|Elaine Alvarez as Rappacini's Daughter|
(c) Gotham Chamber Opera/Richard Termine
|Poison and antidote: a scene from Act II, (c) Gotham Chamber Opera/Richard Termine|
The singers gave fine performances as an ensemble and individually. Ariana Wyatt, Cassandra Zoe Velasco, and Nora Graham-Smith acquitted themselves well in the challenging, dissonant music of the sinister flowers. Jessica Grigg showed good stage presence and a fine mezzo as the landlady Isabel. Her expressive phrasing caught the moral ambivalence of her agency nicely, notably when she tells the student, "Los sognos parlan a gridos." Brian Downen, with a slightly metallic tenor, brought incisive diction and thoughtful characterization to the role of Baglioni. Eric Dubin's pleasing warm, light baritone--as well as, incidentally, his youth--made his Rappaccini surprisingly disarming. As the naive Giovanni, Daniel Montenegro was at his best once doubts beset him, with musical motifs warring for his adherence. He sang with a sweet lyric tenor, and showed convincing ardor in "Beatriz, puerta del mundo," as well as the duet ("Y debo creer todo lo que mis ojos vean") which grows from exchanged fragmentary phrases to ecstatically intertwining vocal lines. Elaine Alvarez, singing the title role, proved to have an exciting and generous soprano of unusual timbre. It's a sizable instrument and she used it well, showing a genuine sweetness that was devoid of simpering, and a dignified resignation in her final scene--"Tus palabras me laceran todavia"--which carried its own pathos. She refuses her father's engineering of life, sensing that something vital is thereby lost. In denying the doctor's creed, she asserts that human community is a higher good than the abstract idea of (scientific) progress.