|Kala Maxym (c) Opera Manhattan|
|Menotti (via G. Schirmer)|
Gentle Readers, I can only say that it is perhaps ill-advised to go into a performance of Suor Angelica in the emotionally fragile state to which I had been reduced by the first two-thirds of the evening, and that I wouldn't have missed it for the world. The loss of Puccini's lush orchestration is regrettable, but Tristan Cano was again excellent at the piano. Standouts in the community of nuns were Anna Petrie (again!) as the monitress and Rachel Arky as the abbess. Elana Gleason, as the compassionate and feisty Sister Genovieffa, displayed a bright, warm soprano. Anna Yelizarova was a much younger and more fabulous Zia Principessa than I am accustomed to, but seemed vocally tense. The Suor Angelica of Kristi Bulot grabbed my attention with her first notes, and gave a vocally and dramatically compelling performance. Bulot portrayed Angelica as a passionate visionary, unremittingly intense in expression. In Bulot's coloring of her voice, in her use of text, in her body language, it was clear that the constant work of renunciation is the determinant factor in Angelica's experience and actions. She is tender with the older sister--"O sorella, sorella, la morte è vita bella!"-- and even the giving of the wasp medicine was made poignant. When I cried during this scene, those sitting behind me giggled (surely at least a venial sin?); when I sobbed during "Senza Mamma," I don't think I was alone. Bulot has a strikingly lush Puccini soprano, from strong gravi to brilliant top notes which she was capable of bringing to pianissimo. The final scene was striking for her confident serenity. Her fear of damnation was no less well portrayed, but the radiance of her expectation remained most striking. Her vision, the production suggested, was delusional, even if her hope of grace was not.
The festival runs through the 21st, with alternating casts except for the Poulenc. Each opera is worthwhile; if undertaking them all on one night, proceed with caution and tissues.