Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cosi fan tutte

On Monday evening David and I saw Lyric Opera's production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. The time period, for some reason, was set at the time of World War I, which made the libretto even more confusing than it would normally seem.

The cast was uniformly good but somehow it never excited me. It seemed a bit lack-luster.

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Andrew Stenson as Ferrando has a fine tenor voice and sang with fervor.

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Joshua Hopkins as Guglielmo was good but not exciting.

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Alessandro Corbelli was reliable as Don Alfonso.

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Ana Maria Martinez has a lovely voice with excellent high notes but her low range is lacking substance. Unfortunately, the role of Fiordiligi has a very wide range and the singer needs a strong low voice to bring the best to it. To quote Wickipedia: 'According to William Mann, Mozart disliked prima donna Adriana Ferrarese del Bene, da Ponte's arrogant mistress for whom the role of Fiordiligi had been created. Knowing her idiosyncratic tendency to drop her chin on low notes and throw back her head on high ones, Mozart filled her showpiece aria Come scoglio with constant leaps from low to high and high to low in order to make Ferrarese's head "bob like a chicken" onstage.

Ms Martinez did not 'bob like a chicken', but her low notes were not in balance with her lovely high ones.

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Marianne Crebassa as Dorabella has a beautiful voice and sang very well but sounded too much like Ms Martinez. In their first scene together I had trouble figuring out who was who from the sound of their voices.

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As Despina, Elena Tsallagova was excellent both vocally and dramatically.

The conductor was James Gaffigan, making his debut at the Lyric.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I Puritani

Last night, for my first outing since I returned from Puerto Rico (and the Flu), where I went to recuperate from November's brain surgery (!), David and I went to see I Puritani, Bellini's final opera at Chicago Lyric. It was a splendid production conducted by Enrique Mazzola.

The two super-stars of the evening were Albina Shagimuratova as Elvira and Lawrence Brownlee as Arturo. Both had the vocal chops to sing these difficult roles to a fare-thee-well. 

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Ms Shagimuratova has a beautiful voice, capable to handle the difficult coloratura sections of the role as well as spin a beautiful lyric line. She also can sing an amazing diminuendo on very high notes, of which there are plenty. She is a convincing actress to boot. This is a role that Caballe and Sutherland were famous for and she is right up there with them.

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Mr. Brownlee has a  very high tenor voice. This role requires him to sing high 'ds' and one very high 'f' above high 'c'. He did it admirably. His small stature was a bit at odds with Elvira but his singing was wonderful. Alfredo Kraus is famous for singing this role.

The rest of the cast included Alec Carlson, Anthony Clark Evans, Adrian Sampetrean, Alan Higgs, and Lauren Decker. All sang very well.

Forget the plot. As Anna Russell said 'In opera you can do anything as long as you sing it'. I miss her!

A very effective set by Ming Cho Lee and the opera chorus sang wonderfully well, as always.