto Rico]

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on October 11, 2007 by Giorgia

by Yaisha Vargas (El Vocero de Puerto Rico)

«Plácido Domingo dirigió en cuerpo y alma a la Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico, en su primer encuentro, la noche del martes.

Pero la función ‘‘Una noche de amor y pasión’’ significó mucho más para el tenor español, pues compartió el escenario con sus hijos artísticos: la potente soprano rusa Anna Netrebko y el imponente barítono uruguayo Erwin Schrott.

Al igual que lo ha hecho en innumerables ocasiones con su admirable voz, Domingo conquistó batuta en mano al público puertorriqueño.

En su papel de director, el artista de 66 años no restó nunca protagonismo a los intérpretes vocales, por quienes ha profesado una alta estima y a quien ha ayudado en sus luminosas carreras.

Durante el repertorio en el que predominaron varias de las arias y dúos más conocidos del repertorio operístico, Domingo no dejó una articulación inmóvil en las piezas rápidas y su batuta flotó con sutileza en las melodías suaves.

El varias ocasiones estrechó las manos de los músicos, haciendo gestos de agrado por su interpretación.

Netrebko fue la estrella de la noche. Comenzó enamorando al público con su potente y aguda voz en la segunda pieza, ‘‘Quiero vivir’’, de la ópera ‘‘Romeo y Julieta’’ de Charles Gounod. Pero fueron quizás sus gestos atrevidos, además de su expresión intensa, los que la acercaron más al público, que le respondió constantemente con aplausos y bravos.

En una repetición de ‘‘Meine Litten’’, de la opereta ‘‘Giuditta’’ de Franz Lehár, dejó a la audiencia boquiabierta cuando se quitó los zapatos y danzó la pieza rápida con intensa libertad. Su largo traje violeta alzó vuelo. Se sentó en el borde del escenario con las pantorrillas y los pies desnudos, sonriéndole a las primeras filas. Luego se levantó y corrió por el escenario.Al terminar la pieza, el público enloqueció en aplausos.

Schrott, de 35 años, fue muy aplaudido en ‘‘Deh vieni alla finestra’’ y ‘‘Fin ch’han dal vino’’, ambas de ‘‘Don Giovanni’’ de Mozart, y se llevó aplausos efusivos y varias ovaciones tras interpretar ‘‘Abre los ojos’’ de ‘‘Las bodas de Fígaro’’, del mismo autor.

Exteriorizó con maestría la angustia y rabia del personaje por ‘‘la inconsistencia’’ de las mujeres, y lució lo mejor de su voz de bajo barítono en la canción del torero Escamillo ‘‘Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre’’, de la ópera ‘‘Carmen’’ de Georges Bizet.

Ofreció además una sorpresa inesperada al interpretar los tangos ‘‘Nostalgias’’ y ‘‘Esta tarde gris’’, acompañado por un violonchelo, un violín, un acordeón y un piano. Netrebko, aún descalza, se sentó entre el público para verlo y le aplaudió efusivamente.

El par mostró su apasionada química en el escenario con los duetos ‘‘Quanto amore! Ed io spietata’’, de la ópera ‘‘L’elisir d’amore’’ de Gaetano Donizetti y ‘‘Lippen schweigen’’, de la opereta ‘‘La viuda alegre’’ de Franz Lehár. Dejaron a la audiencia queriendo más.

Como sorpresa final, cantaron ‘‘La ci darem la mano’’, de ‘‘Don Giovanni’’, tras la cual el barítono se llevó a la soprano en brazos, dejando atrás una enardecida audiencia en ovación.»

¡Noche de inmortales! [concert in Puerto Rico]

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on October 11, 2007 by Giorgia

El maestro Plácido Domingo y sus “hijos artísticos”, Anna Netrebko y Erwin Schrott, convirtieron el concierto de anoche en una experiencia memorable para los melómanos que colmaron la Sala de Festivales del CBA Luis A. Ferré.

by Mario Alegre Barrios (El Nuevo Día)

«Hay artistas que trascienden el momento y tan sólo la mención de sus nombres se asocia a la excelencia, a la entrega absoluta y -¿por qué no?- a la inmortalidad.

A esta categoría pertenece sin duda el maestro Plácido Domingo, quien anoche revalidó el entrañable afecto y admiración que le profesa el público puertorriqueño en el marco de la gala Una noche de pasión, celebrada en el Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré, en una producción de Guillermo Martínez para CulturArte.

De la misma manera que lo ha hecho en infinidad de ocasiones con su voz, en esta ocasión el artista español conquistó a la audiencia desde el podio de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico, batuta en mano, acompañando a la espectacular soprano Anna Netrebko y al imponente barítono Erwin Schrott, quienes justificaron no solamente las esplendorosas referencias con las que fueron adoquinados sus debuts en la Isla, sino también la altísima estima que el maestro Domingo profesa por sus voces y el cuidado con el que ha abonado sus respectivas y luminosas carreras.

Con un repertorio en el que predominaron varías de las arias y dúos más conocidos -y hermosos- del repertorio operístico, la velada arrancó de modo eminentemente orquestal con la obertura de Las bodas de Fígaro, de Mozart, para dar paso a intervenciones alternadas en solitario de Netrebko y Schrott: “Je veux vivre”, de Romeo et Juliette; “Deh vieni alla finestra… Fin ch’han dal vino”, de Don Giovanni; “Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta”, de La rondine; otro interludio orquestal con la obertura a Nabucco; “Aprite un po’ quegli occhi”, de Las bodas de Fígaro; “Quando m’en vo”, de La Bohéme, y el dueto “Quanto amore! Ed io spietata”, de Elisir d’Amore. Luego del intermedio la oferta incluyó arias de Norma, Macbeth, Risalka, Carmen y La Wally.

Al cierre de esta edición se esperaba que los cantantes ofrecieran algunos encores para reciprocar el entusiasmo con el que el público abrazó la velada.»

A Sensible, Musical ‘Figaro’

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on October 4, 2007 by Giorgia

by Jay Nordlinger (NY Sun)

«Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” has a large cast, but the most important performer of all is the conductor: He’s the one who drives, controls, and shapes the opera. He is the spirit on which the opera depends (if you leave out Mozart and his librettist, Da Ponte). And in the pit of the Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday night was Philippe Jordan.

A young man from Switzerland, the son of the late, eminent conductor Armin Jordan, he has had success all over the world, notably in Salzburg and New York — and notably in Mozart. He acquitted himself well on Tuesday night.

Although the overture wasn’t the best. It was not fully together, and did not shine in its glory. It was rather perfunctory, dutiful — another day, another dollar. And this eternally thrilling piece deserves better.

The orchestra was guilty of sloppiness all evening long, and often this sloppiness was minor, but annoying. For example, the last notes of “Porgi, amor” weren’t together. An air of uncrispness settled on the whole performance.

But Mr. Jordan knows his Mozart, and he led a sensible, musical “Figaro.” He grasps the composer’s contrasts, and his sense of play. Indeed, he seems to share

that sense. His tempos were never extreme, although, in my judgment, the second half of “Dove sono” was harmfully slow.

And he had many laudable moments, did Mr. Jordan. I’ll give you two: The nervous confusion between Susanna and Cherubino — they’re trying to get out of a jam — was just right. This is in Act II. And, later in that act, during a vocal quartet, Mozart takes a memorable look back at the Baroque: at Bach and Handel. This, Mr. Jordan emphasized beautifully. By the way, those who have conducted “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Met include some of the best Mozart conductors in history: Böhm, Krips, Walter … and Mahler.

The Met was reviving its 1998 production by Jonathan Miller, a superb production — Mozartean and Da Pontean. If you see a production like Salzburg’s, which alters and indeed subverts the story, you appreciate Mr. Miller’s all the more.

Portraying Figaro was the Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott. He is suave and handsome, and so is his singing. His sound has an enviable glow to it. Initially, he had some pitch problems, and, in “Se vuol ballare,” he was far too obvious, blunt: Mozart is subtle but clear. You don’t have to help him out much. Overall, however, Mr. Schrott gave satisfaction.

So did Lisette Oropesa, an American soprano, who portrayed Susanna. She stood in for Isabel Bayrakdarian, who is great with child. Ms. Oropesa has a lovely voice — a voice with some vitality — and she sings naturally. In Act I, her sound did not quite carry, hanging behind. But, in later acts, that sound opened up like a flower. And Ms. Oropesa made an exceptionally smart and savvy Susanna. An experienced and beloved Mozart singer, Hei-Kyung Hong, was the Countess — poised and gracious as always. Some things were more pure than others, but, on balance, the soprano had a good night. Her high notes were wonderfully free. She lost a bit of her sound — sheer volume — at the end of “Dove sono,” but this hardly mattered. The Count was Michele Pertusi, an Italian bass. He was dashing and seigneurial, and, where he needed to be, vocally sensitive. His upper register was a surprise and a delight. Toward the end of the opera, his sound tightened, but he experienced nothing ruinous.

Making her Met debut as Cherubino was Anke Vondung, a German mezzo-soprano. Even when she didn’t sparkle or score, she was competent. Cherubino can be high-testosterone, pantingly male — and Ms. Vondung was more dignified, even subdued. But what she did worked.

A veteran mezzo, Anne Murray, was Marcellina — and she made the absolute most of this role. Ms. Murray sounded and sang great. Also, she acted and looked great. The touch of stringency in her voice was exactly right, for the music and role. It was simply a treat to see this lady on stage.

As Don Bartolo, Maurizio Muraro was rightly and amusingly selfimportant. As Don Basilio, Robin Leggate had a very tough act to follow: This role was recently taken by Michel Sénéchal, a scream, and audience favorite. But Mr. Leggate succeeded on his own terms. And a young soprano, Kathleen Kim, made her Met debut as Barbarina (a traditional and good debut role). She showed the spunk and freshness we want.

A footnote or three, if you will. In its programs, the Met has taken to giving the birthplaces of the singers, rather than their proper hometowns, or nationalities. This can be misleading and unhelpful. For example, Anke Vondung was born in Como, Italy — a fabulous place to be born (or simply to be). But Ms. Vondung is German. Isabel Bayrakdarian was born in Lebanon — interesting to know. But she is Armenian-Canadian.

Quite helpful, however, was the fact that the Met went down to one intermission for “Figaro.” This streamlines the evening — which, at more than three and a half hours, is still long enough. On her way out, one lady was heard to say, “It was enjoyable, but just too long.” Many people have felt that way about Mozart operas, madam, even if they haven’t voiced it.

But I remember the words of Werner Hink, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. In an interview a couple of years ago, he said that he had played “The Marriage of Figaro” over 500 times — and never tired of it, always basked in it. Here we have an example of true Mozart appreciation.»

Even with subs, the Met is Figarollin’

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on October 4, 2007 by Giorgia

by Clive Barnes (NY Post)

«Beneath Mozart’s form and dazzle lies the complexity of flesh and blood and humanity – never more so than in “Le Nozze di Figaro” (“The Marriage of Figaro”), which returned to the Metropolitan Opera Tuesday night with a couple of surprises.

On short notice, the young soprano Lisette Oropesa replaced a pregnant Isabel Bayrakdarian as Figaro’s bride, Susanna, and the earlier announced substitution of Hei-Kyung Hong for the indisposed Dorothea Roschmann as the Countess lent the performance a certain piquancy.

Oropesa, deliciously pert in her acting and extraordinarily vocally assured, was the winner of the 2005 Met Opera National Council Auditions, but the New Orleans soprano appeared in only a couple of small roles last season.

She looks and sounds like a real find.

Hong made a lovely, creamy-voiced Countess. Though the popular South Korean soprano had sung 23 different roles at the Met since her 1984 debut, this was her first Countess, and the Met hadn’t placed her on the roster at all this season.

That seems to have been a real mistake.

Both newcomer and veteran fitted smoothly into the splendid ensemble cast, led by the rising Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott. In his first Met “Figaro,” he was bold, funny, sexy and often vocally a touch naughty, incorporating the odd laugh, sneer or snarl into the musical phrase. All in all, he was terrific.

Michele Pertusi provided a handsome solid Count, and we had two interesting Met debuts, Anke Vondung as a sprightly Cherubino, and Kathleen Kim, sweet in the small, telling role of Barbarina.

Jonathan Miller’s happily conventional, yet heartfelt, staging of this bittersweet comedy of love and marriage has become a little blurred in detail over the years, but Peter J. Davison’s shabbily ornate settings are still just right, and Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan proved brisk and stylishly Mozartean.»

A ‘Figaro’ With Youth, Agility and Eros

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on October 4, 2007 by Giorgia

by Allan Kozinn (NYTimes)

«For a while, the return of Mozart’s “Nozze di Figaro” to the Metropolitan Opera stage promised at least one interesting quirk: Isabel Bayrakdarian was to sing Susanna, Figaro’s bride, though she is very visibly pregnant. A pregnant Susanna being chased by the Count and flirted with by Cherubino would have given the story a different spin.

But it was not to be. Ms. Bayrakdarian withdrew from the production last week, just a few days before the Tuesday opening. The soprano Lisette Oropesa, 24, a winner of the Met’s National Council Auditions in 2005 and currently in the company’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, took over the role. Before Tuesday, she had sung microscopic roles in Met productions of “Idomeneo” and “Suor Angelica.”

Ms. Oropesa’s last-minute elevation turns out to be a more interesting story than a pregnant Susanna. She proved a vocally and physically agile Susanna, with an attractively silky, flexible timbre. Her fine comic instincts and cheerfully bright sound put her in command of the stage during much of the first two acts. But she conveyed emotional depth too, most notably in her moving, dark-hued account of “Deh vieni, non tardar” in the final act.

Putting Ms. Oropesa in a cast that already included Erwin Schrott, a youthful Uruguayan bass, as Figaro, was a smart move: this nine-year-old Jonathan Miller production, now stage-directed by Robin Guarino, has worked best when the casts are not only vocally commanding, but young and trim as well. Mr. Schrott is a natural comedian and has a sonorous voice that served him well in a rambunctious “Se vuol ballare” and later, more seriously, in “Aprite un po’ quegl’occhi.”

Anke Vondung made her house debut as a believably boyish, love-struck Cherubino in the mold of Frederica von Stade’s classic portrayal. Her taut, polished “Non so più” could have been a touch more breathless, but it could hardly be said to have lacked passion. And her “Voi che sapete” was a thing of beauty: it was the only explanation necessary for why Ms. Guarino had Hei-Kyung Hong, the Countess, all but ravishing Cherubino in the moments before the Count’s untimely arrival.

Ms. Hong, long the Met’s utility Countess, has made her character warmer and more vulnerable here than in past appearances, and her “Dove sono” was as wrenching, but also as dignified, as it needs to be. Michele Pertusi’s Count was solid and suitably vexed, if less imperious than some.

The company also cast the smaller roles well. Ann Murray as Marcellina, Maurizio Muraro as Don Bartolo and Robin Leggate as Basilio gave more focused performances than those characters often get. Kathleen Kim rendered Barbarina’s music sweetly, and Bernard Fitch and Patrick Carfizzi made brief comic contributions as Don Curzio and Antonio.

Philippe Jordan’s conducting was energetic and stylish, and the orchestra played at its considerable best.»

El burlador y los burlados – Don Giovanni @ROH, 23 de junio 2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 28, 2007 by Giorgia

by Jorge Binaghi (Operayre)

«A Francesca Zambello, de su lejana y controvertida Lucia en el Met, y de su gran éxito de Guerra y Paz en la Bastilla , parece haberle quedado una especie de ‘horror vacui’ crónico y la idea de que mientras el público vea mucha gente en la escena va a estar contento.

Esa vistosa Macarena a la que el protagonista le pide ayuda en sus empresas amorosas y que preside todo el exterior del primer acto, la orquesta de señoritas con un ligero sabor a Una Eva y dos Adanes pero menos irónica, que aparece puntualmente en el último cuadro del primer acto y en el del final, los acompañantes de Elvira y de Zerlina y Masetto (cuyo ritual parece ser consumar el acto marital en un lecho de paja rodeado de campesinos tras cantar ‘Giovinette che fate all’amore’), los criados de doña Ana, etc…Seguir es cansador, no sirve al lector, no sirve a nada en realidad. Cuando en el segundo acto del muro exterior pasamos al interior, no sé si es para hacer entender que los nobles decadentes sólo cuidaban la apariencia, hay unos muros pobres y maltratados. Muy espectacular la aparición de la estatua del Comendador, con mucho fuego por todos lados (me temo que el gran aplauso del público al caer don Juan en los infiernos se haya debido en parte a esos efectos más que a la soberbia interpretación de Schrott y Hagen en ese momento, y esa es la primera gran objeción que en el fondo me provoca este ‘espectáculo’: que con el pretexto de las técnicas y del ‘arte total’ y no sé cuántas historias, todo queda en el mismo plano y todo termina siendo banalizado).

Ivor Bolton dirige bien. Y punto. Hay tiempos que no son lo que deberían ser, la obertura parece más larga que de costumbre, el aspecto irónico queda subordinado por la sonoridad omnipresente y omnipotente de los metales. En la misma línea, el acompañamiento de ‘Vedrai carino’ es tan poco sensual y brillante como la interpretación de Sarah Fox, otra soprano que da el tono de lo que nos puede esperar dentro de poco: gran corrección y punto: timbre anónimo, italiano más o menos bueno, pulcritud aséptica..y bastante aburrimiento, al menos para mí (salió mejor ‘Vedrai carino’). La presencia de Murray en don Octavio no ayudó: es otro buen elemento,pero que debe resolver algunos problemas de fiato y de legato en un papel que, por suerte, le pide muy poco como actor, pero ya en ‘Dalla sua pace’ hubo algún problema que se agravó, naturalmente, en ‘Il mio tesoro’.

Hagen estuvo muy bien al final, pero menos al principio. No sé, ya que el Comendador es parte tan importante como breve, si eso quiere decir algo más que el hecho normal de que la voz esté más frío al principio de una representación. Rose fue un Masetto que hizo buena pareja con su Zerlina, aunque quiso demostrar que tenía voz (la tiene; aquí no se trata, principalmente, de eso). Martínez fue una Elvira que deja perplejos: por momentos parecía una mezzo, la voz totalmente engolada, poco agudo, poca agilidad; en el segundo acto mejoró por suerte y sobre todo en el aria (los aplausos parecían indicar que uno se encontraba en presencia de Schwarzkopf, pero no es en absoluto así). Ketelsen es simpático y un buen ‘Leporello’ en lo vocal y escénico: hace todo lo que se sabe que va a hacer, y lo hace bien, sin la menor sorpresa, y con una voz muy baritonal (la más baritonal que he escuchado en la parte, y no sé si es exactamente lo que conviene).

La diva del momento, esa que aparece en los programas del teatro anunciando no me acuerdo qué producto de lujo, cantó tras haber cancelado alguna función. Conozco y valoro a Netrebko desde que estaba en las giras del Mariinski y la recuerdo cuando mostraba una voz pura y transparente y un canto ejemplar, y en el Met nadie le hacía especial caso. Ahora constato lo que los discos y demás soportes me indicaban: la voz se ha agrandado, pero ha perdido el timbre cristalino y flexibilidad, y sobre todo ha desarrollado un centro poderoso y un grave excesivo. Eso habría hecho esperar un gran ‘Or sai chi l’onore’, pero no fue así. Con un recitativo lentísimo que desarticuló todo el drama, con agudos calantes al principio y al fina del mismo y del aria, y un fiato más bien corto, hubo que esperar al trío de las máscaras y al aria final (donde exhibió sus mejores cualidades, entre las que no se encuentra el trino, y el pianísimo en agudo del recitativo suena metálico) para intentar comprender en qué reside el fenómeno. Por supuesto es muy bonita, joven y buena actriz y muy simpática.

Schrott se ha prácticamente apropiado del protagonista en Europa y va camino de hacerlo en Estados Unidos. La voz está cada vez más bella y potente (la escena con el Comendador y en el cementerio –convertido en especie de iglesia por Zambello, con muchos figurantes- lo ponen de relieve), dice los recitativos menos hablados –como era antes su tendencia- exhibe en la serenata y en otros momentos del segundo acto medias voces seductoras y trata de seguir buscando nuevos matices en el personaje. Algo extraordinario y que merece el aplauso, pero con una salvaguardia: no extralimitarse. Y eso es lo que creo que pasó en buena parte de los recitativos por exceso de silencios ‘intencionales’, por una constante búsqueda de complicidad con el público –que estaba encantado- y una ruptura de la realidad escénica (se subió a un palco para declamar ‘le donne poi che calcolar non sanno’, lo interrumpió ante las carcajadas del respetable, y lo retomó) a base de algunos gestos extraños que hacen aparecer al noble como un jovencito que va hacia un lado u otro dejándose llevar y casi en compinche de su servidor. Pero don Giovanni es un noble de rancio abolengo y no le sientan gruñidos y rugidos. El que burla es él; los burlados son los otros (y en esta puesta, en la que aparece casi desnudo en el Infierno con una joven en brazos más, pese a la moraleja). Y así, en ‘Là ci darem la mano’, que sigue siendo el fragmento que más se le resiste –creo que por exceso de vitalidad- no logró hacer los pianísimos (la seducción de un noble) que menos de una hora después haría tan bien en el otro intento frustrado de seducción. Nuestro querido vecino de la otra orilla es lo que se suele llamar un ‘animal de teatro’ y es difícil que haga dos funciones iguales. Esta vez me pareció, en conjunto, más desequilibrado el resultado que otras, lo que no deja de ser paradójico si se piensa que vocalmente quizás haya sido de las mejores (la ‘Serenata’ fue la mejor que le recuerdo) y que en dos años y pico lo he visto en cinco puestas diferentes (sin contar su ‘Leporello’ en Viena, que es otro papel que debería interpretar más a menudo). Pero, si bien se mira, a excepción de él y de algún momento de Netrebko, no era esta una función como para echar las campanas al vuelo.»

A Blazing Don Giovanni at Covent Garden – 25-06-2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 26, 2007 by Giorgia

by Matthew Westphal and Matt Blank (PlaybillArts)

«Writing from London in The New York Times last week, chief music critic Anthony Tommasini observed that the Royal Opera’s current run of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in a “grippingly spare and psychologically probing 2002 staging by the director Francesca Zambello,” is “especially suited to big-screen close-ups thanks to an exceptionally attractive and involving cast.”

Heading that cast, and eliciting raves (of more than one sort) from audiences and critics alike, is Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott, “who gives,” according to Tim Ashley in The Guardian, “what is probably the most completely realized performance of the title role you are ever likely to see.”

Tommasini described him as “riveting [and] … seductively handsome … [with] a strong, dusky voice and chiseled physique. Exuding charisma, he galvanized the audience with his unabashedly narcissistic portrayal.”

As it happens, Schrott played Leporello in this very production (opposite Gerald Finley as Giovanni) for his Covent Garden debut in 2003. This time around, his Leporello is bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen — “almost, but not quite, Schrott’s Doppelgänger,” wrote Ashley, “eye[ing] both his master’s body and conquests with embittered envy.”

The biggest name in the cast is Anna Netrebko as Donna Anna, a role she played opposite Schrott in the Met’s 2006 tour of Japan. She missed the first two performances due to a throat infection; filling in, to considerable acclaim, was Marina Poplavskaya, one of the emerging stars of the ROH’s Jette Parker Young Artists Program. Netrebko is now back onstage, scheduled for three of the remaining four performances, with Poplavskaya taking closing night.

Soprano Ana María Martínez “gave a vocally agile and emotionally fraught portrayal of Donna Elvira” (Tommasini). Tenor Michael Schade’s Don Ottavio was “a rationalist prig down to his fingertips … hopelessly oblivious to the Don’s impact on everything around him” (Ashley). Soprano Sarah Fox and bass Matthew Rose also attracted praise as Zerina and Masetto. Robert Murray is alternating as Ottavio in some performances, while basses Robert Lloyd and Reinhard Hagen are sharing the role of the Commendatore.

Conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House is Ivor Bolton; for the final two dates, David Syrus takes over the baton.»

Un Don Giovanni chiamato desiderio – ROH, 17-06-2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 21, 2007 by Giorgia

by Ilaria Bellini (Teatro.org)

«L’allestimento in scena al Covent Garden fu creato nel 2002 da Francesca Zambello, ora ripreso da Duncan Macfarland, è uno spettacolo di forte impatto visivo, molto curato dal punto di vista estetico, ma senza pretese concettuali, che prende le distanze da ogni speculazione filsofico-metafisica intorno al mito di Don Giovanni per farne solo un irresistibile e narcisistico seduttore. Mancando un’idea registica forte, il successo della produzione sta nelle doti attoriali e nella personale inventiva dei protagonisti, che “si fanno regia”.

La scena di Maria Björnson è costituita da un parallelepipedo curvo semovente dalla parete grigliata, effetto vetro-cemento, che lascia trasparire nuvole di fumo o ecclesiastico incenso, su cui troneggia una statua di Madonna. Sulla parete sono disseminate croci, ulteriore monito religioso e prefigurazione della morte e che divengono, in modo dissacrante, funzionali al movimento scenico, in quanto Don Giovanni vi si arrampica per fuggire o sedurre. La parte superiore si apre per creare uno squarcio visivo, uno spaccato in cui vengono inquadrate le scene clou: la seduzione di Donna Anna in camicia da notte, Donna Anna da sola in preda al tormento e da cui si intravede, senza comprenderne la forma, un’inquietante scultura metallica ondeggiante, la statua del commendatore che sarà visibile solo alla fine, una grande mano con un indice –revolver puntato, il giudizio finale. La parete ruota e sul lato concavo appare il trompe l’oeil di una sontuosa e coloratissima sala da feste, che nella stretta del finale del primo atto si piegherà parzialmente su se stessa per “stringere” simbolicamente Don Giovanni. Nella scena del banchetto Don Giovanni si aggira a torso nudo, trasudando lussuria e versandosi il vino sul petto fra fumi licenziosi e rossi cubi, da cui poi usciranno il Commendatore e gigantesche fiammate pirotecniche, un inferno reale, suggestivo e crepitante. Scende un bianco velo e in una luce abbacinante tutti, vestiti di bianco, intonano giudiziosamente il finale.

Ma l’opera non finisce qui.. all’interno di un cubo rosso si vede, ed è solo un flash, Don Giovanni nudo che ghermisce una fanciulla: è questo il vero finale, non la falsa morale del sestetto, Don Giovanni vive! Seduttore anche all’inferno!

Erwin Schrott è uno specialista del ruolo e, dopo il Don Giovanni violento di Genova, quello solo e senza cuore di Napoli, quello settecentesco libertino di Valencia, ha offerto una nuova e riuscita variazione sul tema. Qui è il dandy lascivo con sprazzi di aristocratica stizza, inizialmente elegante e raffinato, very british, poi sempre più sensuale, lussurioso, febbrile, maledetto, che affronta la morte per sfida con un sorriso sulle labbra. La voce è splendida: brunita, vellutata, profonda, così potente da sovrastare il fragore dell’inferno, da far esplodere tutta l’ energia vitale e la violenza repressa di “Fin ch’han del vino “ cantata dentro un’angusta scala a chiocciola. Si avverte una maturità raggiunta nei recitativi, nelle mezzevoci, nei passaggi dai pianissimi al forte, eseguiti alla perfezione e con grande disinvoltura: tutto ciò contribuisce a creare un personaggio che si insinua con tutti i mezzi, voce, ironia, naturalezza e da cui tutti vorremmo essere sedotti.. Schrott gioca con le parole, allunga le consonanti, il buongiorrrrno ai contadini suona irriverente, “ ti voglio ssss …sposare “ dice a Zerlina .. trepidazione o sibilo di serpente? Ma Schrott se lo può permettere in quanto domina il ruolo, la voce, i tempi teatrali. Un Don Giovanni atletico e vitale, che canta la “statica” serenata in continuo movimento, arrampicandosi sul balcone, saltando giù, negando ogni introspezione e con un tocco di cinismo: di serenate ne canta a migliaia..

Donna Anna è l’unico personaggio predeterminato ad affrontare ad armi pari Don Giovanni e in questo caso Anna Netrebko è l’unica a reggere il confronto/scontro con Don Giovanni/Schrott. La voce è un po’ nasale, ma ci si lascia sedurre e si comprende il suo potere mediatico: finalmente una Donna Anna da sognare, davvero bellissima, dal nobile portamento, con un collo da cigno lievemente reclinato fra seduzione e contrizione, le mani bianche e affusolate che stringono un rosario e che si stagliano sul vestito nero, mani disperate che cercano di trattenere un Don Giovanni in fuga, mani passate sul proprio viso per assaporare l’odore lasciato da Don Giovanni, capaci di passare in modo naturale e repentino dalla autoerotica carezza alla preghiera. Una Donna Anna innamorata. La Netrebko sopperisce alla mancanza di colori con intenso fraseggio, passaggi ben risolti e acuti ineccepibili. E se “ Or sai chi l’onore”, se pur ben eseguito, è lontano da vertici interpretativi, in “ Ah crudele“ la voce acquisisce pathos e intensità di accenti e la strepitosa recitazione, in un lento scivolare a terra appoggiata alla parete, con la grazia di una ballerina o di un fiore, traduce tutti gli affetti ed emozioni espressi dal canto.

Ana Maria Martìnez ha dato un’interpretazione variegata di Donna Elvira, coniugando sense of humour e intensità drammatica, tratteggiando con intelligenza l’evoluzione del personaggio. Sempre più struggente, scarmigliata e disillusa, si aggrappa a una croce intonando “Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata” con grande intensità, privilegiando l’umano rimpianto alla furia vendicatrice. La voce è chiara e ben controllata e i passaggi nel settore acuto risolti con facilità.
Kyle Ketelsen/Leporello è vocalmente cresciuto, la voce è corposa, sicura e ben sostenuta, la dizione è migliorata. Senza grandi guizzi, offre un‘interpretazione divertente, anche se un po’ schematica e prevedibile, risentendo dell’inevitabile confronto con un padrone che non lascia troppo spazio.
Inconsistente, sia a livello vocale che interpretativo, la Zerlina di Sarah Fox, priva di sfumature, di abbandono e della sorridente sensualità di cui la parte è pervasa.
Mathew Rose, robusto di voce e di stazza, è un Masetto rustico, ma riuscito e credibilissimo.
Michael Schade è Don Ottavio, l’amico di famiglia impossibile da amare. Con voce chiara e adatta alla parte (anche se ha perso un po’ di smalto) ha eseguito con gusto e fluidità entrambe le arie.
Il commendatore di Reinhard Hagen è di efficace presenza scenica e con voce adeguatamente profonda e autorevole.

Ivor Bolton ha diretto con stile l’ottima orchestra della Royal Opera House, dando una lettura corretta, ma un po’ generica. I momenti migliori sono stati nell’ouverture dai suoni morbidi e vellutati, a cui il direttore ha conferito belle tinte notturne. Di buon livello la prestazione del Royal Opera Chorus, preparato da Renato Balsadonna.

Grandi applausi per tutti e standing ovation per Erwin Schrott, per la voce, il carisma e – concedetemi – per la bellezza.»

Hey, Giovanni, put a shirt on. You’ll catch cold.

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 18, 2007 by Giorgia

by Anthony Tommasini (New York Times)

«The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden recently broadcast its production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” on outdoor screens around this city, part of the BP Summer Big Screens initiative. The revival of this grippingly spare and psychologically probing 2002 staging by the director Francesca Zambello, shown on Friday evening, was especially suited to big-screen close-ups thanks to an exceptionally attractive and involving cast.

I knew what to expect from the soprano Anna Netrebko’s lushly sung, emotionally vulnerable and glamorous Donna Anna. The surprise was the riveting Giovanni: the seductively handsome young Uruguayan baritone Erwin Schrott, who boasts a strong, dusky voice and chiseled physique. Exuding charisma, he galvanized the audience with his unabashedly narcissistic portrayal. Advance hype, likening him to a young operatic Marlon Brando, made me wary. Vocally, though a fine singer, Mr. Schrott is not the next Sherrill Milnes. But he is certainly a stage animal. Opera houses everywhere will soon be clamoring for him, though he had better pick his roles carefully.

He slipped into the Metropolitan Opera’s roster with a low-profile debut in 2000, singing Colline in “La Bohème.” From all reports his Don Giovanni last summer during the Met’s tour of Japan (with Ms. Netrebko as Donna Anna) was a big success.

It is hard to separate the impact of Mr. Schrott’s portrayal from the context of the production here, with set and costume designs by Maria Bjornson, who died in 2002. The stage is dominated by a large, grim-looking curved wall that on one side resembles a timeless Spanish sepulcher of blackish-blue bricks, with a statue of the Virgin Mary perched near the top overlooking the action. The wall rotates to reveal the painted courtly interiors of Giovanni’s palace and other images.

In the first scene the upper wall parts to reveal Mr. Schrott’s Giovanni, dressed as a masked Spanish pirate, his red vest exposing his muscled chest. His arms entrap Ms. Netrebko’s struggling Donna Anna, though with every quiver her weakness for the seducer is palpable, until she allows herself to be kissed passionately. The production suggests that it takes the death of her father, the Commendatore (Reinhard Hagen), in a duel with Giovanni to summon a daughter’s guilt and set Donna Anna on a path, however ambiguous, to punishing the offender.

Ms. Netrebko had missed the first two performances due to illness, and her voice sounded a little hard-pressed and unsteady. But singing with melting poignancy and gleaming power, she was an anguished and riveting Donna Anna.

The bright-voiced soprano Ana María Martínez gave a vocally agile and emotionally fraught portrayal of Donna Elvira, unhinged in her determination to find Giovanni, who had abandoned her, and shame him into loving her. She first appears as a pathetically comic pursuer, riding in a cagelike cart carried by four male servants, a rifle slung on her back, a telescope in her hands.

The appealing and hardy-voiced bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen was an endearing Leporello, though he conveyed that character’s seething class resentments against his boss. The veteran tenor Michael Schade’s Don Ottavio was a well-meaning stuffed shirt.

Though Sarah Fox, a young soprano, had shaky vocal moments as Zerlina, she projected the country gal’s perky sweetness. By the end of this disturbing day Zerlina has learned to appreciate her rustic, barrel-chested, good-hearted Masetto, the sturdy bass Matthew Rose. Ivor Bolton conducted a stylish, supple and tellingly paced performance.

In the final scene Mr. Schrott’s Giovanni showed up for his dinner shirtless, dripping with perspiration and looking crazed, as if he was anticipating his coming demise. He descended to the hellish underworld amid pillars of fire all around him, an image I’ll take home with me from London.»

Don Giovanni – ROH, 13-06-2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 15, 2007 by Giorgia

by Tim Ashley (The Guardian)

«The programme for the Royal Opera’s latest revival of Don Giovanni contains a photo of the young Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Its inclusion tacitly underscores the point that the opera world now has a Brando of its own in the form of Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott, who gives what is probably the most completely realised performance of the title role you are ever likely to see. The final image of Francesca Zambello’s production hints, albeit inauthentically, that the Don’s iconic sexuality has the power to subvert even hell itself, and for once, we are forced to acknowledge the ironic truth of her vision.

Prowling the stage like some feral, sensual animal, and singing with phenomenal grace, Schrott‘s Don is a self-assured, guiltless immoralist who sweeps through the opera like some uncontrollable force of nature, instigating conflicts between desire, morality and reason in everyone he encounters. Kyle Ketelsen’s Leporello – almost, but not quite, Schrott’s doppelganger – eyes both his master’s body and conquests with embittered envy. Sarah Fox’s Zerlina initially can’t wait to get him into bed, but is also the first to understand the potential for catastrophe that his sexuality represents. Elvira (Ana Maria Martinez) is clearly sliding towards derangement, while Anna (Marina Poplavskaya, replacing the indisposed Anna Netrebko) retreats, gradually and majestically, into emotional isolation. Only Michael Schade’s Ottavio – a rationalist prig down to his fingertips – remains hopelessly oblivious to the Don’s impact on everything around him. Crucially, one understands why Anna can never return to him, even though her encounter with the Don has entirely destroyed her universe.

Not all of it works. Zambello’s hi-tech hellfire pyrotechnics are still noisily intrusive, and her relentless deployment of images of Catholic guilt and folksy superstition – to delineate the moral worlds of aristocracy and peasantry, respectively – is excessive. Away from Schrott, there are also musical inequalities. Schade is past his best and Fox sounds tentative. Martinez, on the other hand, manages to make Zambello’s eccentric take on Elvira entirely convincing, while Poplavskaya, who has done nothing finer, immaculately suggests the trauma behind Anna’s hauteur. Ivor Bolton’s conducting is gracious and fiery, if occasionally imprecise when it comes to ensemble. It is ultimately Schrott’s night, though. Go and see him in it – you won’t ever forget him if you do.»

Don Giovanni – ROH, 13th June 2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 14, 2007 by Giorgia

by Hilary Finch (TimesOnline)

«It hasn’t been seen at the Royal Opera for four years, but Francesca Zambello’s stunningly theatrical production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is back, and the flames of Hell are as hot as ever. They will certainly be scorching their way through the live big-screen relay in the Covent Garden piazza tonight and flickering across the skyline as the live public screenings take place from Belfast to Birmingham and Bradford.

Duncan Macfarland, directing this second revival, was to have had the starry soprano Anna Netrebko as his Donna Anna. But she has fallen ill and Marina Poplavskaya, the rising young Russian soprano, suddenly finds herself singing the role earlier and for longer than she had expected. Of all Don Giovanni’s 2,065 victims, Donna Anna is the most enigmatic. Just how far does the Don go with her? Was his murder of her father solely responsible for the extraordinary trauma of her music and the eternal procrastination of her marriage?

The long, long hair of Anna and Elvira; the totemic symbols of female subjugation (spinning wheel, cradle, kettle) held high in the wedding scene; the fact that Zerlina turns the tables on Don Giovanni and invites him to her marriage bed: all of these indicate that this production has Things to Say. But Poplavskaya has thought the role through very much for herself. And although, on the first night, there were moments when her voice was not the totally faithful servant of all she wanted to do, this is an entirely thrilling, even blood-chilling, performance.

After the murder of the Commendatore (Reinhard Hagen), her tresses are bound up. And the stillness of her presence, fused with the exquisitely blended tones and half-tones in her soprano, makes her seem to inhabit another reality. As she recreates the horrors of that dreadful night, there’s a weight of agonised grief in every word.

No other performance carries this much presence, though it’s good to have such an emotionally and vocally substantial Don Ottavio in Michael Schade. As Donna Elvira, Ana MarÍa MartÍnez comes fully armed with pistol and musket – and her soprano gleams at the music’s knife-edge. She’s a splendid foil for Donna Anna, and for Sarah Fox’s feisty and tender Zerlina.

And Don Giovanni himself? Well, you will find it difficult to forget the sinuous virility of Erwin Schrott, the Uruguayan bass. There is deliciously liquid melody within his sensuous singing. Not too much brain at work: he’s raw animal energy, and quite the most louche dissolute. His Leporello, Kyle Ketelsen, offers a witty double act. Only Ivor Bolton, conducting incisively if unyieldingly, seems a little out of it, at times confronted by a maelstrom just outside his control.»

Don Giovanni – ROH, 11-06-2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 13, 2007 by Giorgia

by George Hall (The Stage)

«Neither Maria Bjornson’s designs nor much of Francesca Zambello’s production set the pulses racing, but as spruced up by revival director Duncan Macfarland this Don Giovanni packs one helluva punch, much of it provided by Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott in the title role.

Film star looks and a body to match don’t do him any harm at all in this role. But his hedonistic relish as opera’s leading sexual obsessive, combined with the imagination and colour of his singing, make him its outstanding exponent today.

He’s surrounded by a strong cast. Kyle Ketelsen seconds him admirably as a lowlife Leporello and their duo-scenes are impeccable.

Marina Poplavskaya stands in early as Donna Anna due to Anna Netrebko’s illness. Much of her singing is superb, though there’s the odd tentative moment. She’s well partnered by Michael Schade’s finely vocalised Don Ottavio, and if his character remains a stick that’s presumably intended.

Ana Maria Martinez returns to Donna Elvira, and delivers the role with more aplomb than before. The peasant couple – Sarah Fox’s Zerlina and Matthew Rose’s Masetto – are excellent, with Rose in particular making his mark. Reinhard Hagen’s Commendatore sounds a little out of sorts.

In one of his infrequent Royal Opera appearances, conductor Ivor Bolton balances the score immaculately though it could do with a little more impetus. But the show will be remembered for Schrott’s unbeatable Don. He’s not to be missed.»

The charmer and the psychopath – Don Giovanni (London, ROH, 11-06-2007)

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 13, 2007 by Giorgia

by Rupert Christiansen (Telegraph)

«Erwin Schrott is the most sardonic, seductive, witty and mercurial Don Giovanni I have ever seen.

This hugely gifted Uruguayan bass oozes sex appeal, but he doesn’t just preen his good looks and firm pecs – this is a subtle and thoughtful characterisation of an insouciantly self-centred aristocrat, sung with clarity and sensitivity.

His comic timing was immaculate, the champagne aria fizzed, the serenade melted, and he was dragged down to hell with splendid heroic defiance. An enthralling star turn.

The evening’s other big attraction was the over-hyped Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, who cried off sick.

She was replaced as Donna Anna by the Royal Opera’s resident apprentice, Marina Poplavskaya, who gave an intense but wayward and nervous performance – sometimes thrilling, sometimes off-pitch.

Hers is clearly a potentially major talent, but Mozart is not, I think, her bag. I want to hear her sweep through Verdi or Tchaikovsky.

Kyle Ketelsen, a plausible physical double for his master, made a highly sympathetic Leporello, Anna Maria Martinez was a spunky, vibrant Donna Elvira, Michael Schade sang both Ottavio’s arias with great elegance, and for once the oaf Masetto (Matthew Rose, excellent) had the upper hand over his straying Zerlina (Sarah Fox, insipid).

Ivor Bolton, a conductor now much better known in Europe than he is here, returned to Covent Garden after nine years to deliver a half-way authentic reading with plenty of vigour, and Francesca Zambello’s showbizzy production came up looking spruce and lively in Duncan Macfarland’s revival.

One of the better offerings of the Royal Opera’s fluctuating current season.

At the Sage, Gateshead, a leaner, meaner version was directed by a great Don Giovanni of the previous generation, Sir Thomas Allen. Using only the concert platform, simple costuming and some lighting effects, Allen’s lucid, uncluttered staging hit the heart of the matter.

Making a striking debut in the title-role, Christopher Maltman presents a sadistic psychopath of an anti-hero, the polar opposite of Schrott’s charmer. Maltman enunciates the text crisply and sings purposefully. The arias still need a bit of polishing, but all the makings of a distinguished interpretation were in evidence.

He is well supported by Lisa Milne, singing her first Elvira, and an accomplished young cast notable for Kate Valentine’s spirited Anna and Marc Labonnette’s endearing Leporello. Thomas Zehetmair’s taut and forceful conducting of the Northern Sinfonia underpinned a vivid and enjoyable performance which deserved a larger audience.»

Don Giovanni @ Royal Opera House, London

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 12, 2007 by Giorgia

by Simon Thomas (MusicOMH)

«The Royal Opera’s revival of Don Giovanni is a mixed affair, with some fine component parts but a lack of cohesion in the whole.

Conductor Ivor Bolton is a rare visitor to Covent Garden but on this occasion fails to impress. There’s some poor co-ordination between pit and stage and some of the tempi are terribly slow. In particular, “Dalla sua pace” and Don Giovanni’s Serenade are very drawn out, the latter more likely to send the object of the wooer’s attentions to sleep rather than to arouse her.

Individual performances are generally strong though. Erwin Schrott as the Don is every inch the seducer. You can see why women would drop at his feet; he’s virile, handsome and horribly charming. He also sings magnificently, although he tends to throw the recitatives away, missing much of the irony of the part.

Kyle Ketelsen’s Leporello is like a wretched younger brother to his master, giving credibility to his second act impersonation. He finds a certain amount of humour in the role but overall it’s a sombre interpretation.

The big story leading up to this first night was Anna Netrebko’s cancellation due to illness and her replacement by another Russian, Marina Poplavskaya, one of the Jette Parker Young Artists. To be entrusted with the role of Donna Anna (she was already scheduled to sing once and will now also appear on Wednesday for the “Big Screen” performance), she’s clearly held in high regard by the management. The first night audience was certainly impressed by her powerful and expressive soprano and she has a big future in front of her.

The interpretation of Donna Elvira as a gun-slinging harridan is questionable but Ana María Martinez carries it off effectively, with some great coloratura and lovely lower register. Michael Schade brings presence to the often overlooked tenor role, the long-suffering Don Ottavio. His two big arias left something to be desired but his duet with Poplavskaya in the final front-of-curtain scene was as good as any singing all evening.

Francesca Zambello’s production has its strengths. There is a sense from the very beginning that the opera is about the unravelling of Don Giovanni’s life. Abuse comes across strongly as a theme. When Donna Anna unburdens herself to Ottavio about Giovanni’s rape of her, it rings true as something that all too often goes “unconfessed” even today. Masetto (a strong performance from Matthew Rose) is as abusive in his oafish way towards Zerlina as Don Giovanni is in his more elegant and aristocratic manner.

Unfortunately, many of the weaknesses also lie in the direction and in Maria Björnson’s designs which are ugly and uninteresting. The Don’s descent into hell is excitingly staged but much else is dull and indicative of a team lacking in inspiration.

This isn’t a great Don Giovanni and I suspect most people will be going to see one or other of the performers – Netrebko when she’s back or Erwin Schrott in particular. Those who catch Poplavskaya will be seeing a star in the making.

The performance on Wednesday 13 June will be broadcast live on giant screens in the Covent Garden piazza plus locations in other cities around the UK.»

Sexy Don is such a slow mover – Don Giovanni (London, ROH, 11-06-2007)

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on June 12, 2007 by Giorgia

by Fiona Maddocks (thisislondon.co.uk)

«Women beware women. The glamorous Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko, now a top of the world diva league, pulled out of the Royal Opera’s revival of Don Giovanni because of a throat infection.

Her replacement was another Russian, Marina Poplavaskaya, who has all the signs of being an equally huge star.

Tall, blonde and slender with hair down to her waist, this Jette Parker Young Artist has a compelling stage presence and a rich, muscular voice which she projects with no sign of effort.

Only in highest notes was there occasionally a slight silvering of tone.

This was Poplavaskaya’s big break and she dazzled.

She was already due to sing Donna Anna in one performance of Francesca Zambello’s austere staging, with sombre Spanish designs by the late Maria Bjornson and conducted by Ivor Bolton.

Now she will also appear in tomorrow’s BP Big Screen Piazza relay.

Well established in Russia but hardly known here, she has major Tchaikovksy and Verdi roles scheduled with the ROH next season. Take note of the name.

This was a formidable cast all round, with a dream Don Giovanni in Erwin Schrott, the Uruguayan bass who sang Leporello in this production in 2003.

He can do anything with his voice and body -which we saw quite a lot of, and very nice, too -and was ideally paired with Kyle Ketelsen, who himself has sung the title role.

Fittingly, Zambello has master and sidekick looking like twins and even the footmen are Giovanni clones.

Is this a comment on the awful interchangeability of men? Who can say.

Ana Maria Martinez’s desperate Elvira, the wronged woman with all the best music, showed blazing tenacity.

As the young newly weds Masetto and Zerlina, Matthew Rose and Sarah Fox were fiery and argumentative, adding flesh to these sometimes twodimensional roles.

But for all the fine singing, something was awry between stage, pit and podium.

From the start, ensemble was ragged. Recitative was bizarrely stop-start and mannered.

Slow arias, and this opera has a few, seemed all too elastic in length, especially Don Ottavio’s Dalla Sua Pace, which was excruciatingly slow, not saved even by Michael Schade’s elegant delivery.

At times I feared I might expire before the rake himself.

The bright optimism of the D major finale came not a moment too soon.

With a massive injection of speed, all will be well.»

Le nozze di Figaro (Zurich) – Un ultimo giro di giostra

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on April 5, 2007 by Giorgia

by Ilaria Bellini (Teatro.org)

«Il nuovo allestimento delle Nozze di Figaro di Sven –Eric Bechtolf, più che Beaumarchais, riprende il teatro da boulevard, ed è uno spettacolo frizzante e veloce, in cui battute e situazioni si succedono in modo vorticoso. E si ride davvero. E’ una commedia senza malinconia, per evocare, se non la felicità, una delle ultime giornate di gioco prima del buio della catastrofe della storia tedesca recente. Infatti la vicenda è ambientata negli anni Trenta (la datazione e’ riconoscibile negli elementi art déco, nei costumi, ma anche nella recitazione brillante, citazione delle commedie tedesche dell’epoca). Una grande sala luminosa su cui si affacciano delle porte funzionali al continuo andirivieni e una pedana-teatrino sul fondo costituiscono il semplice ed elegante impianto scenico, che con pochi tocchi ricrea gli ambienti del palazzo: scatoloni da trasloco sono il mobilio della giovanecoppia , sofà e vestiti l’alcova della contessa, una platea di poltroncine bianche per il teatrino di corte e la sala delle feste. Nel quarto atto la scena è all’aria aperta, ma priva della componente naturalistica e notturna che permea la partitura mozartiana. Il boschetto della possibile felicità è una giostra d’altri tempi, dai cavallini disposti in circolo intorno a un letto di foglie. Il luogo della promessa amorosa diventa quello della regressione infantile, eden nella memoria, in cui i personaggi giocano a nascondersi, prima dell’ultimo giro di giostra.

In una interpretazione esilarante, ma non esente da forzature, il Conte nobile e orgoglioso diventa un illusionista dilettante e vanesio che si vorrebbe demiurgo e che, alter ego del regista/attore Bechtolf, assume il ruolo di protagonista. E’ il “Magico Conte“, come il gioco da tavolo per bambini che rigira fra le mani con la stessa infantile concupiscenza con cui desidera tutte le donne.

Nessuna lotta di classe: Figaro non combatte una gerarchia, vuole solo affermare il proprio piacere personale, un letto più comodo, in cui accoccolarsi per godere i piaceri della vita. Figaro non è il deus ex machina che regge l’intrigo, ma il ragazzo semplice e un po’ sbruffone in balìa degli eventi. La conflittualità fra Figaro e il Conte si riduce a maschile ripicca e trova la sua apoteosi nella scena finale in cui Figaro, scimmiottando il conte seduttore, replica, in segno di vittoria, un gioco di prestigio. L’aria “non più andrai farfallone amoroso “ non è indirizzata a Cherubino, ma é cantata per il Conte, apparentemente per compiacerlo, in realtà per schernirlo, e il canto si fa azione quando Figaro spinge il bendato Cherubino a mimare un passo di scherma per dare una sciabolata al Conte.

La finzione e il travestimento presenti nell’opera sono ulteriormente moltiplicati: e’ un continuo spogliarsi, travestirsi, trasformarsi, in una girandola giocosa ricca di allusioni sensuali. Susanna spoglia Cherubino e per gioco ne indossa le vesti, per poi doversi rispogliare e rivestire in tutta fretta all’arrivo del Conte (scena peraltro pienamente supportata e giustificata dalla concitazione musicale). La Contessa è personaggio vario e consapevole, donna di mondo che conosce malizie e virtù, che si presta a fare da “spalla” alle gags del marito, di cui è la prima a sorridere con indulgenza e affetto. Suggestivo l’inizio del secondo atto, quando appare ancora addormentata sdraiata sul pavimento in abito da sera accanto a stoviglie in frantumi, come se il sonno fosse sopravvenuto a una lite o a un bicchiere di troppo. Svegliatasi, intona “porgi amore“ accarezzandosi il braccio con un vetro rotto, per ricordare le passate carezze o tagliarsi le vene con un gesto languido che trascolora dalla sensualità alla disperazione.

Il taglio brillante dello spettacolo ha decisamente privilegiato la teatralità e il ritmo narrativo, mettendo in secondo piano la componente lirica e la pura vocalità.

Il Conte di Michael Volle, divertente ed istrionico, subordina il canto alla recitazione. La voce è un po’ ruvida, ma la dizione espressiva e la naturalezza dei parlati ne fanno un personaggio trainante che cattura l’attenzione del pubblico.

Erwin Schrott, se pur indisposto, ha dimostrato ottima padronanza scenica e musicale ed ha restituito il giusto colore alla parte di Figaro, coniugando una bella voce naturale con una linea di canto elegante e controllata. Nell’ultima aria “buia è la notte“ la voce morbida e corposa e l’attenzione alla parola rendono la disillusione intrisa di nostalgia di chi vorrebbe prendere le distanze dal dolore senza riuscirci.

Malin Hartelius, affascinante e credibile Contessa, ha buon fraseggio e canta piuttosto bene, le mancano però la varietà, l’intensità e soprattutto i colori vocali necessari per raggiungere la pienezza emotiva della parte.

Martina Jankova suggerisce le tante sfaccettature di Susanna, spiritosa e volitiva, sensuale e innocente, spontanea e un po’ gelosa .Voce non particolarmente luminosa, ma dall’accento vivace, ha dato prova di buon lirismo vocale nell’aria “deh vieni non tardar”.

Cherubino, banalizzato in pupazzo a molla/bella statuina, non rende i febbrili e inconsapevoli turbamenti dell’eros, Judith Schmidt canta in modo monocorde e il fraseggio non ha sufficiente mobilità e languore.

Di buon livello e caratterizzazione il resto della compagnia. Irène Friedli ha dato una buona interpretazione di Marcellina, divertente ma non caricaturale; vocalmente corretti Carlos Chausson nel ruolo di Bartolo e Martin Zysset nella parte di Basilio, giustamente ridicoli il Don Curzio di Andreas Winkler e Giuseppe Scorsin nella parte di Antonio. Da segnalare l’accattivante Barbarina di Eva Liebau, che oltre alla bella presenza, ha dato mostra di una voce interessante.

L’orchestra dal suono forte e brillante diretta da Franz Welser Möst è efficace nell’evocare la folle giornata e pur nel vortice sonoro riesce ad assecondare le voci. Lamusica scorre fluida e vivace, dà ritmo alle situazioni e trova il giusto respiro teatrale commentando quanto avviene sulla scena. Ma è un commento di superficie, senza traccia della malinconia ineffabile che si nasconde dietro il gioco e il sorriso.

E in queste nozze – commedia la felicità c’è: nei dieci minuti di applausi del pubblico.»

Le nozze di Figaro (Zurich): Ein toller Tag beim Zauberer Almaviva

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on March 14, 2007 by Giorgia

by Oliver Schneider (Wiener Zeitung)

«Bei Nikolaus Harnoncourt und Claus Guth war “Le nozze di Figaro” letzten Sommer alles andere als eine Komödie. Doch auch das Gegenteil lässt sich mit Fug und Recht beweisen, so gehört und gesehen bei Generalmusikdirektor Franz Welser-Möst und Regisseur Sven-Eric Bechtolf.

Quirlig-frisch, mit gehörigem Tempofluss und innerlich geschlossen tönt es aus dem hochgefahrenen Orchestergraben. Welser-Möst lässt das Orchester luftig und nachvollziehbar musizieren und setzt, wo nötig, markante Impulse. Zumindest bis zur Pause ein purer Genuss. Im dritten und vierten Akt trüben das zuweilen zu dominante Orchester und Koordinationsschwierigkeiten den Eindruck.

Wie schon die Wiener “Arabella” hat Bechtolf die Opera buffa in die erste Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts transferiert. Dies ist nachvollziehbar, weil emanzipierte Frauen in dieser Zeit ihre gewitzte Überlegenheit auch realiter öffentlich beweisen durften. Die Glittenbergs haben ihm dafür einmal mehr schicke, helle Interieurs im Art Déco- und Jugendstil und elegante Kostüme geschaffen. Das Ganze ist hübsch anzusehen, ein gewisser Déjà-vu-Effekt bleibt jedoch nicht aus.

Bei Bechtolf spielt “Figaro” wirklich an einem tollen Tag. Standesunterschiede verschwimmen, menschliche Bindungen und Gefühle werden durcheinander gewirbelt, Bedürfnisse treten unverblümt ans Tageslicht.

Mit sprühendem Witz sowie starken, wenn auch zum Teil überbordenden Bildern und reichlich Slapstick-Einlagen erzählt der Regisseur die Geschehnisse neu. So wird der Graf zum Zauberer, der immer wieder sein Können zum Besten gibt. Wenig damenhaft werden die Gräfin und Susanna gar handgreiflich.

Mitunter passiert fast zuviel auf der Bühne. Bechtolf ist aber auch ein Meister der psychologischen Feinzeichnung, wenn das Spiel im vierten Akt aus den Fugen gerät. Doch der Schlusschor verheißt die positive Auflösung. Hier gibt es die Utopie des menschlichen Glücks noch.

Sängerisch gebührt die Krone Martina Janková, die als gewiefte Susanna Witz und Charme versprüht. Mit ihrem betörenden Timbre lässt sie die Rosenarie zum Höhepunkt des Abends werden. Ihr Figaro, Erwin Schrott, ist ein heißblütiger Latinlover, der vor Selbstbewusstsein nur so strotzt. Stimmlich setzt er ganz auf warmen Wohlklang, lässt es aber an Markigkeit fehlen.

Das ist ganz anders bei Michael Volle, der den Schürzenjäger Almaviva als Alter Ego des Regisseurs präsentiert. Malin Hartelius als resolute Gräfin lässt in ihrer Kavatine im zweiten Akt beseelte Piani nicht vermissen und verströmt auch sonst viel Klangschönheit. Und doch wirkt sie stimmlich eine Spur zu distanziert.

Enttäuschend ist nur der Cherubino von Judith Schmid, der Liebling aller Frauen und von Basilio. Zu erwähnen ist noch Eva Liebaus Barbarina, die sich mit ihrer glockenhellen Stimme für größere Aufgaben empfiehlt.»

A S.K y E.S., y viceversa

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on February 13, 2007 by Giorgia

by Jorge Binaghi (Mundoclasico.com) – 19/01/2007

«No conseguir acreditación para una función puede tener su aspecto positivo. Pese a representar a más de un medio (entre ellos éste), tuve que agradecer incluso conseguir una entrada buena a un ‘buen’ precio.

Pero eso lo libera a uno de hacer la crítica, esa situación en la que fatalmente se sienta con la vara de Beckmesser porque eso es lo que se espera, o lo que uno supone que se espera. Le queda, en cambio, la oportunidad de formar parte del ‘gran público’ y procurar disfrutar o divertirse, o cualesquiera de las múltiples causas que hacen que una persona pague -poco o mucho- por ver una ópera. Le queda, peligroso ejercicio al que uno se entrega siempre cuando tiene una cierta edad, la posibilidad de darse cuenta que ha perdido la espontaneidad o la frescura de las primeras veces, aquellas que por eso mismo considera inolvidables o entrañables, y porque, al margen de algunos hechos artísticos mayores indiscutibles, tiene que ver con un momento de juventud en el que se compartían ilusiones y gustos -incluso defendidos con ardor- con personas que han sido importantes en la vida de uno y, por una u otra razón, natural o no, forman parte también del recuerdo.

Con un título tan justamente amado y representado como Le nozze di Figaro, la operación puede ser compleja y riesgosa, aun siendo ‘gran público’…. Recuerdo hace muchos años, cuando yo era aún joven, salir de una Tosca con la sensación de haber visto simultáneamente dos funciones, y la que menos recordaba era la que realmente había presenciado… O aquel señor del Met que salió dando un bufido después del primer acto de Bohème y diciendo casi a los gritos y con la voz rota por la emoción y la indignación “Give me…” (y aquí el lector ponga alguno de los nombres míticos que quiera, sobre todo si los ha visto en la parte).

Como Mozart es más difícil que Puccini aunque se lo suele cantar mejor (o no tan mal), todos los del público tenemos nuestra versión preferida, de disco, video, dvd y algunos conservamos recuerdos imborrables….En lo personal, tengo siempre tres funciones -nunca he visto una totalmente lograda; creo bastante difícil conseguirlo- que me estropean el disfrute, pero no pienso decir cuáles porque no es relevante para lo que sigue.

Cuando uno se pregunta para qué ha pagado una entrada y si no era mejor quedarse con las ganas, e irse a dar una vuelta y cenar algo en una Viena más otoñal que invernal, la situación es personalmente mucho más seria que cuando va ‘de crítico’. Cualesquiera hayan sido los defectos y virtudes de esta representación concreta del 9 de enero, y sin entrar en los mayores o menores méritos de los demás intérpretes que la tuvieron a su cargo, la justificación queda sobradamente dada por ‘Fígaro’ y ‘el Conde Almaviva’. Son muy buenos, excelentes.

No tiene sentido preguntarse si son los mejores que ha visto uno, si son los mejores en absoluto incluyendo versiones conocidas de memoria, o si son simplemente hoy los mejores para las respectivas partes: además de los olvidos o las negligencias culpables, uno puede ignorar la existencia de otros cantantes casi o igualmente valiosos que estos, y por suerte no está de crítico. Incluso puede decirse que en este o en aquel momento, como pasa en las representaciones y en la vida, esos mismos intérpretes podían haber dado algo más o mejor porque se encuentran en condiciones objetivas de hacerlo.

¿Qué es lo que los hace ‘grandes’, ‘importantes’, ‘interesantes’? Hay muchos cantantes con excelente técnica, buena dicción, conocimiento del estilo, presencia natural y desenvoltura escénica. Estos, sin embargo, sorprenden al espectador blasé en que uno se va convirtiendo inevitablemente, con una inflexión, una frase, y a la sorpresa inicial sigue la reflexión admirativa (¿Cómo? Esto nunca había sonado así, y uno, animal de costumbres, se encuentra descolocado, pero no irritado: advierte de inmediato que aquí no hay narcisismo o voluntad snob de ‘sorprender’, que es lo que muchas veces se hace pasar -no sólo en nuestros días- por ‘gran arte’).

Estos señores, que han hecho sus estudios, que han trabajado, que no cantan los roles por primera vez, simplemente no han entrado en la rutina. Ni siquiera en la de lujo de algunos ‘grandes’, que a veces, en su mejor momento, dan (o daban) lo que se les pedía y podían sin preocuparse más. Se advierte que aman su oficio, que sus personajes les interesan, que esa música significa para ellos mucho más que fama y dinero, y que sienten la obligación, porque están capacitados, no sólo de hacerlo lo mejor posible -cosa que ya sería un gran mérito- sino de seguir buceando, investigando en un gesto, una palabra, una agilidad…

Por lo cual, sin ser ninguno de los dos italiano, tienen un italiano irreprensible y clarísimo y saben exactamente qué están diciendo a cada momento. Un Conde neurótico, vanidoso pero en el fondo no mala persona (cuando pide ‘perdono’ al final, uno sabe que Rosina está condenada a dárselo… Lo mismo que uno se ríe de sus desvaríos amorosos en el primer acto), que no sólo canta en todos los momentos en que le corresponde de modo que se advierte que él está ahí, y lo que hace, y piensa, y dice, cuenta y va a pasar. Quien no lo haya visto perderá ese gesto de supremo desdén que es la bofetada retenida cuando, en el tercer acto, Figaro tiene una actitud insolente. Pero, si hubiera una grabación (que no), no se perdería algo más importante: el hecho de que en un recitativo soberbio (‘Hai già vinta la causa?’) soberbiamente interpretado, el momento culminante sea la frase final, que es de lo más convencional que se dice en una ópera cómica (‘il colpo è fatto’), que define perfectamente la psicología del personaje y justifica la subsiguiente y dificilísima aria. Confieso que me quedé boquiabierto (además, por la intensidad y la belleza del sonido, que están para decir algo y no por sí mismos).

Pero resulta que el camarero se las traía también. Desde las ‘medidas’ iniciales (tomadas sobre Susanna) a los juegos con Cherubino en ‘Non più andrai’, o a un “piano piano” en ‘Se vuol ballare’ (tan ‘piano’ que el maestro habría debido escucharlo un poco más), a la desesperación bien real de un enamorado que se cree traicionado y casi literalmente escupe su rencor en ‘Aprite un po’, no sólo hubo un sonido homogéneo, pastoso (‘a la Siepi’, sin ser en absoluto una copia), un fiato controladísimo, sino alguien que es un desclasado (se sabe noble, pero no puede probarlo) y se ha visto obligado a sobrevivir como subordinado de sus pares por origen, que no por inteligencia, a fuerza de intrigas, ingenio y desfachatez -y qué desfachatadas son sus mentiras en el segundo y tercer actos-, cuánto conoce el valor del dinero gracias a la deuda que lo persigue…Y cuando uno no se lo espera, de nuevo, el orgullo y el resentimiento explotan…Si el Conde le quiere dar una bofetada y se reprime es porque sabe -a su pesar- que la insolencia tiene su razón: ‘Perchè no?’ es un pistoletazo, un grito seguido de una afirmación orgullosa “Io non impugno mai quel che non so”.

Sobre la dialéctica del amo y el esclavo, Da Ponte y Mozart eran más claros e intuitivos que Hegel. Y como entre estos dos señores del canto y de la escena parece haber buena química, como puede verse justamente en una reposición de una vieja puesta en escena (todo hay que decirlo, maravillosa en su origen) que en estos casos no suelen ensayarse, habría al menos ya otra posibilidad de combinación explosiva de talento, trabajo e inteligencia, que son, claro ‘Don Giovanni’ y ‘Leporello’. Sin dejar de esperar para un futuro no muy lejano -si no, vaya a saber si podré verlo- que el uno pueda pronto estar en condiciones de afrontar a un ‘Filippo’ para tener enfrente al ya extraordinario ‘Posa’ del otro.

El gran cantante lírico hoy, como el de siempre, es aquél que concita el interés por lo que hace, ya sea nuevo o conocido: cuanto más conocido mejor, porque tiene que asumir la tradición, que debe conocer, al tiempo que hace revivir el interés por un personaje otorgándole un ángulo distinto. A eso va unido el riesgo y la responsabilidad enormes de su magnetismo. No parece por suerte este el caso de que, en virtud de una personalidad de ‘animal escénico’ (lo son, en el mejor sentido del término), haya que ‘pasar por alto’ características vocales ‘peculiares’. O uno que no puede ‘olvidarlas’ nunca no estaría perdiendo el tiempo en escribir esto.

Ah…Il nome ancora? Están en la dedicatoria, que quiere ser simplemente un agradecimiento no sólo por no haber perdido tiempo y dinero, sino por haber vuelto a experimentar la fascinación de Mozart y Da Ponte como la primera vez, mejor que la primera vez. El orden de los factores no altera el producto. Simon Keenlyside y Erwin Schrott, o Erwin Schrott y Simon Keenlyside. As you like it

Hacer Mozart en Viena

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on January 30, 2007 by Giorgia

by Jorge Binaghi (Operaeyre)

«La ópera se representaba no sólo como parte del homenaje a su autor, sino también para permitir, dicen, a Bryn Terfel despedirse del protagonista. Si siempre fue mejor y más creíble como ‘Leporello’, ahora, tras un período en que partituras más duras ocuparon su garganta, el seductor no brilla por apostura o dominio escénico, ni, peor, por su canto: le faltó flexibilidad, no hubo casi media voz y sí algunos molestos altibajos en ataques y en texto (el éxito estaba descontado; se trata de un artista carismático y mediático y lo sabe y lo explota muy bien). Su criado, que últimamente ha sido un excelente ‘don’, dominó en cambio la escena por apariencia, desparpajo, simpatía, y un intenso y parejo color vocal: bravo para Erwin Schrott, que sigue una carrera ascendente y logra lo que pocos: ser tan brillante en servidor que en disoluto aristocrático. El secreto está en un canto siempre noble que, aunque utiliza algunos recursos con los que puede no estarse de acuerdo (véase el final ‘rugido’ de ‘Madamina’…), se mantiene siempre en el alto nivel que Mozart pide.

Ricarda Merbeth llegó muy alto como ‘doña Ana’, pese a una voz no muy atrayente. Cantó con sonoridad los momentos feroces (primera escena y ‘Or sai chi l’onore’, donde por primera vez en un teatro recordé a la Nilsson ) y con apropiadas agilidades y medias voces los otros (el recitativo de ‘Non mi dir’ –italiano aparte- fue memorable y casi di un respingo cuando vi por fin que una voz de esas dimensiones intentaba,y lo lograba en buena medida, el trino en el final del aria). Casi lo mismo, con voz más bella y un canto notable pero con ciertos momentos muy justos, puede decirse del ‘don Octavio’ de Matthew Polenzani, un tenor polifacético y consumado estilista además de actor mesurado y sensible. Alexandra Reinprecht fue una brillante Zerlina, y si no lo fue más se debió justamente a un color más bien opaco en el agudo para una soprano de sus características. Cellia Costea superó impresiones anteriores no demasiado positivas con esta misma ‘doña Elvira’ que, si no se impuso, no desentonó aunque la afinación no sea siempre su fuerte. In-Sung Sim tiene mucha voz y es toda una figura, pero ‘Masetto’ no es exactamente así: cuando lo cantaba Capuccilli,nadie podía decir que el artista sería un gran intérprete de Verdi, ni falta que hacía. Lo más débil fue el ‘Comendador’ de Ain Anger, una voz más bien incolora y con problemas de emisión en la zona aguda. El coro se lució en sus no demasiadas intervenciones. La puesta en escena de Roberto de Simone fue muy oscura e intrascendente, lo que hoy puede llegar a ser una virtud. Peter Schneider dirigió con mucho volumen y empaque, haciendo prevalecer el ‘dramma’ sobre lo ‘giocoso’ y de modo correcto como poco memorable. La orquesta…hay que escuchar a esas cuerdas para darse cuenta de qué poco ha escuchado uno en realidad a una gran orquesta en esta ópera…»

Tot ist er, tot bleibt er – Wiener Staatsoper nimmt Mozarts “Don Giovanni” wieder auf

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on January 30, 2007 by Giorgia

by Christoph Irrgeher (Wiener Zeitung)

«Bräuchten Buddhisten einen Glaubensbeweis, hier fänden sie ihn: In der ewigen Wiederkehr des Wolfgang A. Mozart. Gerade hat man den Jahresjubilar verabschiedet, schon grüßt er wieder: Am 27. Jänner ist sein Geburtstag, die Staatsoper gedenkt. Und bis Mozart am 5. Dezember erneut stirbt, läuft die alljährliche Reinkarnation – rund elf Monate lang.

Dennoch, 2007 bleibt er vielleicht tot. Wiener Staatsoper sei Dank: “Don Giovanni” ist für die Mozart-Tage ans Haus zurückgekehrt – in einer Fasson, die an Leichenschändung grenzt.

Was mit der Inszenierung beginnt: Ein mutmaßlicher Barock-Bob-Marley (Zottelzopf-Träger) betätschelt Frauen so zielstrebig, dass ihn weder deren Camouflage (Plüsch-Yeti-Look) narrt noch ein Papageno frappiert, der offenbar Diener Leporello ausgeschaltet hat. Dass dann noch Uncle Sam hereinschneit, recht mehlig angestaubt: ein Glück. Denn der bugsiert den Lüstling in den Tod. Ende dieses Ausstattungsalbtraums, heftig genug, um den traumatischen Konsum sämtlicher Richard-Chamberlain-Kostümschinken aufzuarbeiten.

Oder das absurde Theater? Verdachtsmomente häufen sich: Masetto, hinter einem zaundürren Busch verborgen, zieht zaghaft sein Messer, macht Anstalten, Giovannis Po zu pieksen, Pause. Giovanni sagt: “Masetto . . . ?” Staatsopernbesucher denkt: Aha.

Was von dieser Malaise unberührt bleibt, letzte Reste musikdramatischer Gravitation zeigen könnte, wird vom Dirigat zersprengt. Peter Schneider, sonst oft verdienstvoll, leitet das Staatsopernorchester mit einer Behäbigkeit, die schon die ahnungsvollen Streichervorhalte der Ouvertüre wie Schmelzkäse zerdehnt. Dissonanzen-Virus

Da köchelt Mozart mit einem Energiepegel, den man allenfalls einem Süppchen auf dem Herd vergönnt. Wer den “Don Giovanni” jedoch so klein hält, mit all seinen Ekstasen, Einbrüchen, all dieser treffsicheren Klangpsychologie, der verstümmelt das Schönste, was die Opernliteratur zu bieten hat.

Und von der Bühne kommt kaum Hilfe. Weil ein Dissonanz-Virus grassiert. Cellia Costea (Elvira) kollabiert in einer Drastik, dass man der Rollendebütantin herzlichst Besserung wünscht. Schrill und schräg leider auch Ricarda Merbeth (Donna Anna), Alexandra Reinprecht (Zerlina) trällert adrett, schert nur selten aus, vielleicht durch all die Wackelkontakte zwischen Bühne und Graben.

Erfreulicher noch die Männerriege: In-Sung Sim (Masetto) und Ain Anger (Komtur) bleiben meist auf Kurs, Matthew Polenzani (Ottavio) hält sich im Hintergrund, Erwin Schrott (Leporello) dafür mit Witz und Stimmfarbe nicht zurück.

Und dann hätten wir noch Stargast Bryn Terfel: Schauspielerisch, soweit Regie-möglich, ein packender Giovanni, auch dank wuchtiger Klangmacht – ein rechter Rokoko-Terminator, der nur manchmal zu sehr dröhnt.

Dass Mozart davon nicht erwacht, ist traurige Gewissheit. Wenn auch nicht im Publikum: Freundlicher Applaus für alle Täter.»

Don Giovanni, Vienna Staatsoper, 22/01/2007

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on January 25, 2007 by Giorgia

by Larry L. Lash (Opera News)

«The Mozart Year ostensibly ended in December 2006, when concert halls and opera houses were flooded with performances of the Requiem, but the Viennese refuse to accept the death of Austria’s favorite son, turning him into a musical zombie. With barely a pause for Fledermaus and New Year’s Concert season, Vienna’s Staatsoper offered the Wiener Mozart-Tage 2007, a series of performances in the same lackluster productions that dribbled off its stages in January 2006.

In Don Giovanni (seen January 22), the virtually indistinguishable voices of Anna (Ricarda Merbeth), Elvira (Cellia Costea, subbing for indisposed Dorothea Röschmann) and Zerlina (the egregiously unqualified Alexandra Reinprecht) semed cut from the same mediocre cloth. Merbeth forced unpleasantly to indicate rage, Costea burbled the fioritura passages, and Reinprecht chirped her notes without charm or sensuality.

Matthew Polenzani showed a formidable technique and some interesting phrasing in his otherwise wooden, dramatically invisible Don Ottavio.

In-Sung Sim was a gruff, adequate Masetto. Ain Anger woofed the role of the Commendatore.

The requirements for a great Giovanni are in a constant state of flux, but here Bryn Terfel let us down. His rich bass-baritone sounded uncharacteristically colorless, dry and underpowered, with a tendency to croon; his phrasing sounded taxed, his characterization flat and distant. Perhaps this masterful interpreter has outgrown the role, or maybe he was just bored by the fashion show that passes for a production.

Director Roberto de Simone and designers Nicola Rubertelli and Zaira de Vincentiis begin the opera in the Elizabethan period and, scene by scene, advance the action until the opera ends somewhere around the beginning of the twentieth century. Giovanni is timeless, a man for all seasons. We get it! But this leaves little for cast members to do except perform a scene, dash offstage for another costume update, and run back on. At the end Giovanni stands in one place and writhes in a red spotlight.

Peter Schneider delivered the opening chords of the overture as short, sharp shocks, but the performance was marred by an inability to keep the singers on the beat (especially Terfel and Merbeth, who seemed perpetually behind or ahead).

As if visiting from another, happier planet, Erwin Schrott‘s gloriously lusty, lewd, Looney Tunes Leporello ranks among the best I have seen. He sang and acted rings around everyone else, showing a gorgeous, dark, versatile bass. Young, hyperkinetic and hunky, he is a boring singer’s nightmare. Give him a ladder in the Act II sextet and watch the five other singers disappear. Give him an orange to play catch with, a glass of wine to sniff or a purloined chicken leg to savor, and you simply cannot take your eyes off him.»

Wiener Staatsoper: Le nozze di Figaro am 7.1.07

Posted in Reviews (all), Reviews 2007 on January 21, 2007 by Giorgia

by Martin Robert Botz (Der neue Merker)

«Neue Besetzungskonstellationen verlocken Interessierte zu Opernbesuchen, auch wenn man ein Werk schon sehr oft erlebt hat. Diesmal begann die Neugierde gleich mit dem Dirigenten PHILIPPE JORDAN. Er hat einen durchaus personalen Zugang zur Mozart-Interpretation: Energie geladen, mit großer Spannung erfüllt, mit Tempo, aber auch animierte Stellen schön ausschwingen lassend. Seine Deutung ist nicht historisierend, wird dem Komponisten aber sehr gerecht. Das Orchester ist unter seiner Leitung stets aufmerksam und konzentriert und erbringt eine ausgezeichnete Leistung.
Die Schar der Sänger in der Reihenfolge des Besetzungszettels: SIMON KEENLYSIDE ist derzeit ein Almaviva erster Güte. Er ist durchaus ein Herrenmensch der Feudalzeit, nur der neue Zeitgeist der Freiheit kommt ihm dazwischen. Sein Singen ist immer kraftvoll und elegant. Den Mozartstil beherrscht er glänzend. Zum großen Bedauern hatte Dorothea Röschmann die ganze Serie abgesagt. Als Trost gab es immerhin als Gräfin besten Ersatz in KRASSIMIRA STOYANOVA, deren Stimme wirklich beseelt klingt und erblüht. Noch stärker als im „Porgi amor“ überzeugte sie im „Dove sono“ in ebenmäßiger Form.
Die mir noch nie untergekommene Jane Archibald hatte gleichfalls alle Vorstellungen abgesagt. So kam LAURA TATULESCU zu ihrer Chance als Susanna. Sie spielt gut und fügt sich bestens ins Ensemble ein. Sie hat einen hübschen, ausgeglichenen Ton in der Stimme, nur anfänglich war sie fast zu üppig im Klang. Insgesamt eine sehr positive Leistung. Ihr Figaro ERWIN SCHROTT stellt einen virilen, selbstbewussten Typ dar, passend zur Rolle etwas plebejisch angehaucht, die kommenden Umstürze voraus nehmend. Seine Stimme passt bestens zur Rolle.
Ein Traum von einem Cherubino ist ELINA GARANCA. Im Legato, der Phrasierung und Klangschönheit ist sie so ziemlich vollendet. Das beweisen beide Arien. Sie spielt die Verwirrung der Gefühle dieses Burschen großartig: die Zappeligkeit, das Gehemmtsein und die Zudringlichkeit.
Man muss es von Zeit zu Zeit wieder erwähnen: in den letzten Jahren sind die so genannten Nebenrollen fast immer sehr gut besetzt (die Erinnerung sagt, dass es durchaus nicht immer so war): DANIELA DENSCHLAG als Marcellina im besten Alter; MICHAEL ROIDER als unverschämter Intrigant (beide aber wie zumeist ohne ihre Arie); COSMIN IFRIM als auffallend schönstimmiger Curzio; AIN ANGER ist ein Bartolo, der sich aufrichtig über seinen wieder gefundenen Sohn freut – ich fand das als sehr netten Einfall, die meisten Bartolos wollen sich ja wegschleichen: EIJIRO KAI war der kraft- und alkoholvolle Gärtner; ILEANA TONCA eine liebe, stimmhübsche Barberina.
Am Ende der Vorstellung gab es großen, einhelligen Beifall und starke Bravos, am meisten für Garanca und Keenlyside; dann für Stoyanova und Schrott. Noch etwas: Es gibt Opernbesucher, die sehr wohl den deutlich erkennbaren Personalstil von Jordan bemerken, und davon sind ganz wenige, die ihn nicht mögen. Diesmal war es ein einziger, der versuchte. Buh zu rufen. Bei einem durchschnittlichen Repertoire-Dirigat wird kaum einer missmutig hinein schreien. Missfallen gibt es hingegen oft (nicht immer) für schlechte Leistungen und gelegentlich auch für sehr gute – hier kommen die Fragen von Geschmack, Gewohnheit, Traditionen und „Lieblingen“ zur Geltung. Jordan wird seinen Weg machen, hoffentlich mit der Staatsoper.»

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